Holiday Favorites, School Safe List

Halloween Treats

This list may come in handy if your kids go to a nut-free school, or have allergy recommendations in place for snack time / holidays.

Also, this might be helpful if you have a co-worker who is allergic to nuts.

Or maybe you’ve decided to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year for having allergy friendly / non-candy treats to pass out at your door! Please note that the Teal Pumpkin Project is 100% allergy free snacks. For these snacks, please use the Snack Safe Guide to ensure your treats are free of the Top 8 allergens. OR, 1-click shop Amazon Prime for easy Halloween treats; I purchased this: Bulk Halloween


Nut-Free Snacks

  1. Walgreens
    • Rice Krispie Treats
    • Kathy Kaye Foods popcorn balls and mini caramel corn bags (shown above, approved by my daughter)
    • Hostess Cupcakes
    • Hostess Donettes
    • Twizzlers
    • Sweedish Fish
    • Nerds
    • Starbursts
    • Sweet Tarts
    • Red Vines
    • Tootsie Roll
    • Dots
    • Brother’s All Natural Freeze Dried Disney Fruit Crisps
  2. HyVee
    • CocoLoco Bars in the Health Market
    • Enjoy Life Brand Cookies, assorted flavors
    • Ritz Crackers
    • Goldfish Crackers
    • Sun Chips
    • Cheese-Its
    • Wheat Thins
    • Oreos
    • Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • Honey Maid Graham Crackers
    • Fruit By the Food
    • Pretzel Crisps (not the chocolate flavor)
    • Sabra Brand Hummus
    • Skinny Pop
    • Boom Chicka Pop
    • Pirates Booty
    • Curious George Fruit Snacks
    • Annie’s Fruit Snacks
    • Annies cheddar bunnies
    • Nutri Grain Bars
    • Kraft Marshmallows
    • Pop Rocks
    • Now and Laters
    • Dum dum lollipops
    • Sour Patch Kids
    • Gummy Life Savers
    • Bottle Caps
    • York Peppermint Patties
    • Enjoy life Brand mini chocolates – health market
  3. Costco
  4. Pick n Save / Metro Market
  5. Target

Please check back, there’s lots more to come!

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.

Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized

Easter Sunday Menu

This weekend we are prepping for our big Eater Party next weekend with family! How exciting. The kids are super into it too – Chloe is making center pieces out of peeps and daisies, Carter is working on decorating a cake with chocolate eggs. LOVE it. For the food – keeping it classic and simple. Here’s the menu with links for recipes.

Easter Sunday Brunch:

  • Slow cooker cheesy breakfast potatoes – Breakfast Potatoes
  • Valentine Coffee – Valentine
  • Giada homemade biscotti (making this 1 week in advance, store in air-tight container) – Giada’s Biscotti
  • Fruit salad (whatever you have + 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, salt, pepper and dash of vanilla, stir stir stir.) – Fruit Salad from Summer

 

Easter Sunday Early Dinner:

Dinner Prep tips:

  1. The kitchen is a common place for EVERYONE to hang. Make sure you have some things in mind for those that ask “what can I help you with ” – You know it’s coming! 🙂
  2. Prepare as much the week before as possible
    1. Decide on where people will eat
    2. menu
    3. grocery deliver, if available
    4. meal prep + grocery lists
    5. what dishes others will bring
    6. drinks! – I like having a “signature drink” for each holiday
    7. Set aside the plates, cups, napkins, serving platters, serving utensils (the more you have done early, the less run around on Easter Sunday!)
    8. Decide if you’re using linens and if they need to be ironed. If so, get this done asap, or send them out. This takes a lot of time (I waited one year) and you don’t want to be starching and ironing the night before Easter when the bunny is supposed to be hiding things!
    9. You are not an octopus, so make sure the things you’re making on Easter Sunday either have a kitchen helper, or use multiple cooking/baking methods.
      1. I’m using a crock pot
      2. Double oven
      3. And baking the night before
    10. Have your menu TIMED OUT. In other words, you don’t want the food to finish cooking at different times. This can be tricky if you’re making an entire menu for the first time. Run thru it in your head.
    11. Always have a back up plan. I like to keep canned or frozen items in my house for easy access. I know that if I mess up my scalloped potatoes, I can easily pull out some frozen potatoes o’brien and bake them at 350 for 45 minutes with a cup of cheese and campbells soup to make a cheesy baked potato dish. Also, I can roast just about any vegetable in 40 minutes and it will replace anything that I mess up. Be open minded. Be flexible. Nothing is perfect.
    12. I keep extra no-bake desserts in the house too. Just in case I don’t have time to make my cupcakes, we still have something sweet and special to enjoy on Easter.
    13. The most important part of this meal is TOGETHERNESS. Don’t forget that. If someone asks to help say yes. You don’t have to do it all. And some of the greatest memories come from some of the biggest kitchen screw ups…with family!
    14. Whatever you don’t finish, nobody else will know.
    15. Cheers! Don’t forget to have a splash of your favorite beverage + treat yourself for this amazing meal!
    16. SMILE! Nobody likes a grumpy cook in the kitchen.

