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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.


Charred Citrus Broccoli

For anyone who has a child, or a husband, who won’t eat plain vegetables, this is a flavorful way to serve broccoli as a side dish. I made it most recently to go with a pulled pork tenderloin recipe. For awhile I was cooking broccoli by lightly steaming in the microwave or steam cooker then adding a little SmartBalance and Mrs. Dash all-purpose salt free seasoning. I could only get Eric to eat about two pieces–which he claimed was a full serving of vegetables–then I usually ate the rest. I love broccoli in any form!

At some point Eric started coming home from work raving about the vegetables they served at Google. Well, I’m no trained chef, but I wanted to give some dishes a shot. I asked Eric for the best descriptions he could possibly give. This was hard to work with, but I did my best. I know that Google chefs post typed ingredients above each dish served in the food places. If I asked a woman to figure out the ingredients for me, she would probably take a picture on her Android, or even ask the server in person, jotting it down and shooting me a quick text. However…

I made due with the description of crisp, crunchy, charred, and tangy. I immediately recognized why Eric loved this brocolli–he loves crispy, toasted, burnt things. When he asks for toast he means it better have some black on it. I looked up some recipes and experimented. What I came up with was apparently correct and “better than Google,” which makes me feel accomplished. This is the simple broccoli that he will get another serving of, or eat right out of the pan. I have broiled this recipe as well as baked it and the result is great either way.


1 head fresh broccoli
1/2 1 lime
1/2 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt
black pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and drain broccoli, shaking dry. Cut off the stem and discard, then break up the head into bite size pieces and place in a medium size bowl.

2. Coat broccoli pieces in the juice of half a lemon and half a lime, olive oil, then sprinkle with a dash or two of sea salt and black pepper. Stir to coat. The broccoli pieces will turn a brighter shade of green when evenly coated in citrus juice and oil, and liquid will be absorbed.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place broccoli pieces, spreading them apart (not on top of each other) so that they can charr evenly. Cook for 10 minutes, checking often. They are done when they are slightly blackened. Should be crisp, crunchy, charred, and tangy.

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Simple Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries are beautiful to photograph. The rich red color reminds me of Christmas decorations like holly berries and poinsettias, complete with pine trees and snow. It’s not snowing in California, but we are still getting into the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost here, and cranberry sauce’s tart, yet sweet flavor goes great with turkey. Eat it on hot sliced turkey, or cold on a leftover turkey sandwich. It stays for weeks in the fridge. I spiced mine up a bit and added some orange zest for a citrusy flavor. Cranberry sauce is so easy to make out of fresh cranberries, I won’t buy the canned stuff ever again.

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp allspice
1. Mix water and sugar together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

2. Add cranberries, return liquid to a boil and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Skins will pop and it will begin to convert to a jam consistency.

3. Remove from heat and add zest and allspice. Cool to room temperature to serve. The sauce will thicken upon standing.

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Zucchini Salad

Coming up with some fresh ways to use the zucchini and herbs in my garden, I put this quick salad together. It works best with very thin slices.  It would probably taste great with some sliced tomatoes as well! Though my zucchini plant is barely producing anymore fruit, I have an abundance of tomatoes.

This recipe requires lemon olive oil. It’s amazing as a salad dressing or dip for Italian bread. I haven’t found it in a supermarket, but you should be able to find it at a specialty food market or Italian deli (or online). I’ve found it in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy–Bloomfield, and California’s farmer’s markets. Sigona’s has a wide selection of flavored olive oils that you can taste at their store.

This was a special treat just for me since my husband hates vinegar. I love it! Pickles, dressing, beets,  olives, chips–I’ll pretty much eat anything vinegary.


1 zucchini, thinly sliced
20-30 whole parsley leaves, stems removed
4 basil leaves, sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic


1. In a large shallow bowl or baking dish, mix all ingredients and spread out in an even layer.

2. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Best if left overnight. Make at night and enjoy for lunch the next day :-)

Lemon Olive Oil from Il Fornaio


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