Holiday Favorites, Snacking, Uncategorized

NYT Rhubarb Crisp

My sweet sweet neighbor Maryellen gave me a TON of fresh rhubarb last week. We love rhubarb season. Today’s cookout was the perfect opportunity to debut this New York Times Rhubarb Crisp recipe.

(I LOVE the New York Times recipes, they ALWAYS are fabulous. And I love reading the paper. A dead medium, I know. But it’s relaxing to me).

Usually during this time of year we make rhubarb cake, but I wanted something a little lighter, faster and less cakey. Needless to say, this crisp was a crowd pleaser. My only regret is that I didn’t make a double batch to share with more friends! This dish is a 9 x 9 and if you dish out dessert like I do, it will only have 9 servings 🙂

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What made this recipe even better was that I made it with my sweet daughter. She’s a smart cookie in the kitchen and very helpful. She prepped the 9 x 9 pan, and got all of the ingredients ready on the counter top while I chopped 6 cups of rhubarb.

We had fun and dessert is that much sweeter when it’s made with love.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, tough strings removed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup rolled oats (Quaker Oats)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking or gratin dish with a little butter. Toss rhubarb with white sugar, orange or lemon juice and zest, and spread in baking dish.
  2. Put the 6 tablespoons butter in a food processor along with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, and pulse for about 20 or 30 seconds, until it looks like small peas and just begins to clump together. Add oats and pecans and pulse just a few times to combine.
  3. Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

*a quick short cut if you do not want to get out your big food processor (ours is 12 cup and mammoth, then cleaning it, don’t even get me started) I used my nutribullet smoothie maker to blend up the dry ingredients. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just a few zaps. I added the oats and mixed in by hand, then dumped the entire container into my recipe.

Serve with ice cream, whip topping, yogurt, mint, or as is.

I hope you enjoy this fun, sweet, tart recipe as much as we did.

Snacking, Uncategorized

Blueberry Breakfast Muffins

One of my kids is staring at the back of my head from the top of our stairs as I type this, and I refuse to turn around to see what they need….it’s been a looooong weekend, a preview of what summer will be like, perhaps, and I’m just a wee bit annoyed. I need some down time. A mommy break here. I’m blogging, something I enjoy, for me.  And I need it. I need to take time for me to be a better person to help you. You being kids. It’s a cycle.

Anyway, typing. Typing. Typing.

Blueberry Oat Flax Seed Breakfast Muffins…MMMMMMMMMMMM.

We had a huge container of blueberries leftover from the week. Not wanting them to go to waste, I made my all-time favorite blueberry breakfast muffins. They’re easy and we usually have all the ingredients on hand.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (80 g) old fashioned rolled oats (Quaker Oats have been nut-free)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed (check the packaging for allergy information)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (225 g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup (140 g) blueberries, frozen or fresh

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Toss the blueberries with 1 tbsp flour and set aside
  3. Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, flax, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine the yogurt, applesauce, egg, vanilla and brown sugar.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into dry and mix well.
  6. Fold in blueberries
  7. Grease a 12-count muffin pan with pam spray or use muffin holders. Fill 3/4 full of batter. Sprinkle extra oats on top if desired.
  8. place in the oven 18-20 minutes.

 

These muffins are very satisfying and I enjoyed mine with a hot cup of Valentine coffee for breakfast today. Enjoy! I would refrigerate these if you don’t plan on using them the same day. Blueberry can go bad quickly.

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Nut-free Ice Cream + 1 Year Anniversary of Anaphylactic Episode

Well duh, most ice creams without nuts are nut-free, right?

Wrong.

If you have looked at the ingredient label of your ice cream lately, you’ve probably noticed a change in the label. All labels have to clearly state if an allergen is present. The top 8 allergens are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

There are MANY other allergies besides these, but these are the most common. What manufacturers do NOT HAVE TO STATE is whether or not the facility in which the ice cream is made contains nuts. This is a big deal for anyone who is very sensitive to allergens, like peanut dust, that may come into contact with an otherwise safe product.

Today is our ONE YEAR ANAPHYLACTIC EPISODE ANNIVERSARY with my daughter. Last May 19, she ate a Roundy’s Brand Fudge Popsicle that sent her to the ER after EPI-PEN was administered by her school principal. The packaging on the Popsicle did not disclose any allergy information, and I was not made aware that this Popsicle was going to be given out at school. However, when I called the Roundy’s facility, the manufacturer stated that the facility the Popsicles were made in also processed peanuts and tree nuts. This is how cross contact can happen, at the facility, not necessarily IN the product directly, but around it, then on to it.

Because manufacturers do not have to disclose facility information (although more and more are doing this due to the sheer volume of phone calls of nut-allergic kids and worried moms and dads) it is up to the consumer to find out how safe a product actually is.

I learned a lot about ice cream today.  Ice cream is tricky.

