Allergy Friendly Brunch

I’m not the only one with spring fever, right? I desperately want to open all the doors and windows in the house and spend countless hours at the park.

I am so thankful that we had a glimpse of spring on Easter. It was wonderful to have an Easter egg hunt outside and not feel rushed to get back inside to warm up! We had a busy day, starting with 7:45 am mass, breakfast at my sisters and ending with an egg hunt and dinner at Karl’s uncle’s house. Our immediate families have really started to come around to serving only Ricky-friendly food when we’re all together. Have I mentioned that we have awesome families? Because we do. Breakfast is especially tricky to avoid dairy and eggs, on top of that my niece cannot have gluten so we need to try to eliminate that as well! When trying to fit in so many family gatherings on holidays, avoiding breakfast is not really an option, so we have come up with a pretty excellent brunch menu that is delicious and free of nuts, dairy, eggs and gluten!

Brunch Menu

breakfast brunch

It may be simple, but it works for us and I haven’t heard any complaints yet!

Gluten Free Banana Cinnamon Crumble Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 Tbs ground flax, mixed with 6 Tbs water)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed (~2 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter softened**
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Make flax eggs and buttermilk and set aside for approximately 5-10 minutes
  • Whisk together flax eggs, buttermilk and oil
  • Mash bananas and add to the flax egg mixture along with the vanilla. Mix well
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, xanthum gum, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  • Add flour mixture into the flax egg mixture slowly, stirring to combine. Be careful not to over-mix
  • Pour bread dough into a greased 10″ bread pan
  • Mix your cinnamon crumble topping by adding the flour, sugar and cinnamon to the softened butter and stirring with a fork. Break any large pieces up and sprinkle evenly on top of your bread dough
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 75-85 minutes. Note: this is a lower temperature setting than called for by the “extensively baked” plan, but the duration of time is quite a bit longer, so it is approved by our allergist.
  • Take the bread out of the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack

*To make dairy free buttermilk, mix 1 Tbs vinegar with 1 scant cup coconut milk
**Best dairy free option here is Blue Bonnet Lactose Free

And since I know you’re all dying to see my cuties on Easter, here you go! Karl and I have agreed that I can dress the boys (including him) on Christmas and Easter without any sass from him, and I make the absolute most of it!

Sick Kids are the Worst (Vegetable Minestrone is not)

I feel like I’ve been in the trenches of motherhood. Raymond is still refusing a bottle and Ricky has hit a difficult stage of testing boundaries. Both boys (and Karl) were sick the past couple of weeks and this mama is tired. Babies with colds are just sad because they struggle to breastfeed and coughs wake them at night, which leads to mommy holding baby all night and sleeping in a chair. Toddlers with colds are awful because they turn into butt heads. Don’t get me wrong, I know Ricky wasn’t feeling his best and that is hard when you are little and don’t understand, but for some reason this also made him feel as though he could turn into a sassy pants for two weeks straight. Punishing a sick kid is tough; he was extra testy and objecting time outs, and although I didn’t want to make him scream and hurt his throat worse, I also didn’t want to condone his behavior. I ended up being a softy most of the time, which has led to what we’ll call challenging behavior these last couple weeks. He is feeling better now and we are getting back into a normal routine, so here is hoping that his behavior turns back around too. I’m also going to blame spring fever- this kid is ready to get outside and get out some of that energy!

Little Raymond is still trying to get over his cold. I’m hoping he gets back to 100% soon so we can get back to sleep training. Lack of sleep is definitely in the top 3 hardest parts of parenthood. While he has been sick, my nights have been reduced to either getting up every 1-1.5 hours to rock him back to sleep or holding him and sleeping upright. Neither is a good option. Although Karl is more than willing to help, my mamma’s boy is having none of that. Ray loves playing with daddy, but when he needs comforting it is mommy time all the time.

While we were sick, I made some delicious vegetable minestrone soup (it also happened to be a Friday during lent). Homemade soup and homemade bread are an instant pick me up in this house.

vegetable minestrone

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth*
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15 -ounce can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup elbow pasta

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, dried oregano and basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 more minutes.

