Holiday Favorites, Snacking

Nut Free Advent Calendar

Since it’s challenging to find a nut-free advent calendar, I’ve purchased a Pottery Barn “fill-it-yourself” type and have stuffed a bunch of nut-free candy of my own in. It’s the same thing. Just a count down. Nothing fancy. Ok probably the fanciest advent calendar, but at least it’s 100% nut free and I know what’s in it!
Other options I saw this year include the Target countdowns with Lego. Love that they are non-food based.  Check the link to order online and pick-up in stores.

Target Lego Advent Calendars\

A few ideas for a fill-it-yourself calendar….we raided our local Target tonight. Somehow I’ve missed the boat here for advent calendars. It starts Friday, and a lot of stuff is really picked over. 

Don’t forget St.Nick comes next week, too ๐Ÿ™‚ Toys R Us has some great $1 bin items. I haven’t been impressed with the Target $1-$5 bins, we have enough erasers and pencils.

 Happy Holiday Season! Whatever you are celebrating, I hope it’s joyful.

Mom Things

Nut Allergies and Kissing

A kiss seems so innocent. I give the kid’s kisses every morning before they are off to school, and rarely I think about it.

Today I messed up.

Big time.

Luckily, I just got back from FaBlogCon where we talked about kissing and food allergies. And with the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect time to talk about your SMOOCHES!

Please, if you can, just give hugs, they are always safe.

This morning, I was making lunches and the kids asked for Oatmeal for breakfast (ok, winning on that one, patting myself on the back). Oatmeal takes a little longer than cereal or toast, so I was short on time for my own breakfast. We can’t leave the house unless EVERYONE has something to eat, that’s just how we are. Morning time = hungry time.

I quickly made a piece of toast and topped it with Peanut Butter, and stood in my usual peanut butter corner zone, away from my daughter and a place that’s super easy to clean up when I’m done. No cross contact happening here. I did all the right things. Normally I don’t even eat it around her, but today I was in time crunch and needed some quick toast.

Then a few minutes later we are in the drop off circle at school and my daughter zooms in for her morning smooch. At the moment, I did not think anything of it, but I felt off.

About half way to my son’s school I retraced my morning steps and quickly found my mistake, the peanut butter toast + smooch = possibly deadly kiss.

The old me would have lost it. The new me said, “Don’t freak out, I will call the school and talk to the admin, they can help.”

Our very lovely school, and front office personnel handled it like a boss, even telling my daughter that they just needed to wipe her mouth, “there is some breakfast still on there,” so that she wouldn’t freak out. I love our school because it’s tight-knit and EVERYONE knows my kiddo and her food allergies. Everyone here has her back, and I LOVE that.

Lessons learned: from now on, no morning peanut butter toast. I can have a granola bar!!!! I have a tremendous amount of guilt about this and it’s really put a dark cloud over my morning. As parents, we hold ourselves to such insanely high standards. I need to shake this, but felt that I also needed to share. Maybe this has happened to you. Maybe it will happen to you. As our littles grow, kissing will be in their future with boyfriends and girlfriends. Whether we like it or not, they will be adults someday, and kissing conversations need to happen to protect them.

But for now.


Happy Humpday!


Dreamsicle Jello

Do you LOVE Dreamsicle? We do. And this recipe is safe, so I love it even more. During our Thanksgiving prep we found this recipe and decided to try it. Actually, the kids decided we were going to try it. WE all have our favorite things, and they chose this, and there were zero leftovers.



  • 1 large package (6oz) orange Jell-0
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 large package (5.1oz) Cook and Serve Vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 small cans or one large can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 pint whipping cream, or 1 (8oz) cool whip


  1. Stir together in a sauce pan the pudding mix (cook and serve vanilla) and water.
  2. Stir in the orange Jell-0 and cook until slightly thick, about 5-8 minutes, medium low heat and whisk.
  3. Place in a large bowl (probably pyrex since you do not want it to crack, the liquid is over 100* and could cause thermal shock to your dish otherwise), refrigerate until thick, but not set. This took me about 1 hour. If you shake the dish, it should still jiggle around the edge, and slosh in the middle, if that makes any sense ๐Ÿ˜‰
  4. Add the 1 cup of cool whip, 8oz. I took a whisk and whipped it into the partially set jello.
  5. Fold in mandarin oranges
  6. Refrigerate until fully set, approx 4 hours.
  7. Top with any remaining cool whip.


Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Lasagna

After eating the same boring flavor profile, aka, Thanksgiving leftovers, we are switching it up to Italian. Lasagna to be exact. I’ve got two kids in front of me right now fighting over a box, yes, a box. Why am I driving myself nuts over Christmas toys when apparently a box is the cats meow?! I’ll just skip right to the recipe since I need to referee…..

