Completely Allergy Friendly and Actually Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I mentioned this a while back, but my niece is gluten free. My extended family has been making a considerable effort to make all meals safe for both my niece and Ricky. For those of you keeping track, that means free of gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Yup, it’s a lot. Lucky for us, my sister is a great cook and I do my best to keep up:-) So, we have started compiling a list of apps, entrees, sides and desserts that are safe for the whole family and I’m going to share them here as well. In an effort to start off with a bang, the first recipe up is a chocolate chip recipe free of the top 8 allergens! That is a big flipping deal guys!

We started with both of our favorite chocolate chip recipe, the much revered Nieman Marcus chocolate chip recipe, and tweaked it until it was safe and tasted just as delicious as the original. No, I am not just saying that, it is actually just as good as the original recipe! My family is not exactly the kindest of critics when it comes to food, and they all approved! I’m going to give you both the non-gluten free and gluten free options, just to cover all our bases.

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Top 8 Safe Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dairy-free butter at room temp (we use Blue Bonnet Lactose Free sticks, Earth Balance Dairy-Free, Soy-Free is a great options as well)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour*
  • 2.5 cups blended oatmeal**
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 8-10 oz Enjoy Life chocolate chips (This depends on your taste, I like a little less chocolate in my cookies…don’t judge me)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix your flax eggs and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars
  • Mix in the flax eggs and vanilla
  • In a seperate bowl, combine flour (and xanthum gum if using), blended oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture into butter/egg mixture. Once fully blended, stir in chocolate chips.***
  • Roll dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Enjoy and try not to eat all of these in one sitting!

*If gluten free, use 2 cups  King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Flour and 1 tsp xanthum gum
** Place rolled oats in a food processor and blend until it is a fine powder
*** Suggestion: refrigerate dough for ~30 minutes (or longer) prior to rolling into balls. The dough is much easier to work with when it is cold

Nut Free Tiger’s Game

Our family went to a Tiger’s game a couple weeks back (delayed post, I know) and had an absolutely amazing time! The Tiger’s offer a “Peanut Friendly” game one weekend every year. They clean a few suites and sell tickets with special accommodations for families with nut allergies. Isn’t that wonderful? For those of you who have never been and are curious, here is the run down. The seats are all located in one of three suites that are thoroughly cleaned prior to the game. The suites are all open to each other and there are no assigned seats, so you can walk around and swap seats once you’re inside. They do offer food for purchase, but none with peanuts or tree nuts. Unfortunately for those of us with dairy allergies, there was lots of pizza in the area. You were also welcome to bring in your own food/drink, but they asked parents to not pack anything that could cause an allergic reaction, including nuts, dairy and eggs. The tickets include entrance through the Tiger’s Garage, which is typically reserved for season ticket holders. This was an especially nice touch for those individuals who want to avoid the concourse entirely. The event coordinator was extremely competent and helpful- we will definitely be taking advantage of these nut free games in the future!

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We were so excited to take Raymond, and especially Ricky, to their first Tiger’s game. Raymond was a champ the whole time- just such a happy camper hanging out in the Solly wrap. Ricky had a blast! He was so excited the whole time and really enjoyed all the sights. We were comfortable walking through the concourse, but carried him the whole time since the ground is covered in peanut shells. His favorite parts were definitely meeting Paws and riding the carousal. Paws told Ricky (with hand motions, obviously) that he liked his sweatshirt and Ricky was pretty darn pumped about it. I was nervous leading up to the game, but I am so glad we went outside of our box. We were definitely cautious the entire time, eating only our own snacks and wiping down surfaces outside of the suite (I’m talking to you tiger carousal parked right in the middle of the food court and no doubt licked by some child after eating ice cream). Ricky’s face and excitement made it all worth it and it really was the best family day!

Baked Milk Challenge: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ricky’s taste buds change faster than any human I know. It is insane. Example: I bought clementines for him to try this past winter because the previous year he had been a big fan. He tried them twice and spit them out both times- just not happening. Then he visited my sister’s house about a month later and ate an entire clementine, all the while chirping about how delicious it was! So, of course I go to the store and buy more for our house. Two days later, he hates them again. wth. It is annoying with clementines, but it is absolutely infuriating when it happens with milk muffins. I usually make a double batch of baked dairy muffins and freeze them, because they are such a pain to make. I’m sure you all understand- when cooking with something your little one is allergic to, you try to be as cautious as possible! I only make them when Ricky is sleeping, then scour the kitchen afterwards to make sure no dairy got anywhere. Gotta love food challenges. So, when I have 24 muffins in the freezer is not the best time for Ricky to decide he no longer likes a certain flavor. Lucky for me, I have found the winner. He has yet to get sick of these and I suspect it is due to the chocolate chips. That kid will eat anything if you put chocolate chips in it… I wonder where he comes from 😉

My Banana Chocolate Chip muffin recipe is modified from this original. I like to think that the whole wheat flour balances out the chocolate chips in the health spectrum.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  •  1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • ~1 Tbs granulated sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. Make flax egg and set aside. Mash bananas. 
  • Combine bananas, brown sugar, milk, oil and flax egg in a large bowl- beat well. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt just until incorporated (don’t over mix). Add Enjoy Life chocolate chips.
  • Grease muffin cups or place muffin liners into pan. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle each with ~1/4 teaspoon sugar.
  • Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan and cool on rack.
  • Enjoy!