Many manufacturers make many different types of ice cream from Butter Pecan, Caramel Cashew, plain Vanilla and delicious Chocolate. It is up to the manufacturer to clean, sanitize and properly flush all the ice cream making lines before making the next flavor. However, it’s difficult to clearly state that the lines are 100% free of certain allergens, so makers of Blue Bunny, Hy-Vee, Sam’s Club, etc are not able to ensure that their products are safe for people with allergies. The difference in these manufacturers though is that Blue Bunny CLEARLY STATES information about their facility and manufacturing process, whereas the others DO NOT state this information.

After my daughter’s teacher asked me about Hy-Vee brand ice cream today, I approved it after reading the label. The label said “Contains: Milk” and I automatically assumed that it was safe for my daughters ice cream party.

While I was driving my son to school, I decided to call Hy-Vee because we rarely have ice cream and Hy-Vee answers my questions so very quickly. While I was on the phone, the woman told me that anything made by Hy-Vee has the potential risk of cross contact due to the facility that it’s made in; it’s made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. My heart sank. I’m driving and trying not to panic.

I call the school and get the message to her teacher asap.

At this point, I’m having Dejavu. But I’m prepared and so is her school. Deep breaths.

After dropping my son off at school, I decide to head over to Hy-Vee to see what kind of allergy free ice cream I can find.

Hy-Vee was over the top helpful. I had not 1, not 2, but 3 people helping me in the frozen food section trying to find a safe, nut-free ice cream for my daughter. All three guys had their phones out researching safe ice creams, manufacturers and calling around trying to find one that would be acceptable.

My heart was overflowing with gratitude.

We decided to try Breyer’s Ice Cream and we finally find a winner. Not only did they disclose all the allergy information, they have a designated allergy line to call for more information. After hearing that and then calling customer service to confirm, I know that Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream is made in a nut free, gluten free facility and only contains the allergen: milk. Breyers will be my go-to ice cream this summer. Luckily, we dont eat much ice cream, just popsicles.

Have a great weekend – I am grateful for all the help I received today and will be even better when I pick my little lady up from school today to celebrate 1 year of epi-pen free. I’m thinking tonight will be a movie and popcorn type of Friday. Thank goodness.

Hugs to you and yours.

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Chipotle Chicken Bowls

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The end of the school year is quickly approaching and I feel like my organizational skills are in a downward spiral. Food menu planning is sporadic at best, our calendars are jammed full of activities, get-togethers, parties, volunteer activities, the list goes on. All fun stuff, just a lot all at once.

This week my body has been mad at me for having so much going on – and I could tell. I’ve had a dull headache for two days that turned into a full blown migraine late last night that kept me awake until 3am.  I haven’t been eating right, I’ve been working out too hard, too fast, and not re-fueling enough with the RIGHT FOOD.

There are no short cuts in life.

Today I took 6 hours to do nothing. Not a single thing. I couldn’t. If you’ve ever had a migraine you know how debilitating they are. Light sensitivity, nausea and throbbing neck and head kept me down for the count. Luckily, I have a very loving son with wonderful bedside manner helping me, and offering me little snacks and snuggles all day long. He is wonderful.

So this week, to get back on track, I made this amazing little meal that’s a total Chipotle knock-off. I found it from another blogger, Damn Delicious, and tweaked a bit to fit my family. Hope you love it too – we had 4 clean plates, and I’m pretty proud of that!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tbsp for sauce
  • 1 pound boneless/skinless organic chicken, cubed small
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.25-ounces) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo or 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 4 scallions to garnish each plate
  • Black olives (kids love em)

Chipotle Cream Sauce (for the grown-ups, it has a kick!)

  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions

  1. To make the chipotle cream sauce, blend together Greek yogurt, chipotle pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper, drizzle of olive oil, and lime juice; set aside. (I used my nutribullet or smoothie blender to get a nice puree)
  2. In a non-stick sauce pan, make the rice according to the directions on the package. I like jasmine rice, so I needed to account for the 15 minutes it takes to simmer.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan with high sides. Add chicken cubes and chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, onion powder and paprika; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Cook until chicken has browned, about 5 minutes. If starting to stick, add a 1/4 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock.
  5. Divide rice into plates and top with seasoned chicken, beans, corn and tomatoes. Drizzle with chipotle cream sauce, if desired.

Yield: 5

Mom Things, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

Two Nutty Moms

What do two nut-free Mom’s do on their night out together?

We eat whatever the hell we want.

Seriously.

A good friend of mine shares the same food restrictions that I do when it comes to feeding kiddos. No nuts allowed!

Her son has nut allergies too, so we lean on each other for support and ideas all things food and holiday related; and life in general, too. We have a lot in common, conversation and humor come easy.

That being said, we had a ball last night on our “girls night out” together. We enjoyed pedicures, dumplings (not a “safe place to eat”), specialty chocolates (also, never safe), and lots of shopping. Ironically, the stores all closed at 9pm, and we ended up at the far end of this mall inside a grocery store. I thought I was just going to pick up some produce for the weekend, when the two of us started reading labels and researching companies on our phones to determine what baked goods were safe. We ended up finding some great new items to share with our kids. Too funny. Mom’s at work, gotta read those labels, find safe snacks. Actually, easier to do when we don’t have our kids at the store with us. These items were found at Metcalfe’s Sentry

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If you’re at the grocery store and want a quick baked treat for your child’s class or next get-together, look for Lofthouse Bakery and Clyde’s Donuts.

