Welcome to Allergy Free & Cheap Like Me!

gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Simple Drop Biscuits

This basic biscuit recipe is great for anything from biscuits and gravy to cheesy garlic dinner rolls! The best part is they are a snap to make and of course, allergen-free!

Makes about 8

3/4-cup sorghum flour
1-cup tapioca starch
1-teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cream of tarter*
3/4-teaspoon baking soda
1/2-teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4-cup butter (I used Earth Balance Dairy & Soy-free buttery spread)
1 large egg equivalent (I used 1 tablespoon flax + 3 tablespoons water)
3/4-cup rice milk

*If you don’t have cream of tarter, then you can use 2 teaspoons of baking powder instead and omit the baking soda as well.

How to Make It:
  • In your mixer bowl, combine the butter, egg equivalent, and milk.
  • Beat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds. 
  • Add the dry ingredients and beat for an additional 30 seconds. 
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for an additional minute. 
  • Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (I use a Silpat mat instead for easy clean-up!) 
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 
  • Enjoy! 
***For a variant of this recipe, make cheesy garlic biscuits! Simply add a few cloves of chopped up garlic and some shredded cheese (I used sheep’s cheese because that’s what I can handle,  but you could try Daiya cheese which is diary, egg, and soy free!) after you scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for an additional minute. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cook time; just watch them and use your best judgment!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Allergen-Free Holiday Recipes!

Since the holidays are literally just around the corner, I thought I would post a few of my favorite holiday recipes. All of them are allergen-free, but taste just as yummy as your old allergen-filled favorites! Chances are you can still have all of your old favorite dishes; most recipes just need a few tweaks to make them allergen-free! I can’t think of one thing we used to have at holidays that we no longer are able to have now, we have just adjusted the recipes to include allergen-free ingredients!  -Well except for deviled eggs I suppose! I haven’t figure out a way to still have them! :) I will post a new recipe every week counting up to Christmas! Enjoy!

Delicious Apple Stuffing
Hard Cider Gravy
Try my yummy Hard Cider Gravy now!
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Check out my Cranberry Orange Sauce now!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
Maple-Glazed Carrots
Get my yummy Maple-Glazed Carrot recipe now!
Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Check out my yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe for santa!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies for Santa!

This Christmas Eve give Santa an allergen-free treat by putting these yummy chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk {non-dairy of course} out for him to eat! They will taste so good; Santa will never know they are allergen-free!

1 cup Sorghum Flour
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 cup Millet Flour
2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3/4 cup Sugar (I used beet sugar)
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
**Egg Replacer for 2 eggs: 4 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoon oil + 1 teaspoon baking powder, beaten together until smooth.
1 cup Dairy-Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips {I used Enjoy Life Foods Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips}
1/2 cup walnut chopped {I made half of the cookies with walnuts and half without, I wasn't sure if Santa liked walnuts or not! :)}

How to Make it:
{    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
{    In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
{    In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the softened dairy-free butter substitute, sugars, and vanilla.
{    Add the egg replacer and continue mixing until combined.
{    With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
{    Add the diary-free chocolate chips (and nuts if you want), then stir by hand until they are well mixed throughout the cookie dough.
{    Drop the cookie dough, by rounded spoonfuls, onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
{    Bake in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes.
{    Remove cookies from the oven and allow them to cool a bit on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maple-Glazed Carrots!

Here is a veggie that is so easy and everyone will love it – even the kids!

Serves 8

3 pounds carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1/4-cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance Dairy & Soy-free buttery spread)
Salt and Pepper

How to Make It:
{    In a large skillet, combine the sliced carrots, maple syrup, butter, 1/3-cup water, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/4-teaspoon pepper.
{    Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 12 to 15 minutes.
{    Serve warm and enjoy!

NOTE: If the carrots are tender before the liquid has thickened, uncover and increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid forms a glaze. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecans!

Here is a quick, easy side that is sure to impress!

