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don't miss dairy

Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.


Irish Bangers and Whiskey

These Irish sausages are a fun and simple option as an appetizer for your St. Patrick’s Day Party. I recommend using some Irish Whiskey, but whatever you have on hand will work great. Throw the ingredients together and walk away while they cook in the sweet whiskey sauce. Broil to make them crispy, transport in the Crock Pot, then serve them with toothpicks.

While I waited for the sausages to cook, I picked out my outfit for our couple’s St. Patrick’s Day Party. Unfortunately, I don’t have any fun t-shirts that say things like “Luck O’ the Irish,” or my personal favorite, “Patrick was a Saint, I ain’t.” But my family used to go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. We have a direct Irish heritage on my Dad’s side. Even my little brother’s name is Patrick. And Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the place to be on St. Paddy’s Day.

I’ve had some serious adventures on St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh. I went to a women’s private college called Carlow University–it was founded by Irish nuns. They have a sister university in Carlow, Ireland. I was on the dance team, and one year the student activities director asked if we would learn an Irish step dance routine and perform in the city parade. Of course we said yes, since it sounded like a fun opportunity.

Learning Irish step dancing was really fun, but the parade was a total misadventure. First, we almost missed it, because trying to get a bus to the parade route was impossible. Public buses of college students passed us by because they were so full. We were just standing on the side of the road, a group of young college girls in our green Carlow hoodies, all done up for a performance. Eventually, a party bus decked out in St. Patrick’s Day decorations and flashing lights saw us waiting and picked us up. Whoever was running the bus took us to the parade route with no charge, blasting crazy music the whole way there. That was pretty awesome.

Then the parade started and we danced our routine for a few miles in icy cold, slushy Pittsburgh weather, right in front of the truck transporting Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog. I remember my tennis shoes and socks being completely soaked through. My black pants were wet all the way up to my knees. We were cold and miserable, and to top it all off, the drunk college guys threw green beads at us yelling “Dance! Dance!” I vowed to never do that again, but it was one of those experiences you just can’t make up, filled with memories I’ll never forget.

I was able to save my shoes, but I haven’t been to a parade since. I hope you have a positive St. Patrick’s Day experience filled with green drinks and lots of luck. Enjoy this Irish Banger recipe along with my recipe for Roasted Potato Wedges. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


2 lb. Irish Bangers (16 links), separated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup whiskey
1/2 packed brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top


1. Sear the sausages in a skillet with vegetable oil over medium heat until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes).

2. Let sit for five-ten minutes to cool down for cutting.

3. Cut sausages into 1/2 inch slices, perfect bite size pieces for appetizers. Add sausages to the Crock Pot and turn on low setting.

4. Mix together 1/2 cup whiskey with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar until blended but not dissolved. Pour mixture over sausage pieces in the Crock Pot and stir to coat. Slow cook for three to four hours.

5. You can serve them like this, or, to make them crispy, broil them. Turn off Crock Pot. With a slotted spoon, place sausages in a broiling pan, sprinkle with brown sugar, and broil for three minutes. Pour the excess liquid from the Crock Pot into a measuring cup. Add 1/8 cup of the whiskey liquid back into the Crock Pot and discard the rest.

6. Once sausages are browned, add them back to the Crock Pot with the small amount of liquid to stay warm. Transport them to the party and turn the Crock Pot on low to keep warm for guests. Serve with toothpicks.

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Summer Plums

The family I work for gave me a huge bag of red plums from their backyard tree last week, so over the weekend I found some delicious plum recipes on the internet.

I discovered plum bread. I never knew there was such a thing as this and I was skeptical about how it would turn out, but I’m glad I tried it. Forget pumpkin and zucchini bread, this sweet bread is my new favorite.

It’s easy to make it dairy free by using Smart Balance Light and soy yogurt. You can also substitute applesauce for the yogurt. If you use greek yogurt (I did), there is much less lactose in it so it shouldn’t be bothersome unless you are highly sensitive. I’m sensitive to lactose but I can eat about a cup of greek yogurt with a lactaid pill and be okay.

You can also cut the sugar by using half sugar and half SPLENDA, or use all SPLENDA. I recommend using a sweetener even if your plums are very sweet, but this would still be a good bread with less sugar.

I also made a balsamic plum reduction sauce to go with a pork tenderloin. Since my husband hates anything with vinegar, I reduced the two tablespoons of vinegar the recipe called for with a teaspoon of vinegar. It smelled just right and tasted amazing to me, so I didn’t want to add any more than that.

Eric and I took some pictures of our dinner with our new camera. I’ll get better and more creative with it as I keep practicing!

Plum Bread


1 1/2 cups pitted, chopped plums–keep the skins on!
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 cup Smart Balance Buttery Spread Light, softened
1 cup sugar–I used 1/2 SPLENDA, 1/2 white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs–you can use 4 eggs whites, or a combination, for less fat
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup of plain or vanilla soy yogurt–actually, any fruity flavor will do!
Sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan with olive oil spray or Smart Balance.

2. After chopping your plums, sprinkle them with 1 tablespoon of flour and toss to coat then set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs with a wire whisk until smooth. Add the yogurt and mix until well combined.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly stir the dry mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.

5. Once smooth, fold in the chopped plums and pour batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Let cool for another 30 minutes before slicing, but enjoy that first warm slice before it cools completely. Bet the taste will surprise you!

What it looks like right before the oven.

Pork Tenderloin with a Balsamic Plum Reduction


1 pork tenderloin
sea salt and black peper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 small plums, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons blueberry juice–I think a berry jam would work here. I used the blueberry fruit and syrup from the fruit on the bottom yogurt.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Rinse the pork tenderloin then pat dry and season each side with sea salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet until hot, then sear the tenderloin for three minutes on each side before transferring the pork to the lined baking sheet. 

3. Roast the tenderloin for 15-20 minutes depending on the size. Once cooked, let stand for five minutes before slicing.

4. While the pork is cooking, begin the reduction sauce. Add the plums, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and juice or syrup into a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat, until ingredients are well blended and plums are soft, about 5-10 minutes.

5. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to the saucepan and simmer until reduced and thickened, another 5-10 minutes depending on how much liquid you have added. Spoon the plum sauce over the sliced pork medallions and enjoy with Herby Quinoa. Share with your hungry Chihuahua!

Mia’s favorite spot–right by the stove.

Balsamic Plum Reduction

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