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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dairy-free deliciousness {Spinach, Bacon, & Goat Cheese Pasta and Crockpot Bacon Ranch Chicken}.

Since Kiernan's dairy allergy diagnosis, I have been working really hard to think outside of the box when it comes to dairy free recipes.  We are I am a big fan of cheese.  And butter.  And milk.  In a pinch, I can always whip up an easy meal involving cream of whatever soup.  

That isn't an option anymore, so I've been trying to think differently about how I prepare dinner.  We've done a lot of the obvious dairy-free staples - roasts, pork loin, tacos, stir fry.  But I've really been jonesin' for something hearty and creamy.  Especially because it's winter.  So I feel the need to fill our bellies with warm yummy foods before the temp dips from the 70s during the night into the 50s at night.  Brrrrrrr.

It's fine to hate me.  I'm a total smart ass.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite successfully dairy-free recipes from this week.  Both were huge hits with all 4 boys, and I like anything with bacon.  So it was a total win.  

First up, is Crock Pot Bacon Ranch Chicken from Six Sisters' Stuff.  If you've never visited this website, do it as soon as your done reading this post.  They have soooo many awesome recipes.  

This recipe was very clearly not dairy-free, but I found some Tofutti Sour Supreme (sour cream substitute) at Publix the other day and was anxious to try it in a recipe.  I was nervous as I think that even using fat-free sour cream can sometimes make a recipe taste weird, but this was a big success.  

(I forgot to take a picture of mine, so I'm borrowing theirs.  It's way prettier than mine would have been anyway.  Mine looked a bit different, but not much.  You can find the original recipe here.  )

Crock Pot Bacon Ranch Chicken

4 strips bacon, cooked & chopped/crumbled
2 tsp minced garlic 
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 can creamed corn 
1 cup Tofutti Sour Supreme
1 whole boneless skinless chick breast
8 oz pasta (I used elbow macaroni since it was in the pantry)

Cook and crumble/chop bacon.  Mix garlic, ranch mix, creamed corn, Sour Supreme together.  Place chicken in crock pot (I put it in frozen since it was a last minute dinner choice, but I think you're really not supposed to put frozen chicken in the crock pot).  Pour mixture over chicken.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-6 hours, depending on your crock pot.  When cooked, shred chicken with 2 forks and mix with cooked pasta.  

I mixed in a can of peas before I served it to add in some more veggies.  Check out the original recipe for the dairy-lover version if you're not sure about the creamed corn or the Sour Supreme.

The next recipe was a direct result of my lack of menu planning lately and my need to use up random things in the fridge.  The rest of the bacon that I didn't use in the crockpot chicken needed to be cooked and used, I had a half package of spinach that only had a day or 2 of life left in it, and a wedge of goat cheese that I knew wouldn't last much longer either.  

When I have items that I need to use but don't know what to do with them, I type them into a Pinterest search and gather some inspiration and wing it.  My biggest inspiration for this dish was found here, but I changed it quite a bit.  This was a HUGE hit with all of the boys.  It's a little creamier than Brian generally prefers his pasta to be, and I could have thinned it a bit, but I like things creamy.  So there.  

Spinach, Bacon, and Tomato on Goat Cheese Pasta 

8 slices bacon, chopped/crumbled
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups packed spinach
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes (I like the kind with basil, oregano, & garlic)
4 oz goat cheese
8 oz linguine

Boil water for the pasta and begin to cook the bacon.  Once the bacon is cooked, dry it and chop or crumble it.  Set aside.  Drain some of the bacon grease if you'd like, but reserve enough in the pan to saute onions, garlic, and spinach.  Saute onions and garlic until tender, then add spinach and stir until spinach wilts.  Drain the can of tomatoes, reserving the liquid in a separate bowl.  Add tomatoes and bacon to spinach and onion pan.  Cover and simmer on low.  

Meanwhile, drain cooked pasta in a strainer.  Melt goat cheese in pasta pot on low heat.  Add the reserved tomato juice and stir into a sauce.  If it isn't thin enough, use a spoon to get more of the tomato juices from the tomato, spinach, and onion pan.  Add until satisfied with the consistency of the sauce.  Return pasta to pan and toss to coat with sauce.  Serve tomato mixture on top of pasta, or mix all together.

Delish.  You could use turkey bacon and whole wheat or veggie pasta to healthify it up a bit.  Either way, I'll definitely be making this again!

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