Birthday Parties

Birthday Party Blues

My original post for the week has been scrapped since a birthday party is more important. I received a call this weekend from another Mom asking which brand of chocolate chips we prefer for baking chocolate chip cookies for an upcoming birthday party. Chocolate is by far the trickiest part of having nut allergies. There are so many RULES!

First, very happy to have this discussion with the other Mom, who also has nut allergies in her household.  The difference though is that her house is just peanut allergy, whereas my house is peanut and tree nut. Sometimes you’ll see this abbreviated as PN/TN. We are PN and TN.

The ONLY chocolate chips that I have been using with my PN/TN allergy kiddo is the Enjoy Life brand. You can commonly find this brand at Target in the baking section on the bottom shelf. Today, I paid $5.05 for one bag. They aren’t cheap. I needed two bags. That’s a bummer. $10 in chocolate to make some chocolate chip cookies really makes me sad. If my husband didn’t have such an awesome job, there is no way we’d be making chocolate chip cookies today. Period. End of story. Sugar cookies it would be.

Chocolate is an everyday essential. Like coffee – I need it or I’m a grump. Not  a lot. Just a nibble. Dark chocolate preferably. Chocolate is always stashed in our house. Ghirardelli is probably my favorite, but unfortunately, not safe for my home. Just like their chocolate chips, hot chocolate mix, coco powder, baking squares, various chocolate bars and individual candies, none of it is safe if you have PN/TN allergies.

Chocolate that we CAN keep in the house:

  • Hershey Kisses (in the classic bag, not holiday bag or wrapper)
  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Girl Scout Cookies, Thin Mints
  • Oreos + Oreo Thins (I LOVE the mint)
  • Junior Mints (
  • Tootsie Rolls (and all tootsie products)
  • 1.55oz  Plain Hershey Chocolate Bar (

For special events and holidays, I’ve ordered from Vermont Nut Free Chocolate  which is what I’ll be working on later this week, Easter preparations.

If a chocolate is not labeled, I deem it unsafe for eating. When in doubt, throw it out. Not worth the risk.

How do you prepare for a birthday party when you child is 5?

There is nothing scarier than dropping your child off at a birthday party, only to find out that there is nothing safe for them to eat (all while the other kids are enjoying cakes, cookies, pizzas, etc.).  Since the school that my daughter goes to Preschool of the Arts is 100% nut free, the parents are OVER THE TOP AMAZING at communicating with everyone about ingredients, etc. to INCLUDE everyone at birthdays + parties. Seriously, I’m so blessed to have found this school and the community we belong to. I know how hard it is to create a kids birthday cake/cupcakes/cookies etc from scratch, and I’m so so so thankful that every birthday party we have been to has been inclusive for our daughter. When she can participate with the other kids and have the cake, it’s such a special treat.

Avoid the Birthday Party Blues by following my simple advice:

  1. Be upfront, tell the parents and the venue about the allergy
  2. Have the EPI-PEN at all times
  3. Have a cell phone ready + charged
  4. Prepare your child for the possibility of not being able to eat the food at the party
  5. Pack your own meal + birthday treat. We pack Chloe her own lunch/dinner with special birthday themed snack to eat while at the birthday party. I make cupcakes and freeze them in bulk, then thaw during the day of the party and frost with homemade buttercream frosting. It’s easy, looks like a birthday snack, and totally safe (Just incase the birthday cake is from a bakery, or the parents are not 100% sure).
  6. Stay at the party if you’re unsure of the handling of the allergy (I know the nutfree moms + dads very well at our school, and I trust them to use an epi-pen on my child in the event of an allergic reaction. If there are no nut-free families at a party, I’m a little more hesitant to leave my child alone at a party.)
  7. Breathe – it will be fine. Your should not live in fear because of a food allergy.



Weeknight Dinners

slow-cooker pulled pork sandwiches

2016 is a year of “yes, I can,” for me. When my daughter was diagnosed with her food allergies, I put up a wall, a barrier of, “I can’t” eat this type of food anymore. That was depressing. Thai peanut sauce is so yummy. And so are crunchy walnuts on a fresh pear and spinach salad. I’m challenging myself to think outside the box. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it takes creativity. I’m determined to show my family how delicious the world can be by making multi-cultural meal experiences by adapting recipes to fit our lifestyle.