I’m grateful for these companies that CLEARLY state that these products are made in a dedicated nut-free facility. Not peanuts, no tree-nuts.  Not everything that Lofthouse Bakery makes is nut-free, so be sure to check the label. The nut-free label is red and says it right above their logo, you can’t miss it.

Both items have been tested and approved by my loving 3 and 6 year olds. I also have to say that both items taste amazing. Donuts have been on our list for a while now, we cannot have them anywhere – they all “may contain nuts” – so when my friend texted me a photo of the label from Woodman’s (grocery store) last week, I was excited! We are so pumped to have these on Sunday with our breakfast and coffee.

I’m so grateful for my friend who has supported our family through so much. She truly understands the ups and downs of the nut-free lifestyle. She’s an amazing Mother, wife, friend, and listener. She gives freely of her time to others for good causes and bakes up a storm to ensure everyone can enjoy safe, nut-free treats at school, home and work. I’m so happy to call her my friend. I would be lost in this nutty world without her.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms! Enjoy this beautiful weekend!

 

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Comfort Food for a Full Moon

When you work in healthcare, you know that a full moon is like Friday the 13th. The crazy come out of the woodwork. So what better to have for dinner, after a super long day, than a comforting meal of homemade meatloaf, sauteed parmesan zucchini and creamy mashed potatoes?! Nothing. There is nothing better. This is the kind of heavy meal that fills in all the cracks and does not need dessert to follow. Everyone cleared their plates, Carter had 3rds, and there are zero left overs. I have meat and potatoes kinds of kids.

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Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound grass fed organic beef
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered garlic
  • 1 palm full of Mrs.Dash Italian seasoning
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered onion
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 shakes of worchestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 handful of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.
  2. Pam spray your loaf pan and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together, except beef.
  4. Once you have everything mixed up, add the beef and mix well with your hands.
  5. Once combined add it to the loaf pan and flatten out. Bake for 45 minutes, turn the oven up to 350 and cook for 15 more minutes, if you’d like a crunchy crust.
  6. Optional: Slice your loaf and lay in a 13 x 9 pan, drizzle ketchup over the slices and place under your boiler for 3 minutes. Who doesn’t love a crunchy crust on the edge of their meatloaf?

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Zucchini

Ingredients

  • three medium zucchini
  • evoo
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pan with high sides, add evoo and swirl to coat.
  2. Add the zucchini and sprinkle in remaining ingredients.
  3. Stir stir stir
  4. I like to keep the heat on medium-high
  5. keep stirring, about 10 minutes, zucchini should be soft
  6. Zucchini should start to stick to the pan, add the stock to deglaze the pan.
  7. Add more parmesan if desired

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Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Peel the two potatoes and quarter them
  3. Add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender
  4. Drain the water from the pot
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and mash with hand masher until light and fluffy.

Have a great Mother’s Day, MOMS!

Birthday Parties, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

May the 4th Be With You!

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Star Wars day was awesome. My kids are really into Star Wars right now, as is the hubs, so when we we were menu planning on Sunday, the kids REALLY wanted to do something fun for May 4th.

(Side bar: I’m drinking Valentine Coffee right now with 1 tsp of Nestle Quick Bunny Chocolate powder, and it’s amaze. You should try it. Seriously. 20 calories, but it has vitamins and tastes like a skinny mocha from Starbucks. No lie.)

Star Wars Day is also my mother-in-laws birthday! So we celebrated big time! Here is the menu:

May the 4th Menu

  • Obe-Wan Kebabies: skewered watermelon balls, strawberries, blackberries and grapes
  • Darth Vader Taters: made Oreida tater tots
  • Han-Burgers: patted out eight burger patties using grass fed organic beef from Madison
  • BB-8 Cake: Betty Crocker cake mix with homemade butter cream frosting. Safe, nut-free, black icing can be found at Target, Wilton Brand. Be careful with Wilton brand. They make a lot of cake decor and MOST of it is made in a facility with nuts. I really lucked out this time. Usually, I cannot buy their stuff. For the shape of the cake, I just used one 9 inch spring form cake pan and one 4 inch spring form cake pan. With each of them, make sure they cool completely, and use a serrated knife to take off the “dome” layer and even it out. With the 4 inch cake, trim the top accordingly and then cut about 1/4 off the bottom of the cake.
  • Luke Sky Water: Just water. Nothing special.
  • At the last minute, we found some Star Wars dinner plates, cake plates and napkins at Target in the kids party section. Also found some cardboard masks with all the popular characters. Except Rey. Seriously? I have so many feels about this topic, but that’s not for this blog post.

Until next time, May the Force Be With You! Thanks for stopping by…