Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Egg Free Cookie cake

Life has been full of changes for us these past 6 months.  My hubs got a new job in a different state and we've been busy making that transition. Selling our house, packing our things, changing schools, finding a new place to live...  I pretty sure I don't ever want to move again in my life!  We're settled for the most part now.  It's been a lot of work.

A couple of months ago, we celebrated my youngest 2nd birthday. (She's TWO already!)  She's not a fan of cake, in fact, she's not really a fan of normal-people-food. I wanted to have a treat for her birthday that she would enjoy, and I wasn't exactly keen on the idea of serving graham crackers. One things she does love is chocolate chip cookies.  Smart girl. So when I saw this recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe for a skillet cookie, I decided to top it with some chocolate frosting and sprinkles and call it a birthday cake!  The recipe is already egg free. It's basically the recipe for cream cheese egg free chocolate chip cookies, with the addition of some cornstarch for softness and baked in a pan rather than scooping into individual portions. The original recipe had the dough baked in a cast iron skillet, but I just used a round cake pan.  It was a success!


 

Egg Free Cookie Cake
From Mel's Kitchen Cafe, slightly adapted by Egg Free Bakery

4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
8 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt 
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream softened cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until well combined and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract.  Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Mix until combined.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into a greased 8 or 9 inch cake pan.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until desired doneness.  Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool.  Once cookie is mostly cool, run a knife around the edge of cake pan to loosen, then carefully flip the pan over onto a plate to release the cookie.  Make sure it is cooled completely before decorating.

Frosting:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter and stir in cocoa powder.  Alternately beat in powdered sugar and milk.  Mix in vanilla and beat until spreading consistency.

To decorate, pipe frosting around the edges and center and sprinkle with sprinkles!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chicken Salad (with apples and celery)

I thought I'd share another chicken salad recipe a la my friend Lisa, who introduced me to the Avocado Chicken Salad already on my site. (One of my faves!) 


Lisa is one of those friends that we won't see each other for months, and when we do get together it's like no time has passed and we can pick up right where we left off. I love having friends like that! 

We used to get our kids together when they were littler every week for a play date, lunch and craft. I always enjoyed having lunch at Lisa's house. She's made this chicken salad for me several times and I love it! She doesn't really have a recipe, she just kind of eyeballs everything. So feel free to change it up the way you like. She uses mayonnaise, but to make it egg free I used sour cream. Yogurt could be another option too. Enjoy!


Chicken Salad (with apples and celery)
From Egg Free Bakery

1 12.5 oz can chicken
About half of a small apple, diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
Sunflower seeds, optional
1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt plus more to taste 
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Kosher salt to taste

Combine everything in a bowl and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust proportions ( ex more salt or sour cream etc) according to preference. Serve with crackers or in a pita or however else you like. Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our Food Allergy Story: Part 3: Conclusion

Since Logan was 4 years old we have had him tested yearly for his food allergies.  I still clung to a hope that he would outgrow some of them.  I'd be holding my breath and crossing my fingers each time we went in, only to be let down.  We discovered one more mild allergy to tomato.  I've come to accept that he is not going to grow out of his food allergies, but we've finally figured out a groove in how to manage his allergies.

In some ways, the older he has gotten, the easier it has been to manage his food allergies.  It has also presented new challenges to.  It's nice that he is now old enough to understand that he has food allergies and he can advocate for himself.  He can tell his teachers and other adults who take care of him "I can't have that."  This has been a huge stress reliever for me!  I've had several adults comment to me how impressed they have been with his knowledge of his food allergies and being able to speak up for himself.  


But again with age we've also encountered new challenges.  Starting school and getting involved in activities and trying to fit in with his peers.  He has become more aware of these things but if it bothers him, he doesn't show it.  Sometimes we have conversations about how "he wishes he didn't have food allergies" but most of the time he just rolls with it and I try my best to provide treats and experiences so that he is not missing out.

I often think about what his life will be as he becomes a teenager and moves out onto his own.  We will definitely have challenges unique to those ages that we will have to learn to deal with (like dating?)  TOO soon.  We'll figure that one out LATER.  One thing we are working on NOW is learning how to cook.  I will not always be there to cook for him.  So I've been letting him help me in the kitchen, teaching him how to make his favorite dishes.  Hopefully he will know enough by the time he is out on his own.  As he has been learning to read, I'm also teaching him about reading food labels and I also plan to teach him about calling food companies if he is unsure about something.


