Friday, August 28, 2009
Pasta Bake
Behold...the Pasta Bake! Do you remember a while back, (I can't remember what company it was) there was a sauce that you could buy that marketed itself as an easy pasta bake. I think it got discontinued. So, the illustrator and I talked about it and figured we could use the same idea, but with our favorite bottled sauce. This is my standby whenever I need to make something simple, hot, quick and delicious! I am a huge fan of great base recipes that can be changed up for things you have on hand. I like making pasta bakes when people are coming over for dinner because it is easy to make multiples to suite everyone's tastes without going overboard on price! This one can go as fancy as you like to as plain as you like. The other day, I made a pan of plain cheese and a pan with pepperoni, roasted red peppers, onions and garlic. This recipe is great with grilled vegetables and the guys like turkey Italian sausage (browned).

Pasta Bake
1 16oz box of penne rigate pasta (the one with the lines)
1 26 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 jar of water
8 oz. of your favorite dairy free mozzarella cheese, shredded
your favorite add-ins (as much or a little as you like)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 13x9 baking pan, mix the pasta, sauce, water and add-ins. Cover the pan with foil (or I use a baking sheet to save the foil) and bake for 50 minutes. Next, add the cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted (I bake it till it gets a little brown). Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then eat!
Now, on this occasion, I did not have any dairy free cheese. So, I decided to play with some cashews to make a topping for my pasta. I went a little crazy in the bulk bin aisle the other day, so I thought I would mix some of the cashews with some other ingredients to see what would happen. The biggest problem with my mixture is that I made such a small amount that I could not get the food processor to blend it smooth. I have to admit, though, that I liked it this way. It was more of a ricotta type topping with fresh herbs. I am curious to know what it would be like if it was smooth though. I did bake it on top of my pasta, but I don't know that it made much of a difference in the end product. I am definitely going to play with this mixture more and see what happens! I guess for those of us that are dairy (and now) soy free...playing with our food is the only way to eat! Every meal seems to me more of an adventure!

Oh, if you have not gone to One Frugal Foodie and entered her give away for gluten free/dairy free goods...go check it out! I did!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 10:03 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Vegan Brunch Review
I don't even know where to start because I still feel like I have only scratched the surface of Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz! When I saw the release of this book, I knew right away that it was a book I wanted to look through. I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner (you know I have to have my oatmeal for breakfast), so I knew this book would not be one that just sits on my bookshelf. So, I will go in order of what I have made...
I started with the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. My oldest one asked that I not put poppy seeds in his (texture issues), so I made the batter and then added the poppy seeds to some of them (that should explain the poppy seeds only being in the center of this one). These were so light and fluffy with a nice lemony tang. I huge hit here!
Next I made the Old-Fashioned Chelsea Waffles. I am not going to lie to you...these were the best waffles I have ever had! Ok, so I haven't had that many waffles in my lifetime, but still...these were so good! I loved the addition of cornmeal to make these nice and crispy. Most waffles I have had in the past have not had this crispness, so I was so happy when these held up to the toppings.
As suggested in the book, I made the Brown Sugar Peach Coulis with some of my fresh South Carolina peaches and poured some on top of my waffle. Although not expecially photogenic, his sauce is the perfect accompaniment for these waffles! I will also mention that since the waffles were eaten so quickly and there was sauce left over...this stuff is amazing in oatmeal!
Next up, were the English Muffins. I have the hardest time finding English Muffins at the store that don't have dairy in them. So, it has been awhile since I have gotten the opportunity to enjoy them!
Again, this recipe was without fail! I thought English Muffins would have been more difficult to make. The recipe was very easy to follow, as were all of the recipes I made from the book. I loved it smeared with EarthBalance and ginger preserves! The rest of the family enjoyed egg and cheese sandwiches with these little babies!
Now, we are a bagel loving family!!! So, I thought I would try out the Bagel recipe. This one, I was a little confused by. They were delicious, but (for me) they made 12 mini bagels. I followed the recipe exactly and I know yeast breads can be a bit tricky at times, but these came out a little too small for what I was looking for. The book refers to these as being like a NYC bagel so I thought it would make nice big fat bagels...that is not what I got. Delicious, but small.
Last (for now), but not least, is the Polenta Rancheros! I prepared mine a little differently because the book gives you a suggestion for the "leftover" polenta that I wanted to try for my version of the recipe. The recipes uses soft polenta with this dish to be reminisent of a soft egg which is closer to the tradition rancheros dish. I am happy I went with the alternate version though! The polenta was nice and crispy on the outside and so soft and creamy on the inside! I ate way more of this dish than I should have! My youngest one gave me major compliments on this dish...I gave Vegan Brunch the credit though. I am a firm believer in credit where credit is due!
I have to say that I kept putting off reviewing this book because I kept finding recipes that I wanted to try. Isa starts off by giving a list, with descriptions, of pantry items to have on hand. She also gives you ideas for how to set up a great brunch. Then the book goes into the recipes that range from tofu scrambles, homemade sausages, fresh baked goods and then to drinks. So, if you love breakfast food and are tired of not being able to enjoy diner style food out, then Vegan Brunch would be a great addition to your kitchen!

