Snacking, Travel, Weeknight Dinners

Buzzy’s Lake House Food Truck

Hold the phone.

Nut allergy friends REJOICE! Your food truck woes are OVER.

Yesterday my little buddy and I (still on house arrest – kind of sick, but not really, check out my IG for more info on this) were hanging out on the square in downtown Madison when we decided to check out a local food truck, Buzzy’s Lake House via my Instagram feed.

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Buzzy’s was parked on the corner of Wisconsin + Mifflin, which was uber convenient since we were at the toy store one block away. Capitol Kids is probably one of my favorite stores for kiddo swag in all of Madison. They have the most unique gifts, and hard to find items, too. But on this particular chill day, we were just playing with choo choos and enjoying the sunshine!

Buzzy’s is AMAZING. As a foodie, this is the BEST food truck food I have EVER had (and my super foodie husband agrees, so you know it’s good.)

The issue we have with many food trucks, and restaurants in general, is that they cannot guarantee that cross contact with nuts does not happen in their kitchens, so we cannot eat there. For example, we cannot eat at Melt, that yummy food truck that ONLY sells delish grilled cheese sandwiches because their bread is made in a bakery that handles nuts. Frown face.

Buzzy’s owner + culinary trained, professional chef, Cyndi, told us the food that she makes (excluding the sweets + cookies) are nut-free. Happy dance! And I trust her 100%.

So what kind of food is it? It’s your favorites, all of them.

  1. Main Dishes
    1. Bobber Chicken
    2. Sunset Chicken
    3. Dockside Chicken Chili
    4. Wavey Turkey Meatballs
    5. Firepit Curry – YOU JUST NEED TO EAT THIS
    6. Pontoon Pulled Pork Sandwich
  2. Sides
    1. Jasmine Brown Rice
    2. Smashed Cheddar Baked Potatoes
    3. Baked Beans
    4. Side Salads
    5. Homemade cookies + assorted beverages

I had the featured item, pictured on IG, and that’s what drew me in:

Chicken Chili Bowl over rice with cheddar, sour cream and scallions.

***sorry, no pic, I woofed it down too fast***

IT WAS AMAZING. And FLAVORFUL. And HUGE. If you’re ravenous hungry, come here. If you’re coming along with kids, one main dish could feed two littles. The key here is that Cyndi is a professional chef. Her flavor profiles are spot on with everything she makes (we started visiting this food truck last April after Theater Class on State during Farmers Market – her breakfast is also amaze.)  You’re going to get a great meal, no matter what you pick. It’s alllllll good.

So, if you’re downtown walking the farmers market, having a meeting, strolling state street, visiting the capitol, or looking for a really yummy, quick and delish lunch, check out Buzzy’s Lake House. You won’t regret it.

Buzzy’s Lake House

@buzzyslakehouse

Cheers to the weekend friends! Thanks for stopping by! Lots to write – I hope I have some more time this weekend to still tell you about Dr. Pain’s Pain-free French Toast Recipe! Its so good.

 

Weeknight Dinners

Lighter Pulled BBQ Pork

So I’m a sucker for easy, crock-pot, nut-free weeknight meals. And I seem to be stuck in a BBQ pork rut. OK, not stuck. If you know me well, you know that I LOVE a good pork sandwich and so do the kids.

I’ve tried many different recipes and the first was actually quite hilarious, circa 2007 for a girls night at our downtown condo. The pork turned out to be a dried out mess and we ended up ordering pizza after a long day of work. Ten years later, I think I’ve got a better recipe down, and actually less ingredients is better.

This recipe is a lot lighter than my stand by Campbell’s Soup pre-mix packet. It has less calories, salt and sugar. And it is just as easy and flavorful. If you like things more savory than sweet, this recipe is definitely for you!

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The recipe I used is the top one, slightly modified:

  • 4 pound pork shoulder
  • McCormick Season Packet
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 of a lemon juice = about 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp white wine, Kim Crawford

For sides, we had baked beans and steamed some broccoli and seasons with Penzeys 4S season salt and butter.

