Dairy-free Ranch Chicken Pasta

This meal is a game changer. I was in a cooking rut, sick of the routine taste palate and missing dairy desperately when someone on one of my allergy Facebook groups posted a recipe for a ranch seasoning packet mix, free of any dairy. Yes, please! This is the best non-dairy, dairy mimic I have found yet and oh boy does my whole family love it.

Side note- this is not part of the written recipe, but I also roast some asparagus and cut that up to add to the pasta. You could do this with any favorite vegetable to add a little color to an otherwise beige (although delicious) meal.

Again, a food photographer I am not, but that doesn’t make the meal any less scrumptious.

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Dairy-Free Ranch Chicken Pasta

Ranch Seasoning Ingredients

  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbs parsley
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Remaining Ingredients

  • 1 cup Just Mayo
  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1 box rotini noodles (we have had the best luck with Ronzoni Smart Taste to avoid egg cc)

Directions

  • Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour (or until cooked through)
  • Cook noodles
  • Combine seasonings for ranch packet. Mix in 1 cup of Just Mayo.
  • Chop cooked chicken, add to the cooked noodles. Stir in the ranch mix until well combined and place in serving dish.
  • Heat further in oven if necessary, otherwise, enjoy!

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

Ricky’s 2nd Birthday and Italian Pasta Salad

Our oldest little man turned 2 last week! I still can’t believe it myself. He is such a sweet boy and we are beyond blessed to have him in our lives. We had a little party to celebrate, just our immediate families and a few close friends. Ricky had a blast being the center of attention and everyone enjoyed watching him play, open presents, and of course- eat cake!

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We made sure all of the food was Ricky-friendly (i.e. nut free, egg free, dairy free) so no one would have to worry about smooching him or playing with him on his big day.Food allergy friendly party menus are not the easiest to create. You want everyone to enjoy the food (and not just “this is pretty good for being allergy food” enjoy it) but make sure it is 100% safe. Here is what we came up with for a nut free, egg free, dairy free dinner menu to serve ~25 people.

Appetizers:

Entre/Sides:

  • BBQ chicken on the grill (just chicken breasts slathered with some Sweet Baby Ray’s
  • Italian Sausage (be cautious of the buns used, not all are dairy free)
  • Applegate Beef Hot Dogs
  • Italian Pasta Salad (see recipe below)
  • Fruit Salad

Dessert:

Everything turned out great! The Italian Pasta Salad is a recipe of my MIL’s and I’m so glad she shared it! Most pasta salads contain dairy or Miracle Whip (i.e. eggs), so it is wonderful to have one that is completely safe for Ricky but still has lots of flavor!

Italian Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 box spiral noodles (we use Ronzoni Smart Taste)
  • 1 bottle Italian Dressing
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 package pepperoni, cut into halves (watch for dairy. we used Hormel)
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • Seasoning: This recipe originally used McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning, but since that contains dairy, we mixed up our own! There are no exact measurements, use each according to your taste!
    • Salt, Sesame Seed, Poppy Seed, Paprika, Garlic, Black Pepper, and Red Pepper

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to box
  • Cut up veggies and pepperoni and toss with the pasta
  • Mix seasoning into Italian dressing
  • Stir dressing mixture into pasta and veggies
  • Enjoy!

Stuffed Pepper Soup and Sick Days

I know I’m not the only one LOVING this cooler weather! Bring on the sweaters, soups and cider! My sweet, sweet husband surprised me with my favorite orchard’s cider and donuts yesterday- what a guy!

We’ve been fighting through a cold this week, even poor little Raymond is stuffed up with a little cough. Sick babies are just the worst, followed closely by tired, stuffy toddlers. I decided to ignore our normal rule about tv limits yesterday and lean into a full-blown, loungy, pajama-wearing, couch day. The best thing to end a sick day is homemade soup.

Poor sick kiddo- no better cure than zoning out to some Doc McStuffins!

Poor sick kiddo- no better cure than zoning out to some Doc McStuffins!

Thank you Solly Baby for helping me out once again! Our littlest man has been stuffy and did not want to be laid down , so baby wearing was the best solution in order to actually accomplish something around the house. Not to mention, I loved snuggling him close to me knowing he wasn’t feeling his best, while still being able to make soup for my other sick baby.

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Now, onto the recipe! This was a hit with the whole family. I’m always looking for ways to get Ricky to eat more protein and this definitely fit the bill!