We are off to get a few things: new table cloth, material for a grey chevron table runner, and other layering items for a spring like tablescape. I can’t let my family down on this – they LOVE a good tablescape. And so do I. Have a fantastic spring break week – I know you LOVE when I blog about our family vacations, so I’ll be posting some nut-free finds on our trip this week. Enjoy the season!

Thanks for stopping by! Please post what YOU make – I LOVE hearing from readers.

Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized

Carrot Cake Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting

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I cheated tonight. On my cupcakes. Usually for Easter I make homemade carrot cake batter with shredded carrot – and tonight, I’m just tired. I picked up a few Betty Crocker Carrot Cake mixes for “stand by” in case I did not have time to do the whole big thing. Turns out my plan B saved me today! Honestly though, I’ve had a lot of carrot cake, and this mix is a very good stand by. Tastes homemade! So there’s the scoop on the mix – a picture of the box is in my previous Easter blog post if you’re interested.

The packaging is kind of deceiving since I’m a nut-free blogger and the box has a picture of carrot cake with pecans in the background of the cake. I’ve checked a million times, and there are no nuts inside this box mix. I even had Chloe do a skin test, then a sample by mouth with stand-by benadryl and epi-pen, and she was totally fine. There are no nuts in this mix. The pecans on the box, I’m guessing, are just because carrot cake usually does have some type of nut in it. Just not this one. I actually prefer it this way, no nuts. I don’t like being interrupted by crunchy nuts while I’m eating a delicious cake by a nut. the texture is wrong to me. But some people love them. Thus is true about life. Not being interrupted by nuts. But nuts do keep things interesting.

The frosting is super simple.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temp.
  • 8oz room temp cream cheese
  • 4.5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Beat on medium high speed in electric mixer the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the remaining ingredients. This recipe usually only calls for 4 cups confectioners sugar, but I wanted to pipe and the frosting needed to be thicker.

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Some more amazon treats came today! Nut-free suckers and my pinata! Shaping up to be a super fun week with the kiddos.

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Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

‘Twas the week before Spring Break!

…and we’ve totally got this! Most important news first: Did you catch last nights final episode of Big Little Lies?!  I don’t want to give it away, but it was AMAZING! This series was by far my most favorite TV series to date. The entire cast did a wonderful job – the chemistry was remarkable. The final scene was very touching – a bond between girl friends and the support they give, just really hit home. Loved it.

I’m a day late on posting this weeks menu since we were very busy having FUN this past weekend. We had a sitter for Saturday to attend my little man’s Fundraising Gala. What a fun event! The silent auction was really well organized and the entire feel of the event was very relaxed and fun. The bar was amazing and the views were spectacular.

Last night was another big night (two in a row! WOOT WOOT!) – we had some friends over for BBQ dinner that the hubs made in his new sous vide.  It turned out really well – and my good friend announced her engagement to her longtime boyfriend!!!!  So so so happy for them. Just when I thought the “wedding season” of my life was winding down, (which I was kind of sad about, actually) they came through with this announcement. LOVE IT! Couldn’t be happier for this lovely couple 🙂

This week is the week before spring break – and you know it will be busy. With the kids off of school for 10 days, there is a lot to get done before then and plan! If you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail!

