Monday, June 11, 2012

Planning for an ARMY

One of two things has happened.  Either the writer of this blog has fallen off the edge of the earth, or he's dead.  Maybe we should go with the latter, but it's neither of the two options.

Things have been crazy.  I got roped into leading the kitchen for UM ARMY, a week-long high school mission trip.  I'll be feeding 75 people for 6 days.  WOOHOO!  Seriously, though, I think I just might throw up.  Just kidding.  But it is going to be insane.

I thought I had it bad with just milk allergies in the house.  On this trip, I'll have allergies to: peanuts, fatty meats, milk, nuts, eggs, soy, papaya, onions and mushrooms.  I think the kids are going to be able to eat water for a week.  "Hope that'll hold ya while you're in the middle of the heat working on houses for underprivileged families!  Enjoy!" 

All kidding aside, I think we're going to have a great week and some awesome food on this trip and I'll be using some awesome recipes, which, of course, I'll be blogging about after I return.  I'll be taking a short blogging break for a week (June 17–23) until after UM ARMY, as the prep and running of the kitchen will take up most of my time.

A Facebook friend of mine shared a recipe with me recently, and I will be trying to convert that to non-milk status quickly so we have something else to share.  

I tried a new "cheese" and will be writing about that this week before I go, too.  

Until then, read some of the blogs on "My Blog List" on the right of the page.  Have a great week!

Wanna share a recipe, or want us to recreate one for you without milk?  Email us at nomoomilk [at] or just leave a comment below!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We’ve Updated Our Comments Systems

One of my dear friends, a fellow foodie, was having issues logging in using the default Blogger comment system, so we updated to use Disqus, a blog-leading comment system that will allow logins from most major content and social systems.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Got Stuck in a Time Rift and All I Got was This Stupid Blog Post

Don't you hate it when you promise you're going to do something and then, immediately following that promise, you get sucked into a dimensional rift and are stuck there for a week?  Well, let me tell you, it's less fun than it sounds.

I mean, inside the rift I got stuck in, there wasn't a Tardis, nothing from Star Trek or Star Wars or even the sad backwoods nerd series that was the original Battlestar Galactica to keep me company.  The entire rift was completely devoid of nerd life or staples.  It was AWFUL.

I was stuck eating real cheese for a week.  I honestly thought I was going to die.  Then, at the very last second, as my lungs were collapsing in on themselves and my veins were beginning to pop as I spiraled out of control in the rift (and, of course, all the universe's bomb timers were at the :01 mark), my beautiful wife appeared in a most fantastic starship and saved me.

Now that I have returned, I can write about our tuna salad, which, after my harrowing experience in an inter-dimensional rift, hardly seems worth talking about.  Here's what you'll need.

Inter-Dimensional Tuna Salad

3 packs tuna with water
1 package Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
Duke’s mayonnaise (to taste)

You'll Need:
A mixing bowl

Mix all the ingredients together and chill until flavors have all mixed.  Serve your favorite way and enjoy.

The best part about this is that it's very unlike any tuna salad I've had before.  The vegetables from the mix retain a very firm quality that is a nice, pleasant contrast to the tuna.

I personally think next time I will want to add a fresh fruit, like an apple, or traditional grapes, to give it that sweet quality that I appreciate in a tuna.  Overall, I'd have to give this recipe (thanks, Chrissy!):

My Moo Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Give Me a “P”!... Oh GREEAAT, Another Pizza Review

Two nights ago, the boys and I (and Chrissy, too) were desperately craving pizza.  There’s something about that texture that just... mmm, I’m drooling.  Well, pizza of any sort is just about out, but we hadn’t given up hope of trying to make our own, after our experience at zpizza.