Serves 8

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper

How to Make It:
{    Heat oven to 400 degrees.
{    In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts, pecan, oil, garlic, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
{    Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet, turning the Brussels sprouts cut-side down.
{    Roast until golden and tender about 20 to 25 minutes.
{    Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

La Casa del Mojito

La Casa del Mojito in Seattle is pretty much a yellow triangle shaped “hole-in-the-wall”. But who can beat a place with bongo and conga drums tucked in the corner while waiting for their food?  Not to mention the food was fantastic!  If any of you have read about my arepa obsession in my previous blog posts, then you know how much I like my arepas! I found La Casa del Mojito online after searching for a good arepa place in the Seattle area. And although they didn’t have arepas after all (they may have them at a different time than we were there), I was happy we found our way there anyway! I’d classify La Casa as a Latin American (Cuban/Venezuelan) restaurant.

As soon as we walked in, Luam Werson, La Casa’s co-owner and at times cook, welcomed us. He was energetic, welcoming, and full of life. I ordered the Pabellon, a traditional Venezuelan dish with shredded beef, red peppers, and onions served with rice, black beans, and fried sweet plantains. What sounds better than that? It was delicious! And the best part, completely safe for me to eat, no gluten, dairy, eggs, nor soy!

If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend making your way over to La Casa del Mojito. It is worth the trip just for the food, plus the atmosphere is amazing! And if you are there around dinnertime, try a mojito; it’s got to be good!

7545 Lake City Way NE, Seattle WA 98115, (206)525-3162

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Here is a twist on the old, plain cranberry sauce.  It’s so simple you will wonder why you never made it yourself before!

Serves 8

1-pound cranberries, fresh or frozen
1-cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

How to Make It:
{    In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice, and sugar. 
{    Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens after about 15 minutes.
{    Let cool. Serve at room temperature.
{    Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways. We have all heard the saying but how much gratitude do you regularly practice in your life?  Chances are you probably say "thank you" to the store clerks, waitresses or baristas you see daily, but how regularly do you really see and celebrate the little gifts you receive every day?  A hug, a smile, a seat on the bus, or a door held open? Do you count those as blessings too?

It turns out that if you do, it can be tremendously helpful and healthful! Studies show that the benefits of gratitude may include less stress, more joy, enhanced vitality, improved sleep, faster recovery from illness, more fulfilling relationships, and a deeper sense of spiritual connection. Can’t we all use a little help in those departments? Gratitude works because it promotes positive emotions such as joy, contentment and hope. When we experience gratitude we flood the part of the brain that floods the body with feel-good hormones. If you articulate why you are grateful to someone, it is contagious. They feel good and start to tell other people why they are grateful and it multiplies. Don’t you want to help pass those kinds of feelings around instead of all the negative ones we are bombarded with on a daily basis?

Many families do a round of “what I’m grateful for” at Thanksgiving, but what about trying it all year round, for every dinner?  Just this small practice of gratitude every day may not only help you connect with your family more, but also improve your health! 

"Round the table, peace and joy prevail. May all who share this season’s delight enjoy countless more." – Chinese blessing

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hard Cider Gravy!

This is a fun twist on regular, old gravy and it is so yummy!

Serves 8

Drippings from roasted turkey, still in roasting pan
1-cup hard cider or you could use dry white wine (but what’s the fun in that?)
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance dairy & soy-free buttery spread)
1/3-cup gluten-free flour of choice
Salt and Pepper

How to Make It:
{    Strain the drippings into a large measuring cup or bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then skim off and discard the fat. (If you have one of those fat separators thing-a-ma-jigs, you could use that too!).
{    Place the empty pan over 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the cider and cook for 1 minute, scraping up the bits stuck to the pan. Pour into the skimmed drippings and add enough broth to make a total of 4 cups.
{    Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-heat. Cook the flour, whisking until golden, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the broth mixture and bring to a boil.
{    Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
{    Season with 1/2-teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Strain and serve warm.
{    Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delicious Apple Stuffing

This stuffing is so yummy, your family won't believe its gluten-free! Not to mention, dairy, egg, and soy free too! And the best part is it is so simple to make!

Serves 8

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (I use Earth Balance dairy & soy-free buttery spread)
1 loaf multi-grain G-free bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and Pepper
2 Granny Smith apples cut into 1/2-pieces
2 cups chicken or turkey broth (you could use vegetable broth here to make this vegan!)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
2 large egg substitution equivalent (I used 2 tablespoons flax + 6 tablespoons warm water)

How to Make It:
{    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a deep, 3-quart casserole dish. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden for about 10 minutes. *
{    Transfer to a large bowl.
*If you want to skip this step, simply cut bread up a day ahead of time and leave it out to dry out!