Menu for this week looks like this:

Monday – Pork sandwiches + leftover beans and coleslaw from last night

Tuesday – Modern Table Meal with fresh mushrooms and broccoli (found this at Target in the Mac n Cheese aisle). It’s also Non-GMO and Gluten Free! Score!20170403_131312

Wednesday – Campbell’s Sauce Starter for oven roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables (probably carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers)

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Thursday – Chickpea curry (blogged about this recipe last week, can’t wait to have it again!) with nut-free naan and jasmine rice. The Naan is from Target as well located in the fresh bakery section.

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Friday – Edamame, Whole Foods Fish Sticks, Tater Tots (three sheet pans, no clean up).

Saturday – Large pot of soup + salad. I love Kitchen Basics since I can find it everywhere and also get no or low sodium. The control freak that I am, I like to be the one in control of how much salt is going into my soup.

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Sunday – Chicken Enchiladas + Spanish rice, carrot cake cupcakes for Chloe’s Easter play date with friends. I’ll post more about the cupcakes later, the accessories are from Sur La Table. although most stores are already sold out of Easter things, I guess I’m just not one to buy Easter things at Valentines Day. Our “buy it early” retail culture in America is exhausting.

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That’s all for now! I’m off to get my chores done and make round #2 of school pick-up! Have a great week! Stay tuned for sneak peeks of Easter prep!

Holiday Favorites, School Safe List, Snacking

Grocery store nut-free cookies!

It fills me with utter GLEE when I stumble upon new nut-free items at the grocery store! Lofthouse Bakery makes sweet treats in a nut-free facility. The two we decided to try for Easter are sugar cookies with sprinkles and chocolate layer, and lemon meltaway cookies. 

These sweet treats are so good and I actually prefer the lemon cookies. They melt in your mouth and have a very distinct 🍋 flavor. So if you’re out and about looking for a “safe sharing snack” for school church, or play group, or just a desert among friends, Lofthouse Bakery is 100% nut-free!
Lofthouse Bakery items can be found at Target and Metcalfes Sentry. 

Happy spring!

Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized

Mint Chocolate St. Pats Cupcakes!

Usually for St. Patrick’s Day, I make my all-time favorite recipe, Guinness chocolate chip cupcakes with a chocolate ganashe. The only problem is that I don’t like to serve these to the kids, for the obvious reason (even though the alcohol is baked off, it just sounds bad, right!?)

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On St.Pats this year, I did the traditional big dinner; braised corned beef, cabbage with balsamic reduction, roasted carrots and potatoes. For dessert, I waited 3 days before FINALLY getting to it, (hey, I was busy with my daughters fundraiser) chocolate cupcakes with buttercream mint frosting.

The dinner turned out great, and I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe from FoodNetwork. It was pretty easy and the oven did most of the work. The cupcakes were delish and simple, and definitely will keep them on the menu for next year. I’m so grateful for tradition and our friends that we celebrate St.Pats with each and every year. The kids LOVE tradition and look forward to it. It’s always a fun time and watching the kids grow together over the years brings me so much joy.

For the cupcakes, prepare a box mix of Betty Crocker Devils Food Chocolate cake mix as directed.

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Frosting Ingredients:

  • Two sticks of butter, room temp
  • 6 cups of  powdered sugar
  • 4 TBSP milk
  • 1 tsp mint extract
  • 6 drops green food coloring
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, mix the two sticks of butter very well on medium speed.
  2. Once the butter is smooth, add the powdered sugar, mix slowly then turn up the speed.
  3. Add the milk, mint, food coloring and salt.
  4. Do check the labels of your food coloring – I know it sounds silly, but WILTON brand is NOT safe food coloring for nut-allergic people. It’s made in a facility with tree-nuts and peanuts. We use McCormick brand
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix some more until everything is combined very well.
  6. Sample it and adjust as needed.

I promised I would talk about piping here, too. So this is for you Jill 🙂

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How to Pipe your frosting:

  1. Find a large plastic cup and put your piping bag inside the cup, with the piping tip already in.
  2. Fold the sides of the piping bag over the outside of the cup.
  3. Add your frosting to the piping bag
  4. Once the piping bag is full, take the bag out of the cup and twist the top
  5. on a plate, test out your piping, get the air bubbles out.
  6. Now you’re ready to pipe your frosting!

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