Tonight. Wednesday in our house means fast dinner. Mom and Dad have to be on the couch by 8pm to watch Modern Family and Blackish. It’s a tradition.

The Slow-Cooker Pork

At 7am, I took a 3# boneless pork shoulder (pork butt at Hy-Vee) and cut into 2 inch cubes.

I placed the cubes into my crock pot with one onion cut in half, a few cloves of garlic, 1 cup of water and some salt and pepper. Cook on low, 7 hours.

After 7 hours, I used a slotted spoon to remove the meat, set aside. I used 1 cup of remaining liquid and poured into a small sauce pan to make my BBQ sauce.

  1. 1/2 C ketchup
  2. 2 TBSP spicy yellow mustard
  3. 2 TBSP packed brown sugar
  4. 1/4 c sliced pickles + 2 TSP brine
  5. 2 TSP hot sauce

Combine ingredients in sauce pan with liquid and simmer med-hi beat for 5 min. It will thicken.

Shred the pork with two forks in large bowl.

Toast up some fresh buns. Top with meat and  sauce.

Thai Soynut coleslaw

  1. 1/2 C soynut butter (I.M. Healthy)
  2. 2 TBSP packed brown sugar
  3. 1/2 C plain yogurt (chobani)
  4. 2 TBSP soy sauce
  5. 1/2 TSP ground ginger
  6. 1/2 TSP cumin
  7. 1/2 TSP cayenne
  8. Salt and pepper

Mix well over low heat in sauce pan. Combine with a bag of fresh Dole precut coleslaw. Use sparingly since the recipe makes a lot! I added 2 TBSP water to think it out. Soynut butter is a tad thicker.


Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized

Play date cookies


48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates in classic bag

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup soynut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup additional granulated sugar for rolling(optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and soynut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar, if desired; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.


Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized

Donuts at Home

Sunday is for Sweet Somethings… it’s donuts!

This recipe is adapted from

5 TBSP unsalted butter

1 egg beaten

1/2 cup sugar

1+1/2 cups flour

2 + 1/4 TSP baking powder

1/4 TSP salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup milk


Topping: 3 TBSP unsalted, melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 TSP cinnamon.

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat donut pan with cooking spray. Set aside

2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg together in large bowl. Add dry ingredients alternatively with wet ingredients.

4. Fill donut tins 3/4 full (I use piping bag). Bake for 15 minutes. Take out of oven and immediately swirl in butter and cinnamon and sugar mix.

Yield 6 or so donuts. Enjoy!!20160221_090536




Crunchy Chocolate Granola Bars

Because so many granola bars are made in a facility with nuts, we make our own. They’re easy and so delish.

Chocolate Chip Soy Nut Granola Bars


  • 1/2 Cup Soy Nut Butter (I prefer I’m Healthy brand)
  • 1/3 Cup local honey
  • 1/4 Cup coconut oil
  • 1+1/2 Cups old fashioned oats (Hy-Vee Brand is my go-to)
  • 1 + 1/2 TBSP wheat germ
  • 1/2 Cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips (this is where you need to watch labels. I use Guittard or Enjoy Life brands.)


  1. Line an 8X8 glass or metal pan with foil. Non-stick spray is not needed.
  2. Melt soynut butter, honey and coconut oil together in a sauce pan over low or medium heat. Stir constantly.
  3. In medium mixing bowl, combine other ingredients, except chocolate chips.
  4. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix. stir well.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes + press down into your prepped pan.
  6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the mixture and press them down firmly into the bars.
  7. Place the pan in the fridge or freezer to set.
  8. Flip the foil on to a cutting board. With a very sharp knife (I prefer my shun 6 inch santoku) cut into rectangles.
  9. I usually use one snack size bag per bar and store them in the fridge. They will not keep if you do not keep them refrigerated. Storing them for a day in a school lunch is fine.

Fun extras: mini marshmallows, raisins, sunflower seeds, chocolate skippers, banana chips, home-made dried fruits, sun butter


*The original recipe is from and modified by me