Review for Go Dairy Free


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:46 AM   2 comments
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Caramel Gooey Bars and Go Max Go Candy Bars
I will start with the review of the Go Max Go candy bars. Ok, how many people out there (who can't have milk chocolate) have told somebody about dairy free chocolate and got the "EEEWWW GROSS" comment? I always explain to them that chocolate it not dairy. In fact, we all seem to like dairy free chocolate around here I learned from the reviews I got around here! There are four different flavors...Buccaneer, Twilight, Jokerz and Mahalo. All 4 flavors are the dairy equivalent of the major name brands. Now, to be honest, I am not a candy bar buff..I know...the travesty. So, I decided to let the real judges have a go at it. Well, the reviews I got were more than outstanding!!! Within an hour of having the bars in the house, the illustrator wanted to try the Mahalo. He actually said the Mahalo tasted better than the dairy counter part! He said, "It tastes fresher and more like real coconut". I even heard him telling other people about it who can have dairy! As you can see, I did not get a chance to get a picture of each candy bar before it was comsumed because every time I turned around...the kids were going for the non-dairy bars!
My youngest son has already told me that I need to get I would say that these are a winner here! Another score for our dairy free community!
Now, for the caramel gooey bars. I can not take the credit for this one. My sister is the one that gave me this recipe. I am not sure where it originates from, but whomever came up with this little concoction from heaven, is a super genious! I don't make these often because the illustrator does not want to be responsible for eating them...they are addictive! Seriously, can you really go wrong with oatmeal, brown sugar, caramel and chocolate??? So, make these with caution because you will start to own people with the lure of the caramel gooey bars! Oh and thank you T for the recipe!!!
Caramel Gooey Bars
(from my sister)

2 1/4 c Flour
2 c Quick Cooking Oats
1 1/2 c Brown Sugar, packed (dark or light)
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
1 1/2 c Cold Dairy Free Butter (EarthBalance)
2 c Dairy Free Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (your favorite brand)
1 c Pecans, chopped (I never use these)
12 oz Caramel Sauce(use your favorite recipe - or let me know if you need one)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
Cut in butter until crumbly. Set half aside for topping.
Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and pecans.
Whisk caramel topping and remaining flour until smooth. Drizzle over top.
Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake an additional 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting.

These are easily made the day before you are serving them. They meld together and are easier to just have to be willing to wait.
Review for Go Dairy Free

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 12:02 PM   14 comments
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Peanut Butter Cup Blondies
My family is a huge fan of the all mighty peanut butter and chocolate combination! So when I saw this recipe on Elyse's Confectionary Creations, I knew I had to make it! Most people act so sad for me when I tell them that I can't have dairy. The biggest concern people seem to have with my lack of dairy consumption is what in the world do you do about chocolate??? Well, I hate to mention this, but chocolate is not dairy...they put it in there when they mix it up! Funny thing is, I buy a lot of dairy free chocolate and no one here complains at all. In fact, there are some things that get complimented as being better than the regular name brand (a review is coming tomorrow on that one). So, it may take a little extra looking around, but dairy free chocolate like the ones you have always loved are out just have to look for them.
I only changed a few things, so I will post the recipe with my changes, but you should take a look at all of the great stuff that Elyse has done.
Peanut Butter Blondies
(Adapted from Elyse's Confectionary Creations

