Holiday Favorites, Travel

4th of July Menu

In our house, this is actually the 3rd of July menu. On the 4th, we hang out at my Aunt Martha’s House for a family get together. We love it, there are lots of laughs, swimming and of course, amazing food prepared by my Aunt!

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Our cookout begins on the 3rd with friends and family coming over in the afternoon to socialize and have a few laughs. We love to hang out on the balcony and watch all of the people make their way down to the lakefront. We put our blankets down on the grassy hill to hold our seats for the big show. And while we wait, we EAT! Here is what we have talked about for this year so far. Just click on the links below for the recipe.

Cookout Menu

  1. BBQ Ribs
  2. Potato Salad
  3. Fruit Pizza
  4. Taco Dip
  5. Vegetable tray
  6. Pasta Salad
  7. Jumbo Cupcake Cake
  8. Star Watermelon Pieces
  9. Moscow Mules
  10. Late night Popcorn and Sunbutter Bars
Holiday Favorites, Snacking, Travel

Dairy Queen & Nut Allergies

It is summer, and a steamy one at that. We’re all frantically reading labels and trying to find cool summertime treats for our kiddos and friends. It is certainly tricky when you have a food allergy, to say the least.

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Over the past year we have become good friends with our neighborhood Dairy Queen. Each Dairy Queen is a little different, and establishing a relationship is crucial when you have an allergy. The DQ that we frequent has a few “approved” by MOM items on its menu. The soft serve and pre-packed Starkiss popsicles are some of them.

How do we DQ?

  1. Know your DQ or talk to a manager up front about allergies.
  2. We only do soft serve. Chocolate or vanilla.
  3. The cones are nut free + safe.
  4. The ice cream itself is nut free.
  5. Cross contact you need to worry about.
  6. Our DQ takes a small amount of ice cream out of the machine before serving my nut allergic daughter to make sure no trace amounts of others toppings are on hers.
  7. Always be prepared, and ENJOY IT!

*NEW*

Image result for dairy queen starkiss

Today I spoke with Dairy Queen Corporate Headquarters in Minnesota.

DQ International: (952) 830 – 0200

Taylor was my CSR and she was well aware of food allergies since she also has tree nut and peanut allergies. She helped me find out about Starkiss Popsicles at DQ, sold in the stand alone freezer section. And they are SAFE! The Starkiss product is part of their nut free offering at DQ. When purchased from DQ and wrapped in cling wrap from the manufacturer, it can be stated that, “Starkiss are produced in a nut free environment, free from peanuts and tree nuts.”

Many times my daughter has asked to try one, however, the allergy information only says “contains milk” – but we all know that facility information is not always disclosed on the label.

Today’s phone call warmed my heart. Taylor was so informative. We are beyond excited to have one more safe “on the go” item to add to our list of treats.

Have a wonderful weekend! Stay cool! We’ll be back on Monday with a complete 4th of July Menu for our annual Fireworks Party on the Milwaukee Lake Front!

Cheers!

xo

Snacking

Lite Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I fully intended on blogging tonight about my failed recipe disaster, minus an oven fire. You see, any creation that comes out of a kitchen with two wild animals roaming freely is bound to end in disaster, eventually, if not regularly. I regularly mess things up in the kitchen when I’m cooking / baking, mostly because I’m half responding to the random MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM questions buzzing in my ear. The point is not to dwell on it, then just eat it or throw it out and move on…to McDonalds.

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Fortunately, luck was on our side tonight. We were multitasking ninjas and decided it was a splendid time to whip up a lighter version of our favorite Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, among other things. The recipe below is what we made. It looks soupy so make sure you have a drip pan below your 9 x 13 baking dish, and let it set up /cool after you’re done baking it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Filling

  • 8 cups chopped rhubarb; I used 6 stalks and have no idea how many cups that came out to be, but it wasn’t a lot.
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pound strawberries; I used about 8 cups of strawberries since I was short on rhubarb. The point is, just use up all your strawberries, fill your baking pan 3/4 full with berries and rhubarb. This does not have to be exact science.
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (I didn’t tonight since I did not have a lemon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Topping

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp, not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups quick oats / rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. in a large bowl, combine all of the “filling” ingredients and combine well.
  3. Pour the “filling” into the baking dish and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, combine the “topping” and mix well with your hands. It should be a little clumpy, no need for a pastry blender. Clumps will bake out.
  5. Sprinkle evenly the “topping” over the “filling” and put into oven.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, check on it.
  7. Bake for additional 10 minutes or until oats are slightly browning and the juices are bubbling on the sides of the crust.
  8. Be sure to bake with a lined + rimmed drip pan under neath.
  9. Enjoy!
  10. Serve with whip cream, ice cream and mint leaf!