{    Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the apples and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
{    Add the vegetable mixture, parsley, and sage to the bread and toss to combine. Mix in the egg mixture. Transfer to the prepared dish and cover loosely with foil.
{    Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden for about 12 to 15 minutes more.
{    Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Old Wives' Tales

I was recently in Portland, Oregon and stopped by Old Wives’ Tales for lunch. Old Wives’ Tales is a popular restaurant in Portland that just happens to be 90-percent gluten free!  Not only are their items gluten free, but many are also dairy and soy-free as well... oh ya, and vegan friendly!  There are so many choices to choose from. The servers are very helpful at figuring out what is in everything to make sure it is safe for you!  I had the Greek Melt. It’s an open-faced sandwich with feta, fresh tomato, mushrooms, sweet peppers, onion, artichoke hearts, Greek olives, and Greek herbs. Instead of the feta cheese, I substituted Daiya cheese instead!  There is a delicious gluten-free bread option for all of their sandwiches. The bread is made by Kinnikinnick Foods.*    The sandwich was so yummy! I couldn’t resist getting one of their desserts while I was there. I got the gluten-free coconut, almond brownie with a scoop of Coconut Bliss-Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream! Delicious! If you are ever in the Portland, Oregon area, stop by Old Wives’ Tales; I promise you won’t be disappointed!

***  Disclaimer, I do believe, after looking into it, the bread by Kinnikinnick Foods does contain eggs. So if you are egg intolerant, it may not be an option for you. Check it out for yourself at http://consumer.kinnikinnick.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/products.home/productcategoryid/1#

Old Wives’ Tales
1300 East Burnside, Portland, OR 97214, 503-238-0470

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Homemade Potato Soup

This yummy potato soup is perfect for a cold snowy day (like we are currently having in Fairbanks!) It’s my own creation and I very rarely measure any of the ingredients out. It’s more of an eyeball it recipe!

Serves 2 plus some leftovers

About 4 to 5 medium sized potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch chunks. (I like to vary my pieces in size a bit because then some cook faster and towards the end of the cooking time I mash the smaller ones up with a fork to make the soup thicker)
1/2 an onion, diced (I use sweet, but a regular yellow onion would work too.)
2 large carrots, chopped.
3 to 4 cloves garlic or more if you like, diced.
About 4 strips Bacon (a good tip, if you are like us and never buy bacon just to have bacon and don’t want to have most of a package of bacon leftover just for this one recipe. Buy the bacon already cooked and crumbled at your grocery store in the salad bar area. Our Fred Meyer & Safeway both have salad bars; it’s quick, cheap, and easy.)
Salt and Pepper
Dried thyme
Vegetable broth (I use Pacific Natural Foods Organic Low-Sodium Vegetable broth in a carton)
Rice Milk (optional)
(You could add celery. My husband doesn’t like it so I don’t but it’s an option as well.)
***If you want to make this recipe vegan, just omit the bacon and use oil to saute the veggies instead. I make it this way a lot since we usually don’t have bacon. 

How to Make It:
{    Chop up the onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes and any other veggie you would like in the soup.
{    In a large saucepan, on medium-heat, fry up the bacon (or if you are lazy like me throw in 3/4 of the already cooked bacon) and cook for a few minutes until bacon is done.
{    If you cooked your own bacon, take the bacon out of the saucepan and let cool. (If you are using pre-cooked bacon, you can leave it in the pan.)
{    In the bacon grease add the onions, carrots (any other veggies), and potatoes and saute. (If you used already cooked bacon you, may need to add a bit of oil to the pan to saute the veggies. For this I use grapeseed oil or a spoonful of Earth Balance buttery spread, the dairy & soy-free kind).
{    Add about two to three pinches of sea salt, pepper, and thyme.
{    Saute until the onions are tender, but not mushy.
{    If you fried your own bacon, crush it up and add 3/4 of it now.
{    Add in the chopped garlic and saute just until you can smell the garlic. (You don’t want to over cook the garlic or it will taste bitter.)
{    Add enough vegetable broth to just cover the potatoes and veggies.
{    Add about 1/2 to 1 cup water (you could add some rice milk here if you like a creamier soup instead of the additional water).
{    Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes and veggies are soft. (You may need to add a little extra water, vegetable broth or rice milk if the liquid reduces too quickly; you want the liquid to cover the potatoes by about an inch or two.)
{    Take a fork and smash up some of the potatoes to make the soup thicker and add the rest of the bacon. (If the soup gets thicker than you like it, then just add a bit more water, vegetable broth or milk.)
{    Serve warm and enjoy!