I’m SO glad we took our own advice and made pizza at home.  It was so much better with just a few simple adjustments to how it’s cooked.  Here’s the recipe:

Better Than Bought Pizza
1 package, Betty Crocker Pizza Mix
1 small container tomato/pizza sauce of your choice
1 package (2 cups) Daiya Shreds, mozzarella flavor
Toppings of your choice

You’ll Need:
Something to bake the pizza on
a mixing bowl
hands (helpful, but not required)

Directions:  Make the Betty Crocker Pizza Mix as directed, adding spices to the dough, if desired.  Use about 3/4 cup of Daiya on the uncooked crust, and place into an oven (as directed on the crust package) for 6 minutes, or until the shreds just start to take on a dry look.  Remove your pizza from the oven and add your toppings.  You will want to precook your toppings, as needed.  Over your toppings, as 1/2 cup of Daiya shreds and bake for an additional 12-14 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Slice and enjoy.

If I could, I’d totally talk to zpizza and suggest to them that they do this at their restaurant, too.  It makes all the different in the world to cook it this way.  The flavor is better, the texture is normal (before the shreds coated your mouth really strangely) and it’s just a more enjoyable experience.

My Moo Rating: 5/5

Tomorrow... tuna salad.  I know, it doesn’t traditionally have milk in it, but we created a good recipe, so I’m sharing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Vacation... AAAND We’re Back, NOW WITH MORE PULLED BEEF!

Over the last week, my wife and I took a wonderful vacation together.  We spent time doing yucky romantic things like watching movies, fixing the lawnmower and taking a long walk on the beach holding hands (SERIOUSLY!).  It was enchanting.  We also had time to cook.  A lot.  I’ll be posting over the next few days so as to not overwhelm the internet with all my news and info.  ;)

I’m really excited to share that we hit 1000 viewers this last week.  I know, it’s not much.  But it’s thrilling.  If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends about it with the lovely share buttons we have available.  I really want to hit 10,000 page views before the end of the year.  See, if you read the blog and tell two friends, and your friend tells two friends...

A few weeks ago, I signed on to do the food for a summer youth camp, UM ARMY, that the church I work for is attending.  It’s been several years since I went, and it’s my first time to run the kitchen for this particular organization (though certainly not my first cooking rodeo).  I decided that it would be a good idea to try out some recipes that I could use on the kids I live with.  After all, what better guinea pigs than my own family.

North Carolina-Style Pulled Beef
One of my favorite places on earth is North Carolina.  I don’t get to go nearly often enough, but it is (other than Disney World) the happiest place on earth.  Though my family on my Mom’s side is small, that’s where they’re from.

In honor of our family there, I decided to do a North Carolina-style BBQ beef.  Traditional “southern” BBQ is fine, but there’s something about the zip that comes with a vinegar-based sauce that you just don’t get from the tomato or mustard based sauces.

I started, as I do often do, with a recipe that already existed, and made it up from there.  Though the version was okay, it was WAAY to spicy and there just wasn’t much in terms of depth to the flavor.  It was very one-note, and it didn’t sing very well.  So here we go with MY version.

1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp garlic (or garlic powder)
3 tsp onion flakes
1/4 cup ketchup
beef roast

You’ll Need:
a sauce pan
a slow cooker

Combine the vinegar, salt, red pepper, brown sugar, garlic and onion together in a sauce pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes to release all the flavors in the sugar and meld them with the other ingredients.  Salt and pepper your meat as you wish and put into your slow cooker.  Pour your sauce over the meat and cook for 2-3 hours.  Then, turn your meat and add your ketchup to the sauce and mix well.  Cook for another 1-2 hours.

You can also add some extra brown sugar to the top of the meat toward the end of the cooking cycle if you wish to add a caramelized taste to it.

When you’re done cooking, remove and place the meat on a cutting board.  Remove any fat that you may have on the meat (as it is not desirable in a sandwich) and then shred the beef.  Take some of your sauce that has reduced and place aside to go on top of the meat.  You can also store the beef in the sauce to help keep it moist.

I thought my children were going to eat the Corningware, they liked it so much.  I guess we have a hit on our hands.

