What's REALLY cooking?
  Chicken Tacos
I got this recipe from the El Charro book (see Chicken Enchiladas). It calls for deep fried tacos, with baking suggested as a "low fat" alternative. I baked these and they cooked nicely. The procedure is similar to the enchiladas, but with a very different result. The key to these was the taco sauce from scratch, so don't be lazy! It's easy and it really makes the meal a success. For a side dish I added 8 oz. corn and 8 oz tomato sauce to a Lipton spanish rice packet.
Here's the taco recipe (very simple!):

12 corn tortillas
2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
taco fixings

Boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes, shred, and season with salt & pepper.

microwave 3 tortillas at a time for 30 sec. (to make them soft). Fill each with chicken, roll closed and hold with a toothpick.

Repeat for all tortillas, and place them in an oven dish.

Bake on 350 deg. F for about 15 minutes (until tortillas are mostly crispy).

Top with taco sauce, and garnish with cheese, sour cream, etc.

And here's the sauce recipe:

15 oz. crushed or diced tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
1 1/2 C water
1/2 onion, chopped
2 T minced garlic
1/2 C oil
1/4 C vinegar
4 T dried oregano
1 t salt

Mix all ingredients in saucepan and brig to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple minutes and then remove from heat.

Can be served hot or cold (I prefer chilled, at least to room temperature. You can put a small container in the freezer for quick cooling).
  Mexicali skillet
Today I borrowed a recipe for a one-pot skillet dish with ground meat and rice. I thought it sounded easy and similar to other things we've made before. I added olives (even though I hate them, everyone else likes them, so I just eat around them), chopped onion, and minced garlic, and I substituted ground chicken for ground beef. Those changes turned out fine, but there must have been a typo in the amount of rice that was called for, because 3 cups almost overflowed my skillet, took twice as much water as was called for, and made the entire dish a little bland. If I did this one again I would certainly cut the rice in half to 1.5 cups. I took care of the blandness by adding Cholula and a layer of cheese (when possible). Overall it was OK, but it needs some tweaking to be really good. The ingredient amounts below are how much I actually wound up putting in.

1 lb ground chicken
1 15 oz. can of corn
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
3 cups white rice
3 C water
chili powder
2 t minced garlic
1/2 chopped onion
2 T oil
1 small can of olives

Heat oil and grill chopped onion & garlic seasoned with salt, pepper, & chili powder.

Add chicken and brown it, breaking it into small pieces.

Add remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste, and simmer until rice is fully done.
  Chicken Enchiladas
I used a recipe for chicken enchiladas from a book about the famous Tucson mexican restaurant El Charro. I used enchilada sauce from a jar, against Carlotta's advice, but I didn't have the time (or chiles) to make sauce from scratch. It was really simple, and got many compliments from my wife. I think it was her favorite dish yet. My daughter even ate some, despite her distaste for anything with spices or flavor! She does like the beans and rice however. The photo shows the "adult" version, with cheese, sour cream, and avocado. The allergy-friendly version omits these items. It was fairly simple to make, but looks impressive, and it was bursting with flavor. They're only as good as the enchilada sauce, but even most of the jarred stuff tastes pretty good. The trick is to find a jarred sauce that is allergy-friendly (sometimes tough when avoiding soy protein). The rice is the lipton brand spanish rice (allergy friendly for our allergens) and Old El Paso refried beans. These enchiladas can be filled with anything (shrimp, beef, veggies, etc.) if you're bored with chicken.

1 lb chicken breast
12 corn tortillas
1 C canola oil
30 oz. enchilada sauce
1 lb. shredded cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
1 avocado (optional)
small can of olives (optional)

Boil chicken for 20 minutes, then shred and place underneath damp paper towel.

Heat oil to medium in a shallow frying pan. Dip each tortilla briefly in the oil, place on waxed paper, fill (loosely) with shredded chicken, roll, and place seam down in a casserole dish.

When the dish is full, smother in enchilada sauce, sprinkle on olives (optional), then blanket in cheese (optional).

Bake at 350 deg. F until bubbly (about 10 minutes) and garnish with sliced avocado and sour cream (optional).
  Waffles with no milk, eggs, or soy? You betcha...
I loved having pancakes on the weekends when I was young, and I loved making them for my son when I got older. My wife got me a VillaWare 2001 belgian waffle maker (that I love!) a few years ago, so I started alternating waffles and pancakes.

