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!

xoxo

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

Slowcooker BBQ Pork Sammies

It’s Sunday Funday! This morning we had some fun family time mini golfing at Vitense Golfland. Truly, this place is made for kids who want to mini-golf but still have a ton of energy to “do-stuff-besides-golf.” It’s been ranked nationally, and is the number one place in Wisconsin to mini golf.

When I say it’s made for kids, I mean every other hole has a slide (for big kids, too), or an activity of some sort; rocking motorcycles, zip lines, light house climbing tower, giant Giraffe, climbing walls, bridges, you name it. Oh, and having your ball roll into the water, don’t worry, it’s meant to. Who doesn’t LOVE splashing in the water to fetch the ball?

My kids love to mini golf, but their attention span is about 1 putt, then on to something else. Vitense nails family mini golfing.

If it’s cold, don’t worry, the indoor mini golf is even more impressive than the outdoor. It’s a full on replica of Madison landmarks; UW Campus, State Street, Governors Mansion, State Capitol, lakes, Men’s basketball, the Dance County Airport, Wiener mobile (that you can sit in and drive), hot dog slide and a few kids games with tokens.

I bet you didn’t think I was going to fill your head with thoughts of mini golf, did ya?

On to the recipe for your “Meaty Monday” — this IS WISCONSIN, after all.

Crockpot BBQ Pork

Ingredients

  • 2 – 2.5 lbs. boneless pork loin
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 16 oz. bottle BBQ sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on medium for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Shred and enjoy!

Nut-free buns for this would be anything made by Kings Hawaiian. After speaking with them last year, their stuff is made in a dedicated nut-free facility. And they’re pretty good tasting. Not the lowest calorie count for a bun, but it’s a bun.

Sides for tomorrow, I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do yet. I’ll probably do something easy like a Steamfresh bag of green beans or peas seasoned with Season Salt and a little butter and a quick coleslaw (pre-chopped bag) with dressing.

Hope you have a great week – I’ll post a pic of this meal once I make it tomorrow. The rest of the week’s meals can be found on my Instagram at:

nutfreemomblog

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Sunday night.

***And yes, Milwaukee area friends, this attraction is worth the drive. You could spend a day here at Vitense between the indoor restaurants, big kid games, mini golf, arcade and heated driving range, you’ll be set for a minimum of 4 hours. Did I mention there’s also a movie theater down the road from this place? Nice little get-away, especially for cooler weather months.

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Meatballs & Marinara

Tarek and Christina are common names in our household. I am addicted to everything HGTV, mostly because all other news is too stressful and/or ridiculous to watch / listen to. So if you’re a T&C fan as much as I am, the thought of the title “Flip or Flop” may be worth a ponder. Think about it…..they never show a “Flop” – at least I’ve never seen one. Have you? Leave me a comment if you’ve seen one.

Where am I going with this?

I decided to show you a “flop” of mine. If you follow me on Instagram (check lower-right on the homepage) you saw my genius idea of slow cooker meatballs.

In theory, this is a splendid idea! However, there are a few points that I must make here if you love your meatballs a certain way……

First, these are first world issues. Just putting that out there.

And now, I’ve had too much time to think about meatballs, here are my thoughts.

  1. Slow cooking meatballs doesn’t allow them to get crunchy bits on the outside like pan frying or baking does.
  2. Slow cooking meatballs makes very mushy meatballs, more like meat sauce if you cook them as long as I did (as per the recipe).
  3. Slow cooking meatballs is the worst way to actually make a meatball.
  4. If you’re wanting to slow cook a meatball, the best kinds to slow cook are pre-cooked (packaged) or pre-made (by you, under the broiler for 3 minutes to create a nice outter edge so they don’t fall apart)
  5. You must have more sauce than you’d think to cover all the meatballs. This was about 2 full quart size jars. I like Classico + Barilla.

Here’s the recipe. I am going to try it again, but using a different technique, like omitting raw onion. Onions have a TON of water in them and when you bake/slow cook onion, it adds moisture to your recipe that can significantly change what you’re making….I’ve done this before with meatloaf.