My Moo Rating: 4/5

It probably deserves better, but I think I can improve on the recipe even more.  Next time... PORK!

As always... happy eating!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mimi tries a recipe... and fails. And then has gumdrop buttons?

I am the grandmother.  I am... the Mimi.

I am not the great exploring cook that my son (it's really my wife, Chrissy, that's cooking Mom--BUT I'M HELPING!.  -Michael) has turned out to be.  I’m also not the great writer he is.  But I still would like to share what we have learned, or not learned in this case.  I had my grandsons for dinner last night and decided to try to make one of the recipes from the Daiya website, Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.

I went by Kroger’s on my way home and got the needed ingredients, along with a baked chicken and some frozen broccoli for dinner.  I prepared the elbow noodles and added the said ingredients directly to the noodles while they were steaming hot.  Probably my first mistake.  Michael said I needed to make the sauce separately for the Daiya to get to the correct consistency.  Adding it to the noodles and stirring worked, and it tasted good after adding some salt and pepper.  But as my husband put it… "I think you could use this as cement filler and it would work just fine."  It was thick, not smooth, and had an off taste that was... not pleasant.  Don’t know that the taste could have changed much.  The grandboys wouldn’t eat it.  Gabriel would dip his broccoli in it and eat the broccoli, but not the noodles by themselves.  Benton wouldn’t eat it at all after the first nibble… and he is usually the one that will at least try a couple of bites.  Not happening!  Epic fail.  Michael and Chrissy are going to try to do something else with it.

Mimi's Moo-rating: ½ of 1, of 5

Gingerbread, made from scratch: a hit.  Gabriel had three pieces, Benton, two!  This is a family recipe that goes back to the 1970’s.  A friend of Allen's (Michael's Dad) sister gave out the recipe with the gingerbread at Christmas one year.  That recipe is the best gingerbread I have ever tasted and best of all….NO MILK REQUIRED! 

RECIPE: FAMILY SECRET.  I promise I'll pry it from her before she gets cold, dead hands. -Michael

Mimi's Moo-rating: 5 of 5

Mimi's FInal Thought
Chicken $5.97…Broccoli $1.89…Daiya Recipe Mac 'n' Cheese $8.97….Gingerbread $2.30….time with my grandboys; priceless!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Salsa Doesn’t Have Milk... Does It?

Weird question, I know.  But, it was a question that we had to ask when we visited our favorite Tex-Mex spot, Casa Ole.  We were surprised to learn that their awesome green salsa does, INDEED, contain milk products.  Specifically, it’s made with sour cream.  We were SHOCKED.  So, now the boys only eat their red salsa.

Well, in the name of trying everything at least once, we made our own red salsa at home this weekend.  I know, it didn’t require milk in the first place, but, it had to be done.  This no-milk adventure has sort of encouraged us to find ways to make our own foods even when they don’t require milk.  That way, we know exactly what is going into our bodies.  But I’ll step onto my soapbox after I give you the recipe.

Sweet, Red & Wild Salsa
5 medium tomatoes
1 whole jalapeƱo
3 cloves garlic
1 bundle sweet mexican onions
1 1/2 limes
1 Tbps sugar
handful of cilantro (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)

You’ll Need:
cutting board
sharp paring knife
food processor

This is really hard.  Are you ready?  Are you sitting down?  Is he big, is he hefty, is he coming back?  
Put all your items in the food processor, after getting rid of stems, peel, etc.  (You can keep the skin from the tomato).  Blend until smooth.


YAAY!  All done!

Short post today, but what exactly are you going to say about salsa?  How long can one post be when you’re talking about that few ingredients and all of them are fresh from the “farm?”  Exactly.