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!

Baked Milk Challenge: Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Raymond is 6 weeks this Thursday! We’re finding a rhythm around here and loving our little family of four. It is definitely busier than usual, but I’m already past the zombie stage, which seemed to last a good 3 months with Ricky! We had a great weekend relaxing and spending some much needed family time. With Ricky’s 2nd birthday party last weekend and Raymond’s baptism next weekend, we knew we needed a little break in the middle.

Saturday snuggles- talk about a nice, lazy weekend.

Saturday snuggles- talk about a nice, lazy weekend.

The biggest highlight of the weekend though was finding out two of our closest friends got engaged! WAHOO! We are so thrilled for them and can’t wait to watch as they start their lives together. Now on to the recipe…

Blueberry breakfast cake ingredients Blueberry breakfast cake batter

On top of having a new little baby to snuggle, I’ve been trying to bake on a regular basis for Ricky’s baked milk challenge. This kid loves food, but he also knows exactly what he likes and what he doesn’t like. One of the worst things- finding and making a new recipe that fits within the baked dairy challenge only to have him not eat it. The worst. This delicious blueberry “breakfast” cake did not fall into that category, though – YUM! I almost didn’t want to share it with the toddler or husband. The recipe is altered from this original.

Baked dairy challenge - breakfast blueberry cake

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbs ground flax, 3 Tbs water)
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • Zest from 1 large lemon
  • 7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk (made with a scant 1/2 milk combined with 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar)

*7/8 cup= 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs
** Save for sprinkling on top

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and make flax egg, set aside for at least 5 minutes
  • Combine butter, lemon zest and 7/8 cup sugar- mix until light and fluffy
  • Add flax egg and vanilla, beat well until fully combined.
  • Toss blueberries with 1/4 cup of flour
  • In a seperate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk
  • When fully combined, gently fold in the blueberries.
  • Spread batter into a greased, square 9 inch pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Another baked milk challenge recipe: Pumpkin Zucchini Bread (with chocolate chips!)

Caution: Contains Soy (but no dairy, egg, or nuts)

If you read last post, you know that Ricky is officially not allergic to soy! YAY! Super exciting, happy dance! Soy was by far the sneakiest of all Ricky’s food allergies- most people have no concept of just how many foods (especially processed foods) contain soy.

We made a grocery trip post-food trial/super exciting news and man, did it blow our minds. Karl and I were both shocked at how much this opened up for Ricky-safe food possibilities. These new options also tend to be far less expensive than the soy-free versions we were purchasing previously. This switch is going to drastically lower our grocery bill, wahoo! So, for those of you who can eat soy but not dairy, egg or nuts, I put together a list of some excellent food options! You’ve probably already been on to these for a while, but just in case, here goes!

Oreos!

OREOS! I could stop the list there, but I won’t.

Foods that Contain Soy, but are Dairy, Egg and Nut Free

Contains Soy (dairy free, egg free, nut free)

– Honey Maid Grahams: We love graham crackers in our house, but it was a problem when my husband would knock back half a box of Back to Nature grahams in one sitting. Those things aren’t cheap! So, I think Karl may be even more excited than Ricky about being able to have “regular” graham crackers in the house again so he can eat as many as he wants!
– Pillsbury Crescent Rolls: These are a staple at a lot of family gatherings, so being able to offer Ricky something from the table that everyone else is enjoying is a big deal!  
– Flour Tortillas: While Ricky may not start eating these right away, I think this will be extremely helpful in the future! Tacos is one of my favorite meals and it certainly will be helpful to be able to serve Ricky’s taco the same way as everyone else’s rather than deconstructed like he gets now. These will also be great for lunch meat roll-ups when he gets a little older!
– Oreos: Because this deserves two mentions. Yum.
– Soy yogurt: Duh, right? Worth a mention though because these are far more easily accessible than coconut yogurt plus have more flavor options!
– Margarine: Country Crock is my brand of choice, for no reason other than familiarity. Regular old margarine is a whole lot cheaper than Soy-Free, Dairy- Free Earth Balance Spread. I still won’t knock the Earth Balance because they are a wonderful brand, but it will be nice to switch it up for a less expensive option.
Ritz and Wheat Thin Crackers: Again, while I was very appreciative to have completely allergy-safe Back to Nature brand it will be nice to spend about 50% less on alternative crackers
Frozen french fries and tater tots: WHAT?! This is amazing. I’m sorry, but sometimes cooking a full blown, fresh from the garden meal just doesn’t happen around here. I try to make sure my family eats well, but occasionally I just want to throw some hot dogs on the grill and french fries in the oven and now that is finally a realistic option! Again, I’m not promoting eating like this all the time, but especially since a new baby is going to be joining us soon, it’ll be nice to have an easy option every once in a while.
Frozen waffles: Ricky has never had waffles. Even my vegan pancakes have been a bit of a flop (see what I did there?). Breakfast has always been one of the hardest meals of the day because of his allergies- there just aren’t a lot of good egg, dairy and soy free breakfast foods out there! I am so excited to add waffles into our regular rotation, especially since they are nice and easy.

These are just some of the options I’ve found- I’m sure there are many more out there, not to mention lots of new recipes to try. Teriyaki chicken is one of my old go-to meals that hasn’t been made since Ricky’s allergies were diagnosed, but will be coming to a blog near you very soon!