***I like to add a bit of shredded cheese on top to garnish it in our bowls. (I use a brand of sheep’s cheese you can get at Costco. It is Kirkland brand and called Pecorino Romano. It is made entirely of Sheep’s milk and I have found my stomach can handle it since it is not made with cow’s milk. It is a bit like Parmesan cheese in texture.) But if you can’t have any type of cheese, then you could also add some chives on top if you have them! If you don't have any of these extras, no worries, this soup is perfectly tasty on it’s own!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Is All Sugar Created Equal?

We all know that all types of sugar are not created equal, but do you know which type of sugar is best?  You might be surprised, like me. I recently ran across an interesting article about sugar, especially some information about agave nectar, which I wasn’t aware of! We are all aware that white refined sugar is bad for us, but what about the rest?  Did you know agave nectar can contain up to 90- percent fructose!  I had no idea! Why didn’t I know this and why does this matter? Studies suggest high concentrations of fructose can lead to weight gain and obesity. So the best solution is to choose sweeteners with lower fructose levels such as brown rice syrup, honey, or brown sugar. As a bonus, these less-refined sugars contain more antioxidants and nutrients than highly processed sugars. But keep in mind NO sugar is healthy beyond very small quantities, like large amounts of salt, so limit your sugar intake and choose a better type of sugar the next time you reach for some sweetener!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Super Simple Bagels!

These bagels are so yummy you wont believe they are really gluten-free! Not to mention, egg, dairy, and soy-free too!  Think of all the options to top them off or add in to them; blueberry, cinnamon and raisin, onion, garlic, poppy seed, sesame seed. Then make a bagel sandwich or smear some peanut butter on them; the possibilities are truly endless.

Makes 8

1-cup sorghum flour
3/4-cup millet flour
1-cup tapioca starch/flour
1/4-cup arrowroot starch
1-teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons flax
1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer
1-tablespoon xanthan gum
1-tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons agave (you could use honey)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup warm water
1-teaspoon granulated sugar

How to Make It:
{    Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat and sprinkle some flour on it.
{    Put the flour blend, salt, flax, egg replacer, xanthan gum, and yeast into a mixing bowl and whisk together.
{    In a separate bowl, whisk together agave, oil, vinegar, and 1 1/4 cups warm water.
{    Slowly incorporate the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Add more warm water, if necessary, to create a smooth consistency. Mixture should be thick. Beat on medium- high speed for 3 minutes.
{    To shape the bagels, use a large spoon to scoop out the batter. Drop a spoonful on to the baking pan or cookie sheet sprinkled with flour. Lightly roll dough in the flour to coat it and then shape into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and, using your index finger, create a hole in the center large enough not to close during the rising and baking.
{    Place each bagel on the baking pan. Lightly cover bagels with a tea towel and place pan in a warm place for bagels to rise for about 20 to 30 minutes.
{    When bagels have risen, bring a skillet of water to boil. Add 1-teaspoon sugar to the water; preheat oven to 375 degrees.
{    Drop a few bagels into the boiling water. Simmer for 30 seconds, turn over and cook for another 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove bagels, drain away excess water, and put bagels back on the baking pan.
{    Once all bagels are boiled, bake them for 25 minutes in preheated oven.
{    Cool on rack and enjoy!

***Top it off: sprinkle each bagel with your topping of choice; poppy, sesame, caraway seeds, toasted onion, garlic bits, salt… right after they come out of the boiling water before they dry.  Then bake as directed. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


I often get asked about substitutions for eggs, butter, dairy, flour, sugar, etc… so I thought I would do a post all about substitutions! Here are a few quick guides. Keep in mind different substitutions can result in slightly different textures and consistencies, so play around and find out which one you like for certain recipes.