I’ll post the apple pie recipe next….

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Hope you’re having a great week!

Weeknight Dinners

Cheesy Chicken Fajitas

Monday Hustle was fierce today!  After a really nice weekend, it was great to get back into our routine today, meal time being part of it.

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If your kids are choosy eaters, this may be a good transition recipe to try. It has many favorite ingredients found in Mexican food that almost all kiddos love. Just changing the flavor a bit, or adding/subtracting favorite ingredients may help your littles become more diverse eaters. Don’t give up, it’s a process. Modifying their favorite meals is one way to get their taste buds to open up a bit.

This weeks menu is posted to my IG, thanks to Cooking Light Magazine.

Yesterday I found an old Cooking Light Magazine in my pantry. I like to keep old magazines because our taste changes, things we like vary and I need some quick inspiration sometimes without turning on a device. Ugg. Looking at a screen or scrolling my phone is the LAST thing I want to do most days. Old magazines are nice. I keep them organized by month (or at least I’m going to tell you that :)) in magazine holders inside our walk-in pantry on the bottom shelf. The kids can reach them, too, which is OK. This recipe is two of my favorite things, fast and easy.

Since this was the first time I made the recipe, I was surprised with how quickly it came together. I’ll post the recipe, then tell you what I’d do differently to make it even faster.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp evoo
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup canned corn (I used the whole can because that other half will just sit in my fridge)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted canned pinto beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I used one large garden tomato and diced it)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz of rotisserie chicken
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese
  • corn tortillas
  • sour cream
  • avocado

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high
  2. Heat oil in ovenproof skillet over medium – high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, salt, and pepper to pan. Saute 3 minutes or until crisp tender (more like 5 min).
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, stock and juice. Cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken, sprinkle evenly with cheese (I used the whole bag because hey, this is Wisconsin. and I’m preventing osteoporosis.)
  4. Place pan in oven and broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
  5. Heat tortilals in microwave for 1 minute.
  6. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with avocado, sour cream and whatever else you have, like UMMM BACON. Or anything that will add some flavor.

So my biggest concern with this recipe was flavor. It doesn’t call for herbs, dry spices or flavor mixes that would add significant depth. I followed the recipe to a T and recommend the following:

  1. Add 1 tbsp garlic powder
  2. Add 1 tbsp onion powder
  3. Add 1 tbsp oregano, dried
  4. Have a Lawrys fajita season packet on standby, just in case you don’t like the flavor
  5. Hot sauce
  6. Do not add the chicken stock – I saw no reason to add this, it made the entire dish soupy and never thickened up.
  7. Do not use your broiler. I was literally waiting for magic to happen. Nothing happened. The cheese melted. Big deal, you can do that on a regular burger with a thing called a LID.
  8. Instead of cast iron skillet / oven proof pan, just use a regular large frying pan, a really big one. This recipe makes a LOT of food, yield of 8 at least. My teeny little cast iron skillet was very crowded and it affected my saute timing.
  9. Saute the crap out of your vegetables + pepper. You want some flavor form them, get some markings on them from your pan.
  10. Only use the chicken stock if you need to deglaze your frying pan. Otherwise, do not add it. I had enough liquid from the lime juice and tomatoes that I did not need the chicken stock.
  11. Lastly, flavor. This meal was OK for flavor. The rotisserie chicken added a ton of flavor, but hot sauce was definitely required. My kids do not care for corn tortillas, so regular work too. Add the above recommended dry spices, and you’ll be fine. Worst case, just make this into a giant dip, eat with chips. Done.

Clear as mud, right? Anyway, follow the recipe, make your own changes. One thing I like to do is get extra Taco Bell sauces to keep at home. I pull them out on nights like tonight to make the meal a little fun for the kids. My kids LOVE taco bell, and they LOVE the sauces, so this makes them think we’re sort of eating at taco bell, only without the nasty gut-rot after! YAY!