Campbell’s 30 Minute Weeknight Lasagna


  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese – Kraft is safe
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound organic, lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (45 ounces) Pregoยฎ Traditional Italian Sauce or two jars (24 ounces each) Pregoยฎ Three Cheese Italian Sauce
  • 12 cooked lasagna noodles, drained – Barilla is safe
  • 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 cups)


  1. Stir the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and eggs in a medium bowl and set it aside.  Season the beef as desired.  In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the beef until it’s well browned, stirring often to break up the meat. Pour off any fat. Stir the sauce in the saucepan.
  2. Spoon 2 cups beef mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, half the ricotta cheese mixture and half the mozzarella. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining 4 lasagna noodles, remaining beef mixture and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 400ยฐF. for 30 minutes or until the lasagna is hot. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

We’re serving with a side salad and garlic bread.  FOr other quick weeknight dinners, don’t forget you can search my blog, just type in what you’re looking for on the right search column.

Have a great week!

Holiday Favorites, Snacking

Nut Free Starbucks Gingerbread House

We had a little Gigi time today at Mayfair Mall where we visited Santa and had some chocolate milk and cookies. As we waited for our Starbucks chai tea lattes, we saw this adorable nut-free gingerbread house. Make sure you check the label, Starbucks notoriously has items made in a facility with nuts. But these are too cute! 

Holiday Favorites

Nut Free Thanksgiving Menu

Jumping into leaf piles!
Jumping into leaf piles! We love fall!

Tradition gives us hope and happiness, and while I know it won’t be the same this year without my husband’s Mom here (we miss her so much already), we are going to try to incorporate some of our usual traditions to help carry us through to a new beginning and happier 2018. Especially for the kids. They need this the most, to see how we persevere in light of adversity.

For thanksgiving this year, we’re going to use the staples most of us have had, sans the nuts, as per usual, except the one cooking in the kitchen! Here’s what we are thinking.

  1.  Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing, call Whole Foods and have the entire thing catered because 2017 has sucked out loud. Click: Whole Foods Holiday Meals
  2. Welp, if you’re the go-geter kind and Pinterest pressured (so me, see: Bad Mom’s + Bad Mom’s Christmas) into making the whole damn thing, these are some helpful links that we’ve used in the past.
    1. Do order your Turkey from Whole Foods – they have the BEST tasting turkeys, this is where my mom usually orders hers from. This year we’re smoking the turkey using this technique Smoked Turkey Recipe
    2. Green Bean Casserole
    3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts
    4. Cranberry Sauce
    5. 12 Minute Mashed Potatoes
    6. Allergy Free Stuffing
    7. Canned Chilled Cranberry (IS THE BEST)
    8. Mushroom Gravy (V/GF/PN/TN Free)
    9. Roasted Acorn Squash
    10. Stuffing (GF) Alternative
    11. Apple Pie
    12. Pumpkin Pie w/ King Arthur Nut Free Flour
    13. Rhodes Bake N Serv Dinner Rolls Nut Free
    14. Seghesio Wine
    15. Chocolate Milk (Nut Free / GF)
  3. Don’t forget the relish trays. If you’re in Wisconsin, you know there has to be cheese, crackers and sausage. And pickles and olives. And possibly a small veggie tray.
  4. Lastly, tablescaping is uber important. Pretty Natural Table

There you have it – our Thanksgiving meal in a nutshell. Don’t forget the Egg Nog, and to turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to get everyone in the holiday spirit.  As always, we will be double checking all of the labels on the above items, even though I’m 99.9% sure they are all OK since we use them frequently. My favorite part is the pie – and watching everyone around the table laughing and having a good time.  What’s yours? I hope wherever you are, you have a wonderful holiday week surrounded by the ones you love the most.

Happy start to the Holidays!


Weeknight Dinners

Menu Board Inspiration 11/13 – 11/17

We had a fantastic nut free breakfast at the Knick this morning. They make their own pancake mix in-house, so we know it’s nut-free. They are great about handling allergies. We’ve been dining there with family for the past 7 years, and luckily, haven’t had a single issue. From quick date nights, to baptisms, mother’s day, father’s day, post-fireworks cocktails and more, this restaurant holds some of our greatest family memories. We’re grateful to have such a great place so close.

This week is crazy – I’m sensing a theme here – so the menu is quite boring, but hey, I’m not a restaurant. Here’s what we’ve got, nut-free and fast.

Monday – Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday using Ortega (nut-free) Taco kit with Conscious Carnivore, organic + locally sourced taco meat.

Wednesday – Dino Nuggets from Target, mashed potatoes (aka volcanoes + gravy) with trees (broccoli). Go ahead and buy that big bag of potatoes since you’ll use them next week for Thanksgiving!

Thursday – Spaghetti (Barilla) and meatballs to use up the extra sauce (Prego) we have here from last weeks meal.

Friday – Jack’s pizza night (clearing out the fridge and freezer as we gear up for Thanksgiving). We have a whole nut-free + GF + vegetarian menu we are planning! I’ll post this weekend after we take a visit to the Pabst Theater!

Have a great week – I’ve got wall-to-wall meetings this week and final preparations for this coming weekend, so groceries were just ordered online. If you haven’t used Metcalfe’s online grocery ordering, you’re missing out. It’s so easy my 6 year old just did it!

Treats for Mom + Dad this week include a few new friends from Dry Creek Valley:

And for the kiddos, they are still munching away on the snacks from #fablogcon