Holiday Favorites, Snacking

Dove Valentine’s Chocolate

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Chocoholics REJOICE! If you have peanut / treenut allergies, I have such good news to share. Today we called Mars Candy Company, the manufacturer of Dove Chocolates. We asked spcifically about the Pink Champagne and Milk Chocolate Swirl hearts. The customer service rep assured us that they are made in a dedicated peanut and treenut free facility. 

Whats even more exciting is that on EVERY DOVE CHOCOLATE PACKAGE, it will say “Allergies” and a “may contain” statement. The may contain statement may not always be present. If it’s NOT present, then your specific allergen is not present in the manufacturing facility. If the allergen is in the manufacturing facility, it WILL BE STATED on the package in the “may contain” statement under “allergies.”

Wait, there is more! When you’re looking for allergy info, look for this code. ELZ. ELZ is a code that means the chocolate is made in a dedicated nutfree facility. No peanuts or tree nuts.  This code is located on the back of the bag in the “best by” date white box. It’s directy below the date.

Lastly, I just have to say KUDOS to Mars/Dove for having such EXCELLENT and KNOWLEDGABLE customer service representatives answering these allergy phone calls. Our rep today called me back very quickly and she was able to answer my questions and then offer more information for future purchases. I was impressed!

Thank you, Dove!

Snacking

Panera Cookie Remake

Dining out is difficult when you have food allergies. Especially at Panera. Panera is a big no-no in our nut-free house. Which is hard because I LOVE it. Panera’s fast, healthy options are so tasty, they are perfect for busy Moms on the go.

However, for my daughter, this place is very risky. The chance for cross-contact in their kitchen is high. They use all sorts of nuts in their salads and the make-line area is very open, offering little to no menu options to be deemed as “safe” here.  Their bakery items have a warning, “Many of our products contain or may come into contact with common allergens, including wheat, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish and shellfish.” And even more details here.

However, when we are in a pinch, and this is the ONLY option, I have allowed two things from Panera.

  1. Kids macaroni and cheese
  2. Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup

I’ve always done this in PERSON and have watched the prep area make the food. If I ever feel like this is not a good idea, Chloe eats an Enjoy Life (Always in my purse, always) granola bar until we can find something else. Not every restaurant is great at handling food allergies. So why risk it.

Last week I had a chance to eat lunch with a good friend at Panera and ordered something new for the first time in a long time. Usually when I Panera, it’s a UPICK2, greek salad and panini or black bean soup.

This time, I tried a pasta dish called Baja Mac N Cheese. Basically it’s the kids mac n cheese with pico de gallo over the top with avocado. For 530 calories I was full for 5 hours, and I only had the kid size portion. This dish was so good I wanted to remake it. But I did not. YET.

Instead, I was super naughty and ate a giant cookie that I usually never order since I don’t want to make my daughter feel bad. But since she wasn’t with me, I splurged on the cookie. Which was AMAZING.

Lets make sure the cookie gets the attention it deserves.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The Kitchen Sink Cookie is my new favorite cookie. I’m not even sure I like a plain old chocolate chip cookie as much as I LOVE this cookie.

Kitchen Sink Cookie

Kitchen Sink Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, browned
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is nut-free)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea sat, and more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup broken pretzels, and more for on top (Rold Gold)
  • 1 and ½ cups caramel bits, and more for top (I used Kraft brand)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, and more for on top (Enjoy Life Brand)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and prepare your baking sheets
  2. To brown the butter: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking as it melts, foams, bubbles, and eventually little brown bits form and it turns amber. Immediately pour into your mixing bowl, be sure to use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits into the bowl (they are full of wonderful flavor).
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together for a couple minutes, then add the vanilla.
  4. Next add the eggs and beat until the are well incorporated.
  5. Add the baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and about a third of the flour. Mix slowly, add another third of flour, mix, and add the last of the flour until just combined. Do not over mix the dough.
  6. Fold in the pretzels, caramel bits, and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Large Cookies
  1. Scoop out very large balls of dough (¼ cup size) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between (plan on doing multiple batches.) Add more broken pretzel pieces, caramel bits, and chocolate chips to the tops of the dough balls to preference. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Bake 13-15 minutes (this will vary, according to the size of your cookies), until golden around the edges. Do not over cook! Remove and allow to set up and cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Side note: I do not like huge cookies, so we use a small ball scooper, looks like an ice cream scooper.

Special thanks to Mel & Boys Kitchen Blog for this recipe. I am so grateful + happy to have this amazing recipe in my book now!

 

Snacking

Chloe’s Chocolate Costco Find

Up until this week, we were Costco virgins. We’ve been to Costco with friends, but never actually had a membership. At 5’2, this store consumed me! It’s definitely overwhelming for someone who is not familiar with the layout – bathrooms are important when shopping with kids! We found those first.

On the opposite side of the store.

Of course.

But, overall, it was OK – we found some good stuff and a few new nut-free finds. My biggest complaint is that everything is SO BIG! Sometimes I just want to try a sample size before spending the $$ on it. That was the other thing, prices are not always listed on things – or near things. Kind of frustrating.

Here’s what we found today – a bigger package than I wanted, but here it is!

Lucy’s Brownie Crisps. 

Nut free, milk free, egg free, vegan. Made with 72% organic dark chocolate!

After a few samples, we ALL agree, these are a winner!

Holiday Favorites, Snacking, Uncategorized

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

My Mom and I have a few things we “bake” each December. I say it in quotations because it’s not really baking. More like coating pre-made things in chocolate that we can then say we “made” or as Food Network’s Sandra Lee commonly says, “Semi-Homemade.”

Here’s one of our favorites, pretzels with a melted chocolate with a Vermont Nut-free skipper on top to smush all the chocolate into the pretzel. Once it cools, you have a very tasty little sweet and salty treat that’s easy to package up and gift, or travel with.

Chocolate is difficult this time of year since so much of it is just not made in a facility that’s safe. Here are the safe chocolates that we melt in the oven at 160* over Snyders Pretzels for 5 minutes before adding the skippers.

  1. Hersheys Hugs, Classic package, not holiday package
  2. Hersheys Kisses, Classic package, not holidays package
  3. Rolos, classic packaging