Stuffed pepper soup

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 cup rice (cooked)

Directions

  • Brown beef and onions over medium heat
  • Add beef, onions and remaining ingredients (EXCEPT RICE) into crockpot
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours
  • When there is 30 minutes remaining, stir in cooked rice
  • Enjoy!

Bowl of stuffed pepper soup

Honey Mustard Chicken

We are weeks away from Baby #2’s arrival and I am counting down! I am in no hurry for my time devoted solely to Ricky to be over, but I am definitely ready to meet the squirmy baby in my belly. Not to mention it will be really nice to bend over to put shoes one without feeling out of breath- thank goodness it is sandal weather!

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately, leaning a lot on my dear husband’s love of grilling. Let’s be honest though, grilling recipes are not usually worth sharing since most people tend to grill similarly and unless you have a secret rub or sauce you’ve created. Grilling is all about cook time and technique, which as I’ve mentioned, is Karl’s area of expertise, not mine.

BUT, I finally forced myself out of what I like to call the “last month of pregnancy funk” and tried something new- Honey Mustard Chicken. My recipe is modified slightly from this original. Karl is a fan of honey mustard in general, so this recipe was a big hit!

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then place your chicken in a lightly greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine mustard, honey, and remaining seasoning in a small bowl.
Honey mustard chicken glaze

Next cover the chicken with HALF of the glaze mixture and bake for 30 minutes.
Glazed honey mustard chicken

Remove from oven, flip chicken and cover with the remaining glaze. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Enjoy!
Honey mustard chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken

Ingredients

– 1.5 lbs chicken breast
– 1/2 cup dijon mustard
– 1/4 cup honey (+2 Tbs if you like things a bit sweeter)
– 1 tsp basil
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp parsley
– salt and pepper to taste

Directions

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees
– Place chicken breasts (half if large) in a lightly greased 9×13 pan
– Lightly salt and pepper chicken (optional)
– Mix mustard, honey, basil, paprika and parsley in a small bowl
– Pour half of this mixture over the chicken and brush to cover chicken
– Bake chicken for 30 minutes
– Remove from oven, turn chicken over and cover with the remaining sauce mixture
– Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink

This would be delicious served over rice or alone with sides!

Honey Balsamic Chicken Strips and Vacation Hopes

Happy Wednesday! This week we are in preparation mode for an upcoming family vacation with Karl’s extended family. Karl and I really struggled with the decision to attend the vacation this year. It is an annual trip and one of our favorite weeks of the year- we love his family and love spending time with them. That being said, as most allergy parents know, vacations are stressful when traveling with a food allergic child. There are extra dangers when you’re outside of your normal surroundings and in our case, we have to pack all of Ricky’s food because there is no guarantee we’ll be able to find his normal non-dairy, non-soy, non-egg, no-nut options where we are going. I don’t really mind packing the food since we’ll be driving and have enough room for a cooler, what scares me more is the potential for contact with his allergens once we arrive. The family all stays in one big retreat center, cooks in a big kitchen and eats together in a big dining hall. One obvious solution is to just stay away from those areas, which we will, but I also don’t want to entirely isolate my son from everyone. It is the family’s vacation and I fully expect everyone to be snacking all day, and understandably, not washing their hands after every time they eat. This means that I have to be extra on-guard when someone wants to play with Ricky as well as extra cautious about what toys he plays with. After MUCH deliberation, we decided to give it a shot with the flexibility of coming home early if there is more stress than fun. I’m hoping that lots of preparation and the support of immediate family members helps to make this vacation feel like a real vacation instead of a very nerve-wracking trial run for travel. Fingers crossed that when we return I can report back that the trip was amazing and there were no mishaps! Oh, and I’m also 35 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow, so let’s hope I don’t go into labor early 🙂

As promised- another delicious freezer meal!

Honey Balsamic Chicken Strips

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

  • Mix balsamic, minced garlic, olive oil, honey and a bit of salt and pepper (to taste) in a ziploc bag.
  • Slice the raw chicken breasts into ~1 inch strips. Add the chicken to the ziploc bag and marinate for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • When done marinating, empty the chicken and marinade into a 9×13 baking dish and bake for 35-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

Note- to freeze, simply mix all the ingredients per directions in the ziploc bag and freeze until ready to cook.