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and pasta and cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

*This could easily be made vegan by using only vegetable broth

They might drive me crazy sometimes, but I still wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Chicken Pot Pie and Cheesy Sayings

Life is busy. I should have been able to predict this by extrapolating from life with one baby, but man is life with two babies BUSY! I have to admit though, that cheesy saying “Full hands, full heart” has never been more true. I mean seriously- look at these kids.

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Raymond is four months and has started taking longer naps, so I am finally getting back to cooking real meals for dinner (as opposed to frozen chicken strips or even… Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches! don’t judge!) . He is also, however, a poster child for four month sleep regression. He went from sleeping from 10 pm – 7 am consistently to up at least 5 times a night. It is rough.  He is so darn cute and smiley during the day, though, that I still like him.

Ricky is potty trained! Almost. We started a couple weeks ago and still have a few accidents here and there, but he is doing great! We went the method where they run around sans pants for a full weekend. We were terrified going into it that the entire house would end up covered in urine and poop, but we were pleasantly surprised with only 3 small accidents over 3 days! We are using candy (either chocolate No-Nos or Starburst) and this kid LOVES candy, so he was very motivated. I’m pretty proud of him. That being said, it has made my days even more hectic because there are pretty frequent “false alarms” when someone claims he has to go, but is really just looking to score a treat. Dropping everything to run to the bathroom every half hour can definitely break up your day.

Anywho- onto the delicious recipe! This is another one that I grew up enjoying, but have since altered to fit into our food allergy family. Enjoy!

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Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • Pie crust (Pillsbury is dairy free)
  • 2 Tbs dairy-free butter (we use Blue Bonnet Lactose Free)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup dairy-free milk (we use coconut milk)
  • ~2 cups cooked chicken (diced)
  • 1 package frozen peas & carrots (12 oz) – cooked and drained

Directions

  • Fit one pie crust in a pie pan, cut other into strips for lattice crust
  • Melt butter in large sauce pan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, pepper and thyme
  • Cook over low heat, stir constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly
  • Stir in broth and non-dairy milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
  • Boil and stir for 1 minute, stir in chicken and cooked vegetables
  • Pour into pastry lined pie pan. Place strips of pie crust to form a lattice top.
  • Cover edge with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning- remove for last 15 minutes of baking
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown

Homemade No-Nut Chocolate Cups

With Christmas approaching, I have been searching for the perfect gifts, which for me includes stocking stuffers. For some reason, my favorite part of Christmas every year was opening my stocking. Being quite a few years younger than my siblings, I was always the first one up for Christmas. Since my sisters were teenagers when I was still in gradeschool, you can imagine that they were a little slower to hop out of bed on Christmas morning. My mom took mercy on me and always let me open my stocking before everyone else got up and it became one of my favorite traditions. My mom put together one mean stocking- filled to the brim with our favorite candy, nail polish, fuzzy socks and the best part- one piece of jewelry. Having boys, the jewelry part is obviously not going to be a tradition that I carry on, but I still want to make sure they have excellent stockings! As any friends of Karl and I will tell you, we have quite the sweet tooth and it did not skip a generation- Ricky LOVES candy. It’s a problem. We try to keep sweets to a minimum in our house because of our intense addiction, but Christmas is not a time for self-control and restraint! Hence, my search for chocolate began.

There are not a lot of options out there for dairy free, egg free, and nut free chocolates. When I did find a few store-bought options, they were either dark chocolate (which has its place, but isn’t the best for a 2 year old) or was extremely expensive. We ordered some chocolate from Premium Chocolatiers and it was SO yummy! Seriously delicious. It absolutely fit the bill for stocking-stuffer perfection. Unfortunately, the price makes it a “special occasion treat” only. After trying their “Peanot Cups” I decided I needed to try to make my own. Mostly because they were so stinking good that I hadn’t had enough but couldn’t justify spending more $$ on chocolate. So, here is my version of No-Nut Chocolate Cups (I used Sunbutter, so we’re calling them Sunbutter Cups in our house because No-Nut Chocolate Cups is kind of a mouthfull for a 2 year old).

