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.

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.

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.

 

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!

 

 

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!

Allergy Free Popsicles!

As I was scouring the shelves at the newly renovated Pick N Save on Fish Hatch, I came across these popsicles in the freezer section.

I’m very cautious about ice cream and popsicles since we had an anaphylactic reaction to Chocolate pudding pops last May. The popsicle was made in a facility where nuts were also processed, and that information was NOT on the box.

These popsicles, their formal name is “Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit” are wonderful. They are non-dairy, GF, vegan, kosher and non-GMO. While the box does not say anything about nuts, they are nut-free. Originally I bought them as a joke, since my daughter’s name is Chloe as well. Turns out, they are amazing and contain three simple ingredients.

  1. Dark Chocolate Puree (🍌 banana, cocoa with alkali, natural cocoa)
  2. Water
  3. Organic cane sugar

Super simple. Very fast, no weird funkiness. love them!!

Cross-Contact vs. Cross-Contamination

Uggg. I wish I could turn this side of my brain off, but I can’t. These two terms have been spinning in my head for the better part of this week now. I have wanted so badly to define them and talk about them, and it seems like this is the best place for that. So, cozy up. Here’s what’s on my mind. What a sexy Saturday night this is! Atleast HBO is on. And I have ice cream. mmmmmm.

What is cross-contact?

Cross-contact happens when one food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix. As a result, each food then contains small amounts of the other food. These amounts are so small that they usually can’t be seen. Even this tiny amount of food protein has caused reactions in people with food allergies! The term “cross-contact” is fairly new. Some people may call this “cross-contamination.”

Types of cross-contact:

Direct: Allergen was applied then removed.

  • Peeling cheese off a cheeseburger to make it a hamburger
  • Removing shrimp from a salad
  • Scraping peanut butter off a piece of bread and using it to make a different sandwich

Indirect: Cross-Contact (allergen was not directly applied)

  • Using the same spatula that flipped a cheeseburger to flip a hamburger
  •  Not washing hands after handling shrimp before making the next salad
  •  Wiping off—not properly cleaning—a knife used to spread peanut butter before using it to spread jelly

Why don’t we use the term cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination usually refers to bacteria or viruses that get on food and make it unsafe to eat. In cross-contamination, cooking the food will lower the chance of a person getting sick. This is not the same with food allergies and cross-contact. Cooking does not remove an allergen from a food! The only way to stop you from having a reaction is to avoid the food and carefully clean anything that came in contact with it using soap and water.

How to stop cross-contact?

  1. Your cutting boards + never use a wooden cutting board
  2. Wash your hands, especially if recently handling the allergen
  3. Wash your sink out
    1. (SPLASH ZONES!!! – if you have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then wash the peanut butter knife in your sink, your sink now contains peanut protein. If you’re thinking about serving fresh fruit for snack time to share, and rinse your fruit in this sink, your fruit has now been exposed to the peanut protein unless you wash your sink out first. Everything must be sanitized after the allergen has been present.
    2. Clean all surfaces + cooking utensils

How to clean:

Use hot, soapy water with a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe kitchen surfaces and counters. Wash cloths used for cleaning in the hot cycle of your washing machine often (when was the last time you did that?). You can sanitize sponges with a quick zap in the microwave or dishwasher, but you should still replace them often since they harbor bacteria.

Also, scrub down counters and dishes every time you prep a food and before moving on to the next item. One high-power solution is a mix of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Use that to sanitize surfaces and utensils.

—-all of this information is from the CDC + Foodnetwork.com + FoodAllergy.com (FARE)

So, as you can see, it’s pretty easy for cross contact to happen. There are many places for this to occur. This is why we have to be vigilant and why us allergy parents can seem crazy when we’re figuring out what to serve our kids!

Whew. Well, glad that’s unloaded and off my brain. Time to go snuggle my little bunny. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have something less serious and more delicious to write about.