1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (spoon flour into a measuring cup and level)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick of dairy free butter

1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups chopped chocolate peanut butter cups

Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, powder, and salt together. Set this aside. Melt butter in microwave. When melted, whisk in peanut butter until mixture is smooth. Next, whisk in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture just until combined. Then, stir in chocolate peanut butter cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:08 PM   7 comments
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Vegan Scoop
If you are an ice cream enthusiast like myself, you will love The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro! This book is not only filled with great dairy free ice cream recipes, it is loaded with great recipes to go with all of the ice creams you will make. The Vegan Scoop comes in a fun colorful package, as well. I love great photos in cookbooks and this one is full of colorful pictures that will entice you to make more and more!
The book starts off by explaining the different ingredients that are used in the book. It also gives you a list of tips and techniques to help you make a great frozen dessert product at home. I started off with making vanilla. I wanted to see what the consistency of the ice cream would be like. Let's be honest, vanilla is the true test for ice cream!
I have to say that I was completely shocked with how scoopable this was right from the freezer!
I then decided to try out the recipe for hot fudge. This was the perfect topper for this creamy, dairy free ice cream treat!
The next ice cream flavor I tried out was nectarine. Well, I actually had a surplus of fresh peaches from South Carolina, so I substituted the nectarines with its fuzzy cousin...the peach. This recipe did not fail me either! It was very creamy and had a great peach flavor! The only complaint I have is that all of the recipes say they make about a quart and that is really not the case. So, be careful that your ice cream maker can make more that a quart because the peach recipe makes more than that. If you look at the quantities in the ingredients list, you will be able to tell that the recipe makes more. Other than that, these ice cream recipes have me excited to try more...
For my last recipe from the book (just for now) I tried out the twinkie recipe. I wish that I had a twinkie pan, but I don't so these were baked in a muffin pan. Even though they don't look like twinkies, my boys loved them. If you ask me, that is a winning vote! I don't know that I would call them twinkies, but they were a great little snack cake. I would like to try them again with a twinkie pan next time! I think that is the only way to truely judge how close it is to a twinkie. If you are looking for great dairy free ice cream recipes that you can make at home (so much cheaper than store bought) and you don't live close enough to get the real deal from Wheeler, then The Vegan Scoop from Wheeler Del Torro is the book for you!

Since I can't share his NEED to get this book, if you want to make some ice cream NOW my oatmeal ice cream recipe is here.
Review for Go Dairy Free.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:25 PM   0 comments
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Kale Chips
These little babies caused a lot of controversy in the house! The controversy was over who liked them and who didn't! I have seen them around the blog/recipe circuit and decided to give them a try with the kale that was left over from the fruit bouquet (I don't waste food). I gave them a good washing and drying, cut out the thick stem, sprayed them with a little cooking spray and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper. Then I placed them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. I loved them! They are very interesting in texture. Not really a dipping chip for a thick dip like hummus, but you could absolutely use ketchup. They would be great on a salad too, if you like the crispness of croutons on your salad! The illustrator, was not a say the least, but I absolutely loved them!
(this picture is not so great for the kale...I hate using flash, but it was so over cast!)

This was a delicious lunch of my huge plate of kale chips (yes, I ate the whole plate in one sitting) and some grilled zucchini with sliced farmer's market tomatoes.


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 3:53 PM   5 comments
Friday, August 14, 2009
Cookie Cake Conquered!
So, my kids are not the normal cake kids when it comes to birthday treats. They would go for cookies way before they would go for cake. Normally, that is not a problem here, but when it comes to birthdays, that normally means dropping $40 for a cake. That is a huge hit for someone that is not afraid to make get in the kitchen and bake! I am of the opinion though, that you get what you want food wise on your birthday. That is the way I grew up and let's be honest, as you get older, really that is the highlight of the day! So, this year, my oldest son asked for me to make a cookie cake. I have to admit...I got scared. Cookies are one thing, but a huge cookie...that can lead to some problems! So, I did a little research and came across this recipe from I read the reviews, took a deep breath and off I went to see what kind of mess I could make out of the cookie cake. I realized half way through the process that I did not have a true pizza pan, so I had to improvise with a cookie sheet. I had no illusions that it would work, so I just did it and hoped for the best. The only changes I made were to use Earth Balance and I baked it in a different pan (oh and no nuts for this clan). I also bought the icing because I knew what Jay wanted on it.
(This is the one that Jay finished decorating. The one on the bottom of the page is the one I did for him. For some reason, he did not want the flowers and balloons that I was wanting to put on it!)

