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. 

Meatballs- the more kid-friendly version of meatloaf

I hate meatloaf. Despise. I just don’t think meat should ever be in loaf form. I realize this might be a bit juvenile, but the idea and consistency just freak me out. I have a distinct memory of coming home for a visit freshmen year of college only to find that my mother had made meatloaf for dinner. I nearly lost it- I was grumpy and wanted to cry because at 18 being away from home and having crappy cafeteria food all the time (and I mean crappy- I love my school, but it was certainly not known for it’s cuisine) is really tough. I had been thinking about my mom’s cooking all week and she knew I hated meatloaf! What a travesty! My mother now has it written boldly in her cookbook next to the meatloaf recipe- “Melissa hates this.” Her doing, not mine! I have not had meatloaf since and although I’m not proud of it, at least my college tantrum got me some results.

Oddly enough, meatballs, although usually very similar, don’t bother me nearly as much. They are a great way to make beef that is easy for little fingers to pick up. This is a quick recipe that takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 20-25 minutes to cook- perfect for a weeknight meal!

Meatball ingredients

Start by combining your beef with all your seasonings and Worcestershire sauce in a medium mixing bowl. Once well blended, stir in your allergy friendly breadcrumbs and coconut milk.

meatball mixture

Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Uncooked meatballs

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until no longer pink.

Allergy friendly meatballs

Allergy Friendly Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • Optional- dash of hot sauce (I omit this since the meatballs already have a little kick and we aren’t huge on spice)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup safe seasoned breadcrumbs (I used Ian’s Italian Panko Breadcrumbs)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine beef, seasonings and Worcestershire sauce. Once blended well, add milk and breadcrumbs, stir to combine.
  • Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs and place onto an ungreased baking sheet
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or no longer pink in the center