Soapbox Time
I find it funny to watch all these experts in child nutrition, development, psychology and other “serious” professions debate why our children are having so many nutritional, development, psychological and other health maladies, while seemingly ignoring the fact that in the past 25 years (since we were kids) we have moved from being a society that was supposed to be putting down junk foods, to actually making the “healthy” foods that we are all “SUPPOSED” to be eating unhealthy by doing things like genetic modification, or forcing the addition of so many “food-grade” ingredients to stabilize their shelf life.  Come on, people, if we really look at what the problems are, don’t you think we should start with what we put in our mouths?  If a normal, everyday cow was eating 900 pounds of genetically modified, drug laced foods, don’t you think that the cow’s offspring one, two or even three generations down the road would be paying the price?

My hat off to our wonderful pediatrician and any like her who wants to see us buck this trend.  Dr. Miller, we love you.  She’s constantly pushing for more healthful eating, not only by picking “healthier” foods, but by removing the crap that’s in the “good” foods we should be eating anyway.

If you’re an expert today (and I respect you all, even if I don’t agree with you all the time), it seems like many in your profession are George of the Jungle... watch out for that tree.  It’s headed right for your face.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Buttery Goodness: A “Spread" Out Review

Earth Balance, Smart Balance, Fleischmann’s, oh my!

I figured in a world without milk, butter would be a nightmare from hell.  You’d pick up something made from the wool of a sullen yak and have to use that to wave magically over your food containers hoping that a flying unicorn would come by, spitting magical no-dairy butter at your foods.  But, alas, I’m still awaiting on the dairy-spitting, Skittles powered unicorn to come my way...

Instead, we have picked out and used three non-dairy butter alternatives.  I suppose, at this point, I’d have to start referring to non-dairy butter truly as a margarine, seeing as it’s all alternatives.  But, I digress (you usually do.  -Chrissy).

The very first non-dairy butter that we tried was from the Smart Balance company.

I suppose the smartest way to do this review is going to be follow the format of texture, flavor and usefulness in cooking.

Smart Balance Light
Texture: Smart Balance light’s texture is pretty soft right out of the refrigerator, but not so soft as to be runny.  As for mouth feel, it’s a very smooth product, but seems to leave almost a “film” feeling inside your mouth after you eat it.  As for flavor, this is where we start to have issues.  It has this strange backend taste that I just can’t quite put my finger on.  I suppose it’s the oils that make up the product, seeing as it has a number of different oils that make up the spread.  The BIGGEST issue, by far, with this particular product is that it is absolutely NOT TO BE USED in baking of any sort.  Even worse than that, when it melts, it has this awful tendency to have its flavors become even more pungent than when not melted and it leaves everything with this strange paper/metal/“I’ve just licked concrete" flavor.  Use as a last resort if the store doesn’t have anything else.

My Moo Rating: 2/5

Fleischmann’s Light Spread
Fleischmann’s Light Spread was actually the last of the spreads that we tried in conjunction with this article.  We were relatively pleased with the texture of the product, though it is incredibly soft.  You remove it from the refrigerator and it already has the solidity of “softened butter.” You can basically put a finger right through the entire tub contents, though I wouldn’t suggest that unless you’ve done a surgical scrub down of your digits as no one will want to touch the product afterwards.  Although, I suppose, if you are claiming it for yourself (“I do hereby claim this buttery spread in the name of _______!”) it’s not a problem.  The flavor is very good, nice and salty with just that hint of sweetness that you expect from a buttermilk product.  Cooking with it works well, too.  Though, if you are needing a very solid product, this is not the place to look.  It doesn’t turn colors when cooked or give off a horrible smell or flavor after it is heated, and that is a huge plus in the non-dairy spread area.
My Moo Rating: 4/5

Earth Balance Soy-Free
Even though we didn’t try this product last, I’m reviewing it last because it’s my favorite of the three, and momma always said, “save the best for last.”  This spread has a texture more firm than the other two products, which seems to make it a more natural candidate when you are needing to work with unsoftened butter for a recipe.  The flavor is very nice.  Though there is a slight aftertaste, it is not at all objectionable and actually has a nutty quality about it.  It’s as useful in cooking as the Fleischmann’s, too.  It melts beautifully and doesn’t seem to separate into its constituent parts, retains its buttery flavor and just seems to work well.  We chose the soy free as I’m still researching the overall effects of soy’s natural estrogen on children and adults.  This is definitely our favorite, in case you missed me saying that before.
My Moo Rating: 5/5

So, overall, you can do it!  You can go butter free and not feel like you have to wave a yak.  Happy eating!