When my daughter was old enough to want pancakes and waffles too, I looked long and hard to find recipes that don't have milk, eggs, or soy. Most milk-free recipes use soymilk, because water (or even ricemilk) just isn't thick enough. To top it off... without eggs to help the batter rise and have the right consistency, it's damn near impossible to make good waffles.

After trying LOTS of recipes that gave my kids the "ughh... this is gross" face, I stumbled across a waffle recipe that is amazingly simple. I tweaked it a little, but didn't need to change much. I've made a modified version for pancakes, but I'll leave that for another day.

This recipe works great with our belgian waffler. I won't say it tastes quite as good as buttery, eggy waffles, but it has much better consistency and taste than any other recipe without eggs or milk that I've tried. My son, who likes the "regular" kind better will even eat it, and so will I. If dairy is ok for you, then I find these to be especially good topped with fruit and yogurt (my personal favorite: blueberries with blueberry yogurt). This recipe makes three batches on our belgian 4-square, and I freeze the leftovers for re-heating during the week.

3 C Flour
1 T Baking powder
2 T Sugar
3 C Water (or ricemilk)
4 T Non-dairy margarine (I use Fleischmann's unsalted margarine)
3 T Maple syrup

Mix the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.

Melt the margarine and mix with the water and syrup in a separate bowl.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingrediets, until most lumps are gone. It's ok to leave some lumps, and you don't want to over-mix it. As the baking powder gets wet, the batter will rise and stiffen slightly (while the waffle iron gets hot). Cook and enjoy!
  Baked tomato rice with chicken
This turned out great and got rave reviews from my son. Both kids ate around the onion and tomatoes (picking out the rice and chicken) but ate it well. I sprinkled cheddar on top for those who don't have a milk allergy, which was tasty. I don't think the cheese is necessary, since there's a lot of flavor already, but it's nice for those that can have it. This recipe was a nice new flavor that easily satisfied all of our allergy needs.

2 T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
5 t minced garlic
1/2 t thyme
1 1/2 C long-grain white rice
4 C chicken broth
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 T basil
2 T chives
1 lb cooked chicken breast, sliced into small pieces

Heat the oil in a large stove-friendly casserole over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and thyme and cook for one more minute.

Add the rice and cook for two minutes until it's coated and translucent. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and the bay leaf, and boil for 5 minutes until the broth is almost absorbed.

Remove from heat, stir in basil, chives, and chicken. Bake covered at 350 deg. F for 25 minutes. Serve from casserole.
  Fidellos Tostados
I added some sauteed chicken breast and frozen spinach to this recipe to make it a complete one-pot meal. This turned out to be a good pasta/rice dish that the kids really liked. It tasted like something you'd get in an italian restaurant. When I do it again, I'll probably add some garlic and basil. Peas might be good too, but my daughter's allergic to peas.

12 oz. broken-up vermicelli or angel hair pasta
1/2 C long-grain white rice
3 T olive oil
15 oz. can diced diced tomatoes (drained)
2 1/2 C chicken broth or water (have extra ready)
1 bay leaf
1 t oregano
1/2 t thyme
salt & pepper

Put pasta and rice in large heavy saucepan or stove-ready casserole over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until light golden.

Stir in 2 T olive oil, chopped tomatoes, broth/water, bay leaf, oregano, and thyme. Season with a teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 8 minutes stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to low and cook covered for about 10 minutes until the rice and pasta are tender and all the liquid is absorbed. (If the rice and pasta are too firm add 1/2 cup more broth/water and cook, covered, another 5 minutes.) Remove from heat.

Fluff into serving bowl and drizzle with remaining 1 T olive oil.
This husband/father is going to learn how to cook for a family with significant dietary restrictions and picky children. I'm going to focus on dinners because that's the real issue. Keep in mind I'm starting from scratch. My repertoire includes mac & cheese (with ham and peas, if I get fancy), burritos, spaghetti, and other variations on the meat-with-pasta-and-tomato-sauce universal meal. The lack of variety gets painfully old, very fast.

I'll share the recipes I try, and tell you about the successes and failures both in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

Our children are allergic to nuts, eggs, milk, soy, peas, lentils, strawberries, sesame, kiwis, cherries, and chick peas. After cooking the same few dinners over and over, we got fed up and needed a change. I’ve decided to really learn to cook, and to share what I learn here. As I find recipes and adapt them to our allergy situation, I’ll share what works (and what doesn’t). If you have food allergic children and need ideas for new things to feed them, or just want some simple new recipes to try, I think you’ll find some here.

Please remember to check all product ingredient listings carefully when avoiding allergens.

You can contact me at patrick.dylan [at] gmail [dot] com.