Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some of My VERY Favorite Dinner Recipes

I LOVE to cook and bake.  But I HATE spending lots of money on ingredients.  When our kids were diagnosed with food allergies our grocery bill tripled.  Living gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and so many other "frees" was extremely frustrating.  I don't understand why children with allergies and other special dietary needs don't get any type of disability.  Just the cost of feeding them is enough to break the bank.  After two months of insanely high priced grocery shopping trips I was determined to find recipes for meals that were still "free" of all of the ingredients we needed to avoid, but not expensive.  I hosted a recipe contest on facebook where I challenged friends to find recipes that were safe for our family.  My grandmother started saving me all the magazines she subscribes to.  I searched every one looking for recipes that would work.  I also purchased a few special diet cook books, but most of the recipes were too expensive to make and called for ingredients I didn't even know existed, or they were free of one or two things, but then required the use of other things I couldn't use.

A year later, I have compiled an entire binder full of recipes that are safe and inexpensive for our family to eat.  I still search through every magazine I see, but for the most part we eat very well.  There are only a few ingredients that I need to buy in the health food section of the grocery store.

I keep meaning to share some of our favorite dinner recipes.  Today is the day!  I hope you enjoy! They are delicious and can be altered easily to fit any diet.  The best thing is that they don't require "special" ingredients!

All the recipes are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and...  They are free of A LOT of stuff!

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Salsa

(This recipe does call for cheese and sour cream, but we leave it out, and offer it on the side to those who are able to eat it.  We use a fryer chicken instead of a rotisserie chicken to omit possible allergens.  You can substitute the green salsa for any kind of salsa if you'd like or eat it without, which we've done too!)



  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add zucchini, onion, and corn and cook, stirring, until onion begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add chicken, Monterey Jack, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook each tortilla until softened, 10 to 15 seconds per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
  5. Divide chicken mixture among the tortillas, roll them up, and place them in a baking dish, seam-side down. Bake until heated through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the tomatillos, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and ½ teaspoon salt until finely chopped. Serve the enchiladas with the salsa and sour cream, if using.
Chicken with Acorn Squash and Tomatoes



  1. Heat oven to 425° F.
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash, tomatoes, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Roast the vegetables until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Season the chicken with the coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per side.
  6. Serve the chicken with the squash and tomatoes and sprinkle with the oregano.
Columbian Chicken and Potato Soup

(I use 2 cups frozen corn kernels instead of cobs, omit celery and onion, and serve lime juice on the side.)



  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the chicken broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and corn and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken and corn from the saucepan and reserve.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl or measuring cup and reserve.
  4. Wipe out the saucepan and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the pota-toes are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken and cut the corn pieces into 1-inch-thick rounds. Return the chicken and corn to the soup. Add the lime juice, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve the soup with the avocado, cilantro, capers, and lime wedges
Homemade Taco Seasoning Packet Replacement

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, it was given to me by a friend, but it has been a LIFE SAVER!  There are only four ingredients, no preservatives, no sugar, no msg, etc.

(We omit chili powder and add  1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes because of Adam's allergies.)

1 packet

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt or garlic salt

1. Stir seasoning and 3/4 cup water into 1 pound browned and drained hamburger or any other meat, simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Kale With Roasted Peppers and Olives

(We use red wine vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar and black olives instead of Kalamata olives.  Any type of pepper can be used.)



  1. Cut the kale into bite-size pieces, removing any tough stems. Rinse and shake dry.
  2. Warm the oil and garlic in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Remove the garlic as soon as it browns (don't let it burn). Add the kale and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Uncover and add the sugar, salt, olives, and peppers. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Spoon into a serving dish; scatter the garlic over the top. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
All recipes and images are from Real Simple magazine, except for the taco seasoning.  I hope you enjoy!

What is your favorite inexpensive special dietary needs recipe?  We'd love for you to share it in the comments section of the blog!


  1. Nice! I really like the kale recipe! I'll have to look through my recipes...

  2. Thanks ,these all look yummy, I will have to do some tweaking and try them. I wish I loved to cook... that would make life with a special diet easier. It just stresses me out. This will help and they look delicious. Now if only Elenore would eat...

  3. I've been trying to think of some good recipes but few of my meals are preplanned since I'm cooking only for one other person. One of my faves is 1 can black beans, 1 can corn, 1/2 cup (or more) salsa, handful of cheese (optional) heated up together and served over rice or with chips. If I have fresh cilantro or tomatoes on hand its even better.
    This Rachael Ray recipe is one of my faves also.