Monday, May 14, 2012


You know, when I sit back and think about it, I’m really a comfort food junkie.  I basically want to be a good southern gentleman with good southern food values.  It’s much like they say on that most manly of shows “Hot in Cleveland,” (It’s got Betty White, for cryin’ out loud!) “We want our men to be ungroomed and our vegetables to be meat.”

It’s really a simple equation.  Not much to me.  I used to be made of cheese... but now... I’m just a poor substitute made of tapioca starch and other “flavor bits.”  C'est la vie.

This weekend was all about comfort.  We were very excited to share Mother’s Day time with both my lovely bride and my mother for mother’s day and comfort just seemed to go right along with what many moms give to their kids.  We ended up having Daiya nachos (again) with a little different recipe and then made our own homemade cinnamon rolls, which are TO DIE FOR.  I think several small children were actually harmed in the making of these recipes.  So, let’s get to it.

Daiya Nachos Redux
Our previous Daiya nachos, while tasty, were a little more complicated to make due to the number of ingredients, and at the end of the day, don’t have a lot of that kick that we Texans are used to in our nacho cheese.  So, we decided to make it again with every man’s favorite vegetable... Rotel.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 C Daiya Cheddar Shreds
1 C chicken or veggie broth
1/4 C Tofutti Sour Cream
2 Tbps. Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 can of Rotels (in the spice of your choice)

You’ll need:
a medium sauce pan

Combine your tofutti products and chicken broth together over medium head until you have a creamy sauce.  Add your Daiya shreds and stir to melt.  Add your Rotels to the mix and heat through and through.  Enjoy in good health.

Optional: Put the Rotels into a blender to make fairly smooth before adding to the recipe.

My Moo Rating:  4/5

Yup, it’s as good as I remember, and funny enough, when cooled, it acts EXACTLY like Velveeta.  You know, “LIQUID GOOOOOLD!”  But enough about me...

We used that and made nachos with other leftovers from the night before.  What?  There were vegetables... ROTELS... remember?  WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME!??  j/k

Moving on

Opinionated Cinnamon Rolls
About a year ago, my wife came upon this recipe for cinnamon rolls that will make your slap your momma (can I have a less violent menu).  So, naturally, it’s become popular in our home.  Benton’s been on a jag lately about food (shocker, I know), asking for specific items.  Who gave this kid an opinion?  That’s what I want to know.  The other things he’s asking for is my wife’s AWESOME kolaches, I’ll share that recipe coming up.  So, here you go.

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F (43 degrees C))
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup margarine, softened

1/3 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1 1/2 cups unsifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons warm water, or as needed

You’ll need:
a small sauce pan
several measuring cups/spoons
two mixing bowls

  Proof your yeast as directed on the package.  Stir the potato flakes, milk, 1/2 cup water, white sugar, and salt together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 110 degrees F (63 degrees C). Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until smooth, then whisk in the warm milk mixture and yeast. Stir in the flour and margarine until a dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface, and knead until smooth and satiny, 10 to 20 minutes.
  Place the dough into a greased bowl, and turn over to grease both sides of the dough. Cover, and set in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, and knead again briefly to push out the air. Cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1/3 cup softened butter with the brown sugar and ground cinnamon until blended. Feel free to make extra if you like more filling in your cinnamon rolls.
  Once the dough has rested, turn onto a floured surface and divide in two. Stretch and roll one half into a 10x14-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cinnamon filling onto the dough, and sprinkle with half of the raisins. Roll up the dough from the narrow end, and pinch the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Grease two baking sheets, and cut each roll into 12 pieces. Arrange the cinnamon rolls onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  Bake the cinnamon rolls in the preheated oven until light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Prepare the glaze by stirring the confectioners' sugar with 1 Tbsp butter, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons warm water until smooth. Use additional water if needed to make a pourable glaze. Pour the glaze over the cinnamon rolls while still warm.