So here’s a pretty picture to look at.  Way too much onion right?! I was trying to recycle left over chopped onion from the weekend. Fail. Also, not enough sauce, right. Supposed to cover all the meatballs.

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Crock pot Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1.5# organic, grassfed ground beef (Metcalfes had WI organic beef on sale yesterday for $4.99/lb, that’s 50% off)
  • 1.5 cups Italian bread crumbs (if you don’t have bread crumbs, use bread or saltine crackers, put them in your nutribullet or food processor with some salt, pepper, Italian seasonings….it’s the same thing)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or not fresh, whatever.
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic, or 2 tbsp powder
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (this is where I would prefer to use onion powder)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • You can make your own sauce, or buy 2 jars
  • 1# spaghetti or favorite pasta shape

Directions:

  1. Prepare your crock pot with non-stick spray
  2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl (except sauce and pasta) to make meatballs, approx 12-16 depending on size.
  3. Put all of the spaghetti sauce into crock pot, place meatballs into sauce. Sauce should cover the meatballs.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours

TIPS: If you have time, bake in your oven in pyrex at 400* for 15 minutes BEFORE putting them into the slow cooker.

If you’re looking for nut-free, most pre-packaged meatballs are nut-free. The ONLY ingredient to pay attention to would be the breadcrumbs / bread source. MOST breads are NOT safe, so if you make your own breadcrumbs, make sure your bread is safe. WE use Country Hearth from Sun Prairie, WI. Angelic is also guaranteed nut-free. Progresso bread crumbs are also nut-free, and that’s what I used in this recipe.

This meatball recipe is pretty plain. If you want to spice things up, I suggest another recipe for more flavor. But if it’s a weeknight and you’re looking for fast and easy, this will do. This will do.

Here’s Anne Burrell’s meatball recipe with homemade marinara sauce. I love her cooking, however, I hate how much salt she adds to her recipes. Just adjust your salt levels accordingly.

Anne Burrell Meatballs

Happy Wednesday and thanks for stopping by. The countdown to Modern Family is ON!

P.S. If you have extra meatballs, make meatball subs with a fresh sub roll and slice of mozzarella  cheese.

 

Weeknight Dinners

Quick Green Chicken Chili

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One of the best parts of traveling is trying new food. And then taking that idea home with you and recreating it in your kitchen. I haven’t always been adventurous with creating delicious food. And I’m probably even more cautious now with a nut-allergic child. However, I still try to sample things I normally would not.

Like Green Chicken Chili.

I had a spicy version of this when we were in Chicago a few weeks ago. Technically, I consider myself a chili connoisseur. If a restaurant has chili, I try it. It’s a quest to find the BEST CHILI EVER!

After we got back from vacation, I was flipping through this months Cooking Light Magazine for meal inspiration that would work well for our family. The recipe below comes pretty darn close to what I had in Chicago. And after talking to the chef, it’s also 100% nut-free!

This recipe makes 6 servings. It’s good for dinner + easy lunches. It’s super fast because it uses tasty rotisserie chicken (I swear, my little guy could eat an entire rotisserie chicken all by himself!) Hy-Vee and Metcalfes are my favorite in Madison.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided (I like Rachael Ray, her salt level is perfection)
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (4-oz.) cans mild chopped green chiles, drained (or if you have them in your garden, fresh is OK, too. Just seed them first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup brown rice

Directions

  1. You’ll need to get out your dutch oven, or large kettle, and a small sauce pan for your rice.
  2. First, make your rice in your small sauce pan. I like jasmine rice or brown rice. They are made the same way – just follow your package instructions. 2.5 cups of water + 2 tbsp evoo and a pinch of salt over high heat. Add the rice, bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-4 minutes until the water line is just below the rice. Cover the pot and don’t touch it for 15 minutes.
  3. Next heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over pan; cook 1 minute. Stir in cumin and chiles; cook 1 minute. Add beans and chicken stock, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and salt; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes. Stir in juice.
  5. Remove your rice from the heat and fluff – using an ice cream scooper, plop the rice into your bowls.
  6. Divide chili among 4 bowls; top with radishes, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Cilantro Lime Chicken (Crock pot)

Cilantro Lime Chicken did not disappoint last week – and the good news is that it made a lot of food to eat several different ways. We had two dinners from it and lunch leftovers. This dish can be eaten plain, over jasmine rice, with tortillas chips, as a huge nacho plate with extra olives, cheese and fixins, as burritos, tacos, and quesadillas with red onion and sour cream.