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No-Nut Chocolate Cups
(Makes 24 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 bags Enjoy Life chocolate chips (10 oz each)
  • 1/2 cup no-nut butter (I used Natural Sunbutter)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs softened margarine or diary-free butter substitute (I used Blue Bonnet Lactose Free sticks)*

Directions

  • Line a mini-muffin tin with 24 paper liners
  • Melt the first bag of chocolate chips either in a double boiler or microwave. If using the microwave, be sure to melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring between each- this should take around 1.5 -2 minutes.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, divide evenly into the muffin cups using a spoon. Shake the pan every few cups to help smooth out the tops. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare your Sunbutter mixture by combining the Sunbutter, powdered sugar and softened margarine in a bowl and beating with a hand mixer until smooth.
  • Divide the Sunbutter mixture evenly into the muffin cups, freeze for another 15 minutes
  • Melt your second bag of chocolate chips using the same method as the first bag. Divide the chocolate evenly on top of the Sunbutter mixture into each of the muffin cups. Shake the tray to smooth out the tops and be sure to work quickly here as the cups are cold and will start to harden the chocolate right away.
  • Finally, freeze for 15 more minutes to harden the top layer and then enjoy!

I recommend storing these in a ziploc bag in the freezer or refrigerator and thawing before serving. (Or if you’re me, put one on the counter to thaw, and then give in 2 minutes later and eat it frozen!)

*These could be made soy-free very easily by using a dairy-free, soy free option like Earth Balance

Dairy Free Toddler Lunch Ideas

Happy Monday!

My saint of a mother came over today so I could do my Thanksgiving grocery shopping sans kiddos. I expected crazy lines and packed aisles, but was pleasantly surprised by only slightly more people than the normal crowd on a Monday morning. Karl and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year and we decided to take on the full meal instead of doing the usual potluck style. I’m both excited and nervous! My plan of attack is to utilize the bread machine and crockpot, allowing for more space in the oven and stove top. Does anyone have any tips for maximizing kitchen space when cooking a big meal? Let’s hope the kids cooperate that day and give both Karl and I the most cooking time possible instead of having to take turns holding Raymond or appeasing Ricky’s many requests.

I have seen a lot of requests for lunch ideas lately on a few of the allergy Facebook groups I am a part of, so I figured I’d document our lunches last week. Dairy free lunches tend to be a little tricky to come up with since diary is a very common base for most kiddos! These are all free of dairy, egg, and nuts! They are by no means ground-breaking or particularly aesthetically pleasing, but they get the job done and are toddler-approved. Sometimes you just need to see someone else’s meal rotation in order to put some variety into your own!

 

Monday- Sunbutter & jelly sandwich, granny smith apple chunks
Tuesday- Silk soy yogurt, dried cherries from Gerbs, Rold Gold pretzel sticks
Wednesday- “Butter” noodles using Earth Balance and avocado chunks
Thursday- Applegate hot dog, clementine slices and an Enjoy Life cookie
Friday- Sunbutter and Ritz crackers, red pepper pieces, pretzels

Again, I know these aren’t crazy exciting, but they are solid options for quick weekday lunches!

Have a great week everyone and happy Thanksgiving!

Baked Milk Challenge: Banana Cinnamon Crumble Bread

Hello world! I promise we’re all still alive and well over here- just a little busier with two babes running the show. Raymond is 2 and half months and fits into our little family perfectly. You often read about how adding a child to your family makes it feel more complete, and that is exactly the case with little Ray. We still plan to add a couple more munchkins to the gang eventually, but Raymond makes us feel even more like a family. Ricky has adjusted wonderfully! He was a little extra sassy the first month or so, but has started to calm down and get back to his normal, well-behaved self. I think this is because Raymond is taking more consistent naps in the morning, allowing me to give Ricky some one-on-one time. A little attention goes a long way with him and as long as he gets some face time, he is much more well-behaved the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, if we don’t get any one-on-one time and I’m focused on Raymond the majority of the morning, by nap time Ricky is guaranteed to have more than his fair share of tantrums. Let’s hope Raymond continues this new trend of morning naps, for everyone’s sanity!