Replace 1 cup of cow’s milk with one of the following:
{    1-cup soymilk
{    1-cup rice milk
{    1-cup fruit juice
{    1-cup water
{    1-cup coconut milk
{    1-cup goat’s milk (if tolerated)
{    1-cup hemp milk
{    1 cup almond milk

Replace 1-cup buttermilk with one of the following:
{    1 cup soymilk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon white vinegar. (Let stand until slightly thickened.)
{    1-cup coconut milk
{    7/8-cup rice milk
{    7/8-cup fruit juice
{    7/8-cup water

Replace 1-cup yogurt with one of the following:
{    1-cup soy yogurt or coconut yogurt
{    1-cup soy sour cream
{    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
{    1-cup fruit puree

Replace 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter with the following:
{    8 tablespoons (1 stick) Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine
{    8 tablespoons Earth Balance (non-dairy) Buttery Spread. (I use the soy-free, non-dairy kind in the red packaging.)
{    8 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
{    8 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
{    6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce + 2 tablespoons of any of the above

Replace 1 large egg with one of the following:
{    3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree) + 1 teaspoon baking powder
{    1 tablespoon flax meal or salba seed + 3 tablespoons hot water. (Let stand, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until thick.)
{    Egg Replacer, such as Ener-G, according to the package directions. 
{    4 tablespoons pureed silken tofu + 1 teaspoon baking powder.

***Replacing more than two eggs will change the integrity of a recipe. For recipes that call for a lot of eggs, like a quiche, use pureed silken tofu. Because egg substitutions add moisture, you may have to increase baking times slightly.

***To replace one egg white, dissolve 1-tablespoon plain agar powder into 1-tablespoon water. Beat and chill for 15 minutes, then beat again.

Sugar Substitutes
{Honey or agave nectar} = {sugar}
{    3/4 cup = 1 cup
{    1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
{    1/4 cup = 1/3 cup
{    3 tablespoons = 1/4 cup

Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum:
Here are some general guidelines for using xanthan or guar gum. Gum (Xanthan or guar) is the key to successful gluten-free baking. It provides the binding needed to give the baked product proper elasticity, keeping it from crumbling.
{    Add ½ teaspoon xanthan or guar gum per cup of flour blend to make cakes, cookies, bars, muffins, and other quick breads.
{    Add 1 teaspoon per cup of flour blend to make yeast bread, pizza dough or other baked items that call for yeast.
{    Some commercial flour blends contain xanthan or guar gum, so read the ingredient list carefully to see if there is any need to add more.

Some additional tips:
Wheat Free is NOT Gluten Free! Products labeled "wheat free" are not necessarily gluten free; they may contain spelt, rye or barley ingredients that are not gluten free. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade Arepas!

These yummy arepas are so simple to make and the filling possibilities are endless, have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or dessert! And the best part is they are gluten, egg, dairy and soy free! I absolutely love arepas! Read more about my arepa obsession here!

Makes 6 Arepas

2-cups of Harina P.A.N. flour*
2-cups of water
Pinch of salt
*I hear the Harina P.A.N. is really the key to making yummy traditional arepas and I have never tried to make arepas using another brand of cornmeal. But I am sure it is altogether possible! So whatever brand you can find, just make sure it is cooked cornmeal! Harina P.A. N. comes in two varieties, yellow and white.

How to Make It:
{    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
{    Place two cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix through with clean dry hands.
{    Pour two cups warm water onto the flour.
{    Knead together the flour and water with your hands until the mixture is thoroughly blended and there are no grainy lumps.
{    If the dough is too soggy and sticks to your fingers add a little more flour. If it is too dry add water. The perfect dough should roll easily into a large ball without cracking.
{    Let dough rest in the bowl for 5 minutes. 
{    Break off a fistful of dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Then pat it and turn it in your hands until it’s about half an inch thick and about 3 to 4 inches across. It should look kind of like a flying saucer.
{    Shape the rest of the dough into arepas.
{    Heat a little oil in a frying pan or griddle and when hot add the arepas to the pan. When the arepas have formed a crust and are slightly brown on one side turn them over, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. The idea is to just give them a crunchy exterior not cook them all the way through.
{    Place arepas on a baking tray or directly on the oven rack, at the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes. When ready they should sound hollow when tapped with a knife. 
{    Serve them warm with whatever kind of filling preferred. The trick to opening them up is to make an incision in the arepas slicing through the middle but not going all the way and then open it up like a pocket for the filling. You many need to discard some of the meal in the middle to give room for your filling.
{    Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Arepas Obsession!