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This recipe is flexible. It can be frozen for a few weeks if you’re planning on making this ahead of time. Our family loves easy slow cooker meals that are full of flavor. Clean up is simple and I didn’t have to think about “what’s for dinner” at all the entire day! And my whole house smelled good while it was slow cooking – like I was actually Momming?!

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5# of boneless, skinless, organic-free range chicken (that’s a tall order, hey?), cubed or cut into small pieces
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes + green chiles
  • 1 can of fire roasted corn (or plain corn is fine too)
  • 1/2 cup salsa – I like mild or medium store bought salsa so the kids enjoy it too
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I actually hate cilantro, but dont mind it in this dish.)
  • 1/2 red onion perfectly Diced Onion
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of two limes

Directions:

  1. If you’re freezing this, just put all the contents of this recipe into a freezer zip top bag and place in your freezer, up to two months.
  2. If you’re not freezing, place all the ingredients in to your slow cooker on low up to 8 hours. My slow cooker cooks things quickly, mine was done in 5 hours, but I also cubed the chicken.

We are BIG Wisconsin Football fans, I plan on using this for Packer parties, Badger Tailgates and long winter weekends with family. What goes better with Wisconsin Football than beer? Nothing. Nothing goes better together. Well, you could throw in some cheese and sausage.

One of my favorite drinks with Mexican food is a Michelada. * This is an alcoholic beverage*

Ingredients:

  • chili-salt blend for the rim of the glass
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) can or bottle light Mexican beer, such as Modelo, Pacífico, Tecate, Victoria, or Corona, well chilled

After you prepare your glass, then mix all of these ingredients together.

This is one of my favorite summer time sippers since it reminds me of the time my hubs and I went to Mexico. I was out of vacation time at work and had to “cough-cough” call in sick for one of the days I was gone. The Michelada was my drink of choice on this trip, and I thoroughly remember swinging and sipping while staring at the ocean. So relaxing!

Enjoy the recipe – I hope you have a great week!

 

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Korean Beef Bowl

I decided to spice it up tonight for dinner – and it turned out to be a winner! My little guy has never eaten so fast, so I’m going to share what we made.

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Korean Beef Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 inch of fresh, peeled ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 squirt of sriracha (the rooster, as my Dad calls it!) + extra for garnish
  • 1 pound grass fed organic beef
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. In a non-stick sauce pan, prepare the brown rice according to package. Set aside
  2. In a large kettle, place the eggs gently on the bottom and fill with water, 1 inch above eggs, bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Reduce to simmer, cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl, whisk together.
  4. In a large frying pan, swirl to coat a TBSP of evoo. Add your spinach and wilt with some garlic, about 3-5 minutes. When it’s done, remove from pan and set aside.
  5. In the same fry pan, add the remaining garlic, ginger and beef. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and the soy sauce mixture. Cook until absorbed.
  6. Drain the water from the eggs. Let the eggs cool. Slice when cooled.
  7. Each plate will have 1 scoop of brown rice, one scoop of sauteed spinach, one scoop of the meat mix, top with one hard boiled egg.

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I love this meal because of the flavor profile. It’s different and delicious. The meal is also very filling. We eat mainly fruits, vegetables, grains and very lean meats/proteins during the day, so having this “heavy” meal for dinner really felt great! And it was not too bad! The fact that the kids ate it up and the hubs said “make it again” made me feel good. This dinner was fast, kid friendly, and very little mess in the end. This recipe will be added to my summer cooking list + meal prep boxes for fast lunches.
Credit to the Damn Delicious WordPress blog for this inspiring recipe!