Also, Raymond is huge. He is already starting to wear 6 month clothing! Ricky was in 3 months until he was around 5 months old! Just another example of each kid having their own identity, I suppose. Either way, they are both pretty darn adorable. Life is good.

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Allergy update. We had a set-back a few weeks ago. We had worked our way in the baked dairy challenge all the way up to baked cookies (no longer considered “extensively baked,” baked at 350 degrees for ~10 minutes) with no reactions. So, we moved forward to the next step: stove-top pudding. We gave Ricky about a teaspoon of stove top pudding made with milk, and within a couple minutes he started itching and his lips got puffy. We monitored him closely for about 10 minutes before deciding to go to the ER. There were no hives, but his mouth was obviously swelling and he coughed a few times. We did not administer the epi because we live so close to the hospital, but I had it on hand, in ready the entire time. So scary. It was a real blow to our morale, we had truly gotten our hopes up that he had outgrown his allergy. This reminder that a small amount of something as common as dairy could kill our son was jarring. Because of the mouth swelling, our allergist suggested we dial back the baked dairy challenge to “extensively baked” for the next year, meaning everything has to be baked at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Ricky is only 2 and although he is very communicative for his age, he is still not able to accurately describe things like an itchy mouth or tongue swelling, so our allergist felt it best that we wait another year before trying to move forward and we completely agree. Which means, I need to continue to find yummy breads and other recipes that fit the “extensively baked” requirement. Here is one of my most successful finds, adapted from this recipe.

I have tried a lot of banana breads and they always seem to end up under-cooked in the middle. Finally, the yummiest, completely cooked bread with a crunchy cinnamon crumble on top. Enjoy!

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Banana Cinnamon Crumble Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed (~2 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Make flax eggs and buttermilk and set aside for approximately 5-10 minutes
  • Whisk together flax eggs, buttermilk and oil
  • Mash bananas and add to the flax egg mixture along with the vanilla. Mix well
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  • Add flour mixture into the flax egg mixture slowly, stirring to combine. Be careful not to over-mix
  • Pour bread dough into a greased 10″ bread pan
  • Mix your cinnamon crumble topping by adding the flour, sugar and cinnamon to the softened butter and stirring with a fork. Break any large pieces up and sprinkle evenly on top of your bread dough
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 75-85 minutes. Note: this is a lower temperature setting than called for by the “extensively baked” plan, but the duration of time is quite a bit longer, so it is approved by our allergist.
  • Take the bread out of the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack
  • Enjoy!

Baked Milk Challenge: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins and Friday Ramblings

Happy Friday! We have a very exciting weekend ahead of us- Raymond’s baptism is this Sunday! I am so excited for our littlest man to officially join God’s family. We are having our immediate families plus grandparents over afterwards for a late lunch, so much of the weekend will be spent prepping the house. Since it is starting to get cool outside I was forced to think outside our normal grilling options for a big group- I decided on chili and chicken and wild rice soup for the main course. I’ll be sure to share the recipes (and more importantly- baptism photos) next week!

For this week’s baked milk challenge I made Two Peas and Their Pod’s delicious Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. Talk about yummy! The only switch I made was using flax eggs in place of the 2 eggs in the recipe. If you know me well, you know just how much I like muffins. They are one of my absolute favorite foods- I’d go so far as to say that I never met a muffin I didn’t like. These are no exception and Ricky agreed. They are baked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, so the next step is something baked for ~20 minutes at a lower temp.

On another note, Karl has accused me of going a little too far in dressing the boys alike. My response? Get used to it 🙂

brothers