*This recipe uses 2 cups less sugar and 1/4 cup less flour and + 1 cup additional oats than the original recipe. It’s much less cake like, and has more oats for fiber.

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Enjoy strawberry season! It’s short, so google your nearest farm, and get out there! It’s so fun. If you don’t have time to use them all up, rinse, hull and freeze in zip top bags for a month.  Or put them into zip top snack size bags for lunches and freeze; half frozen berries are the best snack in the summer (also makes it easy for morning smoothies if they are pre-portioned).

Mom Things, Travel

Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison, WI

June, the beginning of summer in the mid-west and it is always a busy month in our household. It’s usually the last week of school, followed by the beginning of pool season, backyard play times, neighborly hangouts and the one big event I still help plan, Olbrich Garden’s Rhapsody in Bloom! This fundraiser is important since it helps keep the gardens fee for the public to enjoy. Yes, Olbrich is amazing + gorgeous + free!

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What is Olbrich Gardens?! It is a botanical garden that sprawls 16 acres with an array of paths and stone trails to stroll. It is host to the only Thai Pavilion in North America, which was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. UW-Madison has one of the largest Thai student populations of any U.S. college or university. Olbrich is continuously voted #1 on Trip Advisor for being the #1 attraction in Madison, WI. It overlooks beautiful Lake Monona + is directly across from the new Olbrich Bier Garten.

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Olbrich has brought me peace and happiness on some of my hardest days. It is home to some of my favorite memories of my family; from picnics on the great lawn to the train show + blooming butterflies, Olbrich has been my place to go from reflection to celebration. Over the past 10 years, I have really gotten to know this place and the people that make it so beautiful. It really does take a village to maintain this luscious space, and they work extra hard in June to make sure the gardens are in tip-top shape for this grand reveal of the Rhapsody in Bloom. This event is held anually and is the PEAK of the garden blooming. Breathtaking is probably the most accurate word used to describe its beauty.

This year’s event was held on June 16 (the hottest day of the year so far in WI) and the theme was Ebb & Flow.  It was a water / nautical twist that incorporated mermaids through out the gardens, motorboat races, steel drums, games, themed cocktails & amazing catering from the delicious and well-known Underground Food Collective. The presentation of the food was gorgeous; from the taste to display, Underground nailed it.

While I did not confirm nut-free options for food allergies since my daughter was not attending (its adults only), we did not have nuts in any of the main dishes. There were many gluten free options as well, making this event + catering “allergy friendly” and easy for many to enjoy.

I’m so grateful for Olbrich and this hidden gem we have here in Madison. If you haven’t visited Olbrich yet, put it on your list. Even in winter, the Conservatory is open and helps with those winter blues! What a wonderful event – I’m excited to see what next year’s theme will be!

 

Brunch

Rhubarb Compote & Overnight Oats

Today is so exciting! The summer slimdown 2018 food challenge starts and I’m already off to a great start thanks to food prepping in advance.

This morning consisted of drinking 16oz water and taking vitamin C and probiotic. Then I made my usual CCN mango mint lime smoothie (from 2 food challenges ago) and had my morning cup of coffee, sans sugar and dairy.

The picture above is my morning snack. easy.

Rhubarb Compote

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups cherries (I used strawberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil
  3. Add your ingredients to the pan and mix around to combine
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until all is soft
  5. Cool
  6. Store in Tupperware in fridge until use

So for the overnight oats, I just used a Mason jar, 1/2 cup Quaker oats (nut free) and added 1/2 cup coconut milk with 1/2 cup rhubarb compote. Delish. Sweet. Filling. So good! And I’m good until lunch.

I’ love a good food challenge, I love being part of something bigger, I love learning about new recipes and the chemistry that happens with our bodies in the way in which we are eating. I love learning and CCN is a great teacher. Mostly, I love being connected to all of these amazing people trying to live a healthy (mind and body) lifestyle. amazing!!!

Have a great Monday!!!😍