My fascination (my husband calls it obsession) with Venezuelan food started last winter in New York when my husband and I met a friend at El Cocotero. I had an Arepa and honestly, I have been craving one ever since! What is an Arepa?  Well, it was described to me kind of like an American hot pocket.  Made out of cooked cornmeal a pinch of salt and water then stuffed with any kind of yummy goodness you would like. Check out my homemade arepa recipe blog post to make your own homemade arepas!

Pica Pica Maize Kitchen in San Francisco
While in San Francisco, my husband and I stopped to eat at this little Venezuelan restaurant called Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. I had found it online before we left for our trip and decided I wanted to stop in. At Pica Pica Maize Kitchen the main ingredient in all their foods is corn. The entire menu and kitchen is 100% wheat and gluten free. To someone who is gluten sensitive, that has a wonderful ring to it!  You simply pick your maize bread and then choose a filling. For your bread you can choose from an Arepa, Maize’Wich or a Cachapa. Then you have 10 wonderful choices of yummy fillings. 

I had the Arepa with #6-Catira (sautéed chicken in their signature sofrito, with cheddar cheese) without the cheddar cheese of course. 
My husband had the Arepa with #7-Pernil (pulled pork, sliced tomatoes, avocado, aioli) and he added my cheese. Both were very delicious! If you are in the San Francisco area stop by and try Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, who can resist dinning at a place who has a 100% gluten free kitchen?
Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, 401 Valencia Street @ 15th, San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-400-5453.
Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Oxbow Public Market, 610 First Street, #5, Napa, CA 94559, 707-251-3757.
El Cocotero, 228 W. 18th St. #1, New York, NY 10011

Mil Jugos in Santa Ana, California
Another Venezuelan restaurant I found online was Mil Jugos in Santa Ana, California. I didn’t have time to sit and eat in the actual restaurant itself and I didn’t get a chance to snap any pictures of the restaurant or the food and I really wish I did, because the arepas were to die for!  They really were fantastic and you can’t beat the price!  I ran in to order two arepas to go while my husband waited in the car. I got the pollo arepas, (shredded chicken breast cooked with garlic, tomatoes, onions, salt and pepper). They were literally done in a matter of seconds and were served hot with their green sauce* on the side, all for only $3.50 a piece!  They were delicious!  My only disappointment was I didn’t get to go back for more!  If you are in the Santa Ana area, I highly recommend stopping by Mil Jugos and trying some of their yummy arepas!

*A side note on their green sauce, I believe it does contain mayo so I did not try it but I hear it is fantastic and really adds to the taste of the arepa, so if you can handle mayo go for some green sauce, but if not make sure to avoid it! They did put mine on the side in its own container but I got my order to go. It’s always safer to ask for it on the side to give to a friend or not at all if you cannot have mayo!

Mil Jugos, 318 W. 5th Street, Santa Ana, California 92725, 714-836-4601.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Divinely Rich Hot Cocoa

This is my favorite hot cocoa recipe, rich chocolaty goodness with a hint of sweetness, so much better than the store bought powder kind. Once you have tried it you will never go back! The best part it is dairy & soy free and so simple to make! Perfect for a cold, snowy night wrapped up in a blanket reading a book by the fireplace!

Makes 2 cups or one large mug full!

2-teaspoons pure cocoa powder
4-teaspoons agave (I like to use agave but you could use regular sugar or honey and it would tastes just fine)
2-cups rice milk

How to Make It:
{    In a small saucepan combine, cocoa powder, agave and milk.
{    Warm on medium heat, stirring with a whisk. (The cocoa powder will mix into the milk once it has heated up a bit.)
{    Cook on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes or until heated to your desired temperature, stirring with the whisk.
{    Pour into a mug and enjoy!

I suppose you could warm the milk up in a mug in the microwave and then stir in the cocoa powder and agave but as we don’t own a microwave the conventional saucepan method works perfect and only takes a few minutes. It is your choice; to me things always taste better right off the stovetop!

**For a variation you could stir in a dash of flavored extract after removing the hot cocoa from the stove such as cherry, vanilla, almond or even orange to add a hint of flavor!
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