Have a great week – I’ll be back tomorrow talking about a new pulled pork recipe that I found using a new spice mix. It cooks all day, so I don’t have to worry about dinner because I’ll be downtown!!!!

Cheers!

Weeknight Dinners

12 Minute Mashed Potatoes

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I’m BAAAAACK and it feels so good to write and be part of the blogging community again.

Last night, we were all craving a meat and potatoes, essentially a comfort food meal. So first I’m going to tell you about the food we made, and then I’ll address the elephant in the room….where we were last week! And why I haven’t blogged.

First, chicken cordon bleu + mashed potatoes + steamed broccoli = winning!

The chicken cordon bleus are frozen from Brenans (yes, I stocked up from Jacobson’s Meats before Brenans closes) and steamed some broccoli, super simple.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 russet potatoes, rinsed peeled and cubed into 1/4″ pieces
  • large kettle
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • potato masher

Directions

  1. In a large kettle, boil your water until you have a rolling boil (salt it, too, 1/2 tsp salt)
  2. Peel and cube your potatoes
  3. Once you have a rolling boil, add the potatoes
  4. Boil for 12 minutes, or until fork tender. You should be able to slice with a butter knife, that tender.
  5. Drain the pototoes and place back into kettle
  6. Add the remaining salt, butter, milk and black pepper
  7. Use all of your built up stress and mash the heck out of your potatotes.
  8. Keep a close eye on your potatoes though, you can actually over-mash and create “gummy” potatoes.
  9. Stop mashing once you have a pretty un-lumpy consistency. A few lumps are OK!
  10. Use a canned gravy, no gravy or homemade gravy.

I recruited my husband to whip up a gravy last night because, well, he LOVES cooking in the kitchen and can basically make ANYTHING I ask him to, on a whim. He’s got that skill, ya know, so I’m jell. He should be on a cooking show. Seriously. I’m grateful because when I was pregnant, I’d be like, “I’m craving Blah, blah, blah gyros, pickles mashed potatoes and side of pot roast with vegetables and gravy” and he’d make “blah, blah, blah” lickety split.

Who doesn’t LOVE MASHED POTATOES?!

My elephant.

This blog is for my nut-allergic daughter; however, my son was hospitalized last week, and that’s where we were – hanging at Children’s Hospital. He came in contact with e.coli shiga toxin and developed HUS, a very dangerous infection that destroys red blood cells and put my son in renal failure. We watched my sons health steadily decline over several days.

There is no cure for this infection – you basically wait and watch to see how fast the body will rebound. My son’s labs got better quickly, however, his body was still destroying red blood cells faster than his 4 year old body could keep up. He lost 5 pounds, turned into a vegetable, couldn’t walk, toilet, or stand independently. His lips were a faint white color as he had little blood left circulating. The scariest par was the week before, at home where he was severely ill for almost 5 days prior to this. In total, he was sick for almost 14 total days, with 7 of those days in the hospital. By far, the scariest two weeks of my entire life.

The good news is that Carter avoided dialysis and a second blood transfusion. His one and only blood transfusion perked him up and had him on a road to health in no time. We are considered to be one of the lucky ones. Many kids have several transfusions, dialysis, feeding tubes, surgery, and transplants. Some even have life-long issues stemming from this. I can’t help but feel grateful for where we are today.

  • I’m grateful for the physicians, staff and students at the hospital for taking care of our whole family.
  • I’m grateful for the many, many caregivers that took extra special care of my nut-allergic daughter.
  • I’m grateful for the blood donor, who made an AB+ match possible.
  • I’m grateful for my daughters amazing school and support she had on a regular basis.
  • I’m grateful for my online community and outpouring of emails, comments, texts and social media support.
  • I’m grateful for all of the visitors to the hospital who made our stay that much more comfortable.
  • I’m very grateful for my husband. We remained a united front. A true test of our marriage and commitment to our family. We only left the hospital to shower at home.  Our son had our 100% attention and dedication at the hospital. My husband had a fine line to walk. As a doctor, he knew a lot going into this, and as a Dad, he had another responsibility. He spoke up as needed, gave advise and hypothesis when appropriate.  He helped with blood draws at 4am when the night nurses difficulties. He gave wagon rides to pass the time, played DVDs and gave hugs when they were needed the most. I don’t know if my husband knows how much I value his giant brain and big heart, but one thing is for sure, I love him and our kids are lucky to have such a smart, loving and dedicated Dad.