Whew... I’m exhausted just writing down that recipe!  What you’ll end up with is really amazing to eat and to share.  And it makes a ton of rolls.  You have probably enough to make two dozen of them.  You can also take the leftovers and turn them into a cinnamon raison loaf, which would be FANTASTIC.

I PROMISE they are not that green when you make them.  Stinking fluorescent lights at the church...

My Moo Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

But, Daddy, It Has Vimatins, and I NEED Them

One of the things that we started to worry about as we were moving toward having no dairy in our lives was the lack of vitamin D and calcium that our children would miss as a result of not having milk anymore.  I mean, it’s probably fine if I didn’t actually love my children, but I kind of felt that nutrition should be toward the top of my list when it came to actually continuing to care for them.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that almond milk (specifically the Silk PureAlmond brand) has 25% more calcium than a regular glass of milk.  And all of that without that pesky, annoying side effect of making me want to shoot my kids!  What a deal we have for you today!

We’ve also put the boys on vitamins, but found that a number of vitamins (especially the “cheaper” tablet brands) have milk or milk byproducts directly in them as it helps to dilute the cost as well as the flavor of the vitamin.  We have since switched to Flintstones gummy vitamins, as they are see through, taste good (relatively speaking) and don’t make us act weird.  Well, any weirder than we already did.

Morning Muffins
The boys and I were getting tired of having PopTarts (no milk, woohoo!) and no-milk cereals for breakfast every day, so Chrissy was nice enough last night to make us some Duncan Hines Simple Mornings blueberry streusel muffins as well as some Simple Mornings cinnamon muffins.  They were quite good.  If you have egg allergies, you can replace the eggs in it with bananas, which is kind of interesting.  Gabriel and Benton both ate the cinnamon ones and said that they were very enjoyable.  I had a blueberry one to start and finished with a cinnamon one.  Here’s where we run into trouble.

My milk reactions are somewhat different than the boys’.  Theirs immediately affects their behavior, driving them into fits of being uncontrollable (sometimes for hours).  My allergy is much closer to a lactose intolerance in that, a bit after eating products with milk in them, my stomach begins to ache in a very odd way and I just don’t feel “right.”  I mean, generally speaking, I don’t feel right, but what can you expect from someone that works at a nonprofit for a living.  That right there should tell you that something’s wrong with me (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

So, on my way to work, my stomach starts hurting and I can tell that something has had milk in it.  Uh oh, that’s not good.  What could it have been?  Well as “luck” would have it, the second part of my allergy leads me to burping (not attractive, I know).  This gets kinda gross, so skip to the next part if you’re easily squeamish.  My burps end up tasting like the offending item.  In this case, I could taste blueberries VERY strongly, but no cinnamon, so naturally, I think it might be the blueberry muffins.  I plan on trying them tomorrow morning, because diagnosing a problem ingredient/item is much easier when you only have a sore tummy but can actually use your brain (stop laughing, Chrissy).

Recipes, Recipes... This is an APB for Recipes

I’m sort of running short of ideas to write about at the moment, so I’m going to do something a little odd (this is becoming a habit).  I’m going to ask you to give me some of your favorite recipe ideas in the comments section and I’m going to try making them milk-free for you.  Every family has those “staple” items that they want to continue to eat after they go milk or milk/soy free, but just can’t seem to figure out.  Or they can figure it out, but it takes 800 ingredients to get there (NO FUN).  
Well, The Ervins want to help.  So submit your comments and leave me your real name or email, and I’ll email/Facebook you to find out what the full recipe is so that I can remake it.