Giant Cookie Cake
(adapted from

1 cup butter, softened (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dairy free chocolate chips

In large bowl, beat dairy free butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Next add the chocolate chips. Spread on a parchment lined 10 1/2x15 inch cookie sheet or 14 inch pizza pan. (I refrigerated the cookie on the pan for about 30 minutes at this point) Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 25 minutes. Cool cookie in pan on a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 8:32 PM   4 comments
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Fruits, Review and Gifts...Oh My!
(Check out the awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles container!)

Yesterday was about my veggies, so today is about my fruits! I don't know which I love more, but I would have to say that these two food groups are pretty tied in my book! I will start off with the bouquet of fruit our family received just yesterday! First, a huge thank you to individual for taking the time to consider a gift that would be appreciated by this whole clan! Second, seriously, this girl is all about this kind of bouquet. I have never been a flowers girl (I am way too cheap for that - they die), so this one was right up my alley. In fact, Max (my 8 year old) looked at me yesterday when he saw this and said...we were just talking about how we wanted one of these! Max and I share an extreme love of fruit! It was so much fun picking off what we all wanted from this. I will admit to eating all but two pieces of cantaloupe (don't judge me - I shared that part with Max), but who could resist all of that fruit, already cut up, waiting to be plucked and eatin'? Everybody picked off the skewers and ate until they could eat no more!
Now, on to my next fruit indulgence...Nasoya Strawberry Silken Creations. I am a huge fan of all three flavors. I will tell you that this was all that was left of my container. One night the illustrator and I made a blackberry cobbler. I did not have any dairy free ice cream to have on it, so when I saw the Strawberry Silken Creation in the fridge, I figured it would do the trick as a creamy addition to my berry cobbler. It absolutely did! I took the last bit and froze it to see how it would work for later. It worked like a charm! After freezing it in a plastic container, I pulled it out at room temperature for a little bit and it scooped right out! I love how versatile the Nasoya Silken Creations are! This product is so rich and creamy while still being low in fat and calories. Finally, a dairy free product that you can feel like you are splurging on, but it is really good for you! I like that you can use it in so many ways too!

I have now made cake with it...

(Chocolate Silken Creation)

baked shortcakes with it...
(Vanilla Silken Creation)

made pancakes with it...
(Chocolate Silken Creations)

and eaten in plain!
I haven't even scratched the surface of ways to use this...I guess it is time to get some more!