This situation was a wake-up call for me. Don’t take the little things for granted. I’ve said this phrase a million times, but now I am actually living it.  I learned so much:

  • Yoga is a useful tool in any situation and can easily be done in a small hospital room.
  • Mindful breathing through rounds is a good way NOT to cry in front of 8 residents and the attending.
  • Hospital food isn’t so bad.
  • God made flasks for a reason.
  • Hospital visitors are VITAL, and I will make an effort to do this more.
  • Wash hands before meals EVERY SINGLE TIME no matter what.
  • Monitor diarrhea, more than 2 days, a doctor should know about it.
  • Vinegar and hot water is a disinfectant.
  • Bleach is your bathrooms best friend.
  • Stats from labs are fun to analyze.

I’m glad to be home. I’m glad to have kids bickering. I’m glad to make food in my kitchen again and I’m happy to have kids running and playing as I’m trying to clean and cook. I’m happy to have the “normal” every day stress. I’m excited to take my daughter to school and pick her up. Because in an instant, everything can change. Nothing is permanent. Enjoy the right now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed to be the same as today.

Thanks for letting me spew my thoughts – this post has nothing to do with allergies. But I needed to clear my mind in order to move forward with my regular blog posts. I hope you hug your loved ones a little longer and a little tighter tonight. Life is a gift.

 

Weeknight Dinners

Greek Salad & Grilled Pita

What. A. Week.

It’s Sunday and a new week is about to begin. The show must go on!

You may see some repeats on here from last week, we had some last minute changes due to a tummy bug that invaded our home. Fingers crossed we are done with that exciting experience for a long, long time.

One thing is for sure, we learned a lot.  One moment that stands out in my mind happened on Friday, when my son was not doing well. He was having a hard time when he told me that he was going to “just breathe through it Mamma.” He learned the skill of finding his breath by practicing yoga often at his Preschool.  He made me so proud of his ability to cope with a very uncomfortable and stressful situation. He continues to amaze me and we are so grateful for his school and the support we received last week. From friends, family and co-workers, the phone calls, meals, and kind words were all appreciated.

My daughter and husband were also a huge help in so many ways I can’t even count, they were an amazing team, but one of the ways they love to help is in the kitchen. And for this week, we are excited to try this twist on one of our favorite Panera Salads! The Greek salad, of course!!!

P.S. if you have nut-allergies, NOTHING AT PANERA IS SAFE FOR YOU TO EAT. And that is why we are making this Panera re-make.

Before you read this and think “that sounds like too much for a week night” – hear me out, it’s not bad, you just need a giant fry pan or grill pan and few ingredients. You’re going to grill the pepper + pita then make a dressing and combine it all. It’s not bad. And the more you make a recipe, the easier it gets.

 

Greek Chopped Salad & Grilled Pita

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 tsp  salt
  • 3 whole wheat pita rounds
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 oz feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat (you can also use your grill, or a large frying pan with high sides, you just wont have the fancy grill marks if you use a regular pan).
  2. Coat the grill pan with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the seeds and membranes from bell pepper and cut into quarters.
  4. add the bell pepper to the grill pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until its charred and tender.
  5. Remove bell pepper from pan and cut into bite size pieces for your salad.
  6. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Brush oil mixture evenly over both sides of the pita bread.
  7. Add the pita bread to your grill pan and cook 2 min on each side. Cut into 6 wedges.
  8. Combine the remaining 3 tbsp oil, vinegar, juice and mustard in a large bowl and stir with a whisk.Stir in 1 tsp oregano, salt, pepper, charred bell pepper, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, beans, and toss well.
  9. Divide among 4 plates and top with cheese. Serve with pita

On IG, I promised some back-up meal ideas. Well, here you go:

  1. Snack dinner.  <——-click on that to see what we usually do.  I love the left-overs from this meal, we snack on it all week and it’s easy to refill and pop back into the fridge. Tupperware makes a good dish for this with a resealable lid.
  2. Campbells Soup Starters   We are huge fans of these easy meal starter kits. They aren’t homemade by they do the job and the kids like ALL of the flavors. Currently, there are 4 in my pantry. Oh, and my Dad works for Campbell’s Soup, so I know the allergy information is 100% accurate!
  3. Dino Nuggets. Need I say more? Find these little friends at Target.
  4. Benvenutos DELIVERS!!! And they are SO on top of allergies, I love them.
  5. Happy Meals. If it’s been a week….McDonalds is happening. McDonald’s Allergy information is beyond amazing.

 

Mom Things, Weeknight Dinners

BRAT Meals for Kids

No, my kids aren’t being brats. We’ve got a tummy bug in our house so we’re sticking to the BRAT diet; banana, rice, applesauce and toast. I had an awesome spaghetti squash meal ready to go for tonight, but at 4:30 this morning, my little guy woke up not feeling well. It’s been a tough morning for him so far, and we’re currently snuggled on the couch watching Looney Tunes and I’ve rescheduled my entire day to be with him.

Luckily, squash has a long shelf life, so I don’t feel bad about not making it tonight.  Being flexible during the week is super important, which is why I typically choose things that can be re-arranged and thrown back onto the shelf for later if need be.

My meatballs from Conscious Carnivore went back into the freezer for next week.  The meatballs are also nut-free (this is the first time I’m trying their meatballs…why not, everything else from Conscious Carnivore is AMAZING.) as is everything else at Conscious Carnivore. For tonight, I’m going to make a batch of this Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup from a few posts ago, and whatever my little guy would like from his BRAT diet choices 🙂

If you have nut-allergies, BRAT meals can be tricky. Bananas and applesauce are easy, but be sure to check the labels on your rice and bread; especially lentils if you use those, too. We use Country Hearth bread or Angelic which is made in a dedicated nut-free facility.

I’ll post an update when the Spaghetti Squash is live from my IG. Have a great rest of your week and enjoy this beautiful weather this weekend 🙂 Fall is a tad early, so make sure you get some solid leaf peeping in at Devil’s Lake State Park soon!

 

Weeknight Dinners

Quinoa Acorn Squash + Chicken Sausage

Squash is pletiful in the garden now, and you can find it at almost every farmers market and grocery store.  There are many ways to make squash, but the yummiest way, in my opinion, is roasting it. I hated squash until my late 20s when my Mom made a great recipe at Thanks Giving that included roasting it, like this recipe does. 

Acorn Squash

  • One acorn squash feeds two people, so I’m using 2 for the 4 of us.
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (1 cup white sugar + 1 tbsp molasses if you ran out of Brown sugar at the last minute like I did. Stir stir stir on high heat. Wallah, you have brown sugar)
  • Two packets of your favorite quinoa + rice spice mix. 
  • One pack of your favorite chicken sausage or Italian sausage

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (175 degrees
  2. Fill slices acorn squash  with butter and sugar. 
  3. Turn squash upside down onto a lined baking sheet. 
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven until it begins to soften, about 45 min.
  5. Roast until you like, I like mine roasted to death, so more like an hour.

Prepare your rice and sausage. I’m slicing the sausage and pan frying it before adding it to the rice mix.

Lastly, top with Parmesan. If you want to be fancy and make parmesan curls, get out that potato peeler and grate your Parmesan that way. Or leave it off, whatever floats your boat.

Have a great night! It’s so hot here today, I don’t even feel like eating this meal now!!!!!!!!!!!!