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:13 PM   0 comments
Monday, August 10, 2009
Farmers Market Trip
So, we went to the farmer's market on Saturday morning. It is nothing big, just a local market of about 15 vendors. Everything from fresh eggs, beef, vegetables, plants, breads, cakes and bbq sauce. The bbq sauce vendor seemed a little out of place (to me) being that he was passing out samples in shot cups while it was 90+ degrees. Don't get me wrong, I love that there is a local vendor for bbq sauce...I am on board with buying local foods and supporting the smaller companies, but I am not about to take a shot of bbq sauce while sweating up a storm in the middle of a park with no water on hand (or tofu for that matter)! As for the veggies, oh I could spend some money and time! I am a sucker for browsing food markets. I could spend hours just looking and touching and smelling everything they have! I was enjoying the heat and the smell of fresh from the garden veggies when the illustrator called my name and pointed to these...
The tomatoes were beautiful! These huge, bright red, sweet fruits were calling to us both! To me for a huge juicy veggie sandwich and for him a BLT where the slice of tomato covers the entire sandwich. Right next to the tomatoes was a basket of patty pan squash. I have never had them this big before, but I was going to try them. I figured why not, the squash would be perfect for the "cover the whole sandwich" theme! So, when I got home, I decided to get to work on some bread. I wanted something sturdy enough to hold up to the juiciness of the veggies. I made a loaf of my foccacia bread, but without the oil on top. I also made it in a square Corningware dish so I could cut the loaf in fours to make niced big sturdy sandwiches. Like this one...
I loved this! It worked so well! I am actually going to keep this in my regular rotation of breads because it goes great with a salad too. I will admit that I have a weakness for crispy breads with my dinner salads! I know to others, that seems wierd, but my lunch salads are different from dinner salads...I have a routine and I like it!
I have to say the best part of fresh vegetables like this is that dressing really is not required. I do a lot of salads with no dressing because I really like the flavor of vegetables. I will say that most people think I am crazy for using ketchup, bbq sauce and/or mustard as my dressing. All of which make a great dressing, if I do say so myself! However, this was an amazing salad with freshly grilled large patty pan squash and fresh home grown tomatoes (without any sauces)...I have found my version of heaven!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:28 PM   3 comments
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Through my adventures with stomach problems and digestion issues, I learned about the benefits of probiotics. I normally take a pill or two everyday just to aid in my digestion. I used to eat yogurt like nobody's business until I learned that the yogurt was part of the problem for me. Some people with lactose intolerance can have regular yogurt because most of the lactose is already digested by the healthy bacteria. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. GoodBelly offered me the dairy-free solution I was looking for!
I had been eying this product in the store, so I decided to give it a try. GoodBelly comes in different forms like the big juice cartons and also in little shot cups. There are six different flavors, so there is quite a bit of variety.
The juices in the cartons are just that...a juice. The flavors in the carton are Mango, Black Current and Cranberry Watermelon. Since I had so much and I have some adventurous friends we all tried some. The kids and I really liked the Cranberry Watermelon. It was a nice refreshing juice. The other juices were given good reviews for flavor, as well.
The shots also come in three flavors. They are Blueberry Acai, Strawberry Rosehips and Peach Mango. The reviews on the shots is pretty much the same across the board. They taste a lot like the creaminess was taken out of the yogurt. You get the flavor of yogurt, but without the smooth mouth feel you get from yogurt. I think the shots would be great in homemade ice cream recipes or smoothies. That way you can add the benefits of the probiotics in everyday foods that don't typically have them already. I wanted to play with them even more to make sauces or bake with them, but you lose the help benefit of the probiotics with you heat them. So, even though my stash is gone now...I plan to get more to play with!

GoodBelly is dairy, soy and wheat free, so it is great for people with food allergies. My youngest one is already questioning when I am getting more of the Cranberry Watermelon I would say that one is the favorite around here!

Review for GoDairyFree


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 6:48 PM   5 comments
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Brownies From A Box
People that know me, know that I am a from scratch person. I have no problem jumping in the kitchen and whipping up anything from scratch. I prefer knowing what is in the food that I give my family and I am much more of an "all natural" kind of gal! Most days I take it as an opportunity to learn something new or relieve stress. Brownies are the exception for me. My three guys have a specific type of brownie they like (box mix). Luckily, some of them like the end pieces and some of them like the middle pieces or we would be in a lot of trouble! Around here, brownies have to be fudgy on the inside but sturdy on the outside - not cakey. I have a friend that makes a killer brownie that I am scared to even attempt to make (besides, I don't want to steal her thunder--she knows my guys fall all over her brownies). I could have sworn it was a box mix when I first saw them, but when I discovered they were from scratch, I was in shock and immediately asked for the recipe so I could give it a whirl. One day I will work up the nerve to give it a try!
The past couple of days have been busy here and the little guys have been craving brownies. I am trying my best to give the kids a good time before school starts back on Monday, so I decided to make them a treat today...boxed brownies! Duncan Hines has quite a few dairy free mixes for brownies and cakes. I would say this particular one is my family's favorite and it is consistently good.
So, if you are looking for a quick and consistent outcome for brownies...Duncan Hines hits the mark.

By the way, I always make these with egg substitute...I have to make them a little better for the guys!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:10 PM   4 comments

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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