This is our story.  It's been a huge learning experience and is a big part of our lives and who we are.   I hope our story will help someone in some way.  To know that there are hundreds of other people going through this, and that you aren't alone.  To know it's only natural that you are a mega helicopter mom.  To know that at times it's so frustrating and scary and overwhelming and also to know that it does get easier and eventually it will just become part of you and it won't feel like as much of a burden as it does at first.


Q&A:  From perspective of Food Allergic Child:

What is your favorite foods?
 Hershey's Chocolate Bars, Macaroni & Cheese, Cheese Quesadillas and more cheese!

What's it like having food allergies?
Sometimes good and sometimes bad
  
What don't you like about having food allergies?
 That I can't eat stuff that people say are good like eggs and other types of candy bars that have nuts in them.

Is there anything you do like about having food allergies?
I can handle it, that's the good thing.  I'm always safe about the things I eat.  And I'm not allergic to dairy!  I get my own space and table at lunch.  It gets so crazy and loud if you sit at a regular table at lunch.  I like how it is peaceful and quiet at my table.

What advice would you give someone who has just found out about their food allergies?
I would tell them it's ok.  I would teach them how to handle their allergies by not eating stuff that has their allergens in it.  For example, if someone was allergic to peanut butter, um, I could tell them how to handle it because I know how to because I've had allergic reactions before and it's mostly like bad.

How do you handle your allergies?
I handle them really easily by not eating the stuff that I'm allergic to or going near them or even smelling them. I've had them my whole entire life.  So I've had a lot of experience with it.

Do people ever tease your about your allergies?
No, never.  Not one bit!

Would you ever want to do immunotherapy (where they give you a little bit of what your are allergic to until you can have it) for your allergies?
Uh.. maybe.






Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Our Food Allergy Story: Part 2

Over the next few years we did our best to have Logan avoid peanuts and eggs.  The older he got, I began wanting to have the experience of making cookies with him.  I wanted him to be able to enjoy pancakes with us on a Saturday morning.  So my search for egg free recipes began.  My first few attempts were....bad.  So bad that nobody, even Logan, cared to eat them.  Some of my early successes included soft sugar cookies and an apple cake.  It was such an amazing feeling to be able to see my son enjoy a treat that was safe for him!  I felt so victorious!

We had other hurdles than just on the home front.  Another one of Logan's major reactions occurred when he was about 2-1/2 years old.  We had informed his nursery leaders at church of his allergies and they were always so careful.  One time, though, they were feeding the kids something that had peanut butter and gave some to Logan to, only to remember a split second to late as he took a little nibble.  Immediately he started swelling, followed by vomiting.  We rushed home to get him some Bendryl.  That reaction, honestly, scared me quite a bit.  It was so quick and and was a lot worse than some of the reactions we had had in the past.  I then learned to ALWAYS carry my Benadryl and Epi Pen with us.  EVERYWHERE.

We also found out about this time that he had cold-induced asthma.  Can you blame a momma for wanting to wrap her little guy up in bubble wrap?

 
Fast forward to when Logan was 4 years old.  We found out about the rest of his food allergies.  I had made dinner one night: chicken strips with a coating of mustard and bread crumbs and a side of edamame.  He was tired that night and was fighting dinner.  Suddenly he began coughing very strangely, sort of high-pitched.  I was not quite sure what to think of it.  Then I noticed that his lips seemed to be swelling.  Then he started throwing up.  I quickly gave him some Benadryl and I watched him.  And I watched the clock waiting for any sign of improvement.  He was not improving!  He also seemed to be "out of it" and I had this feeling, I knew, that I needed to give him his Epi-Pen.  The words of our allergiest kept running through my mind "It's just medicine that will stop an allergic reaction dead in it's tracks."  So I told my hubs to call 911 and with assurance beyond my own I gave him his Epi-Pen.  Within seconds he began to perk up.  He was excited to hear the sirens of the ambulance coming (he loved fire trucks!)  Then he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said "Mommy, you smashed my leg!"  Talk about break my heart!  I tried to explain it was to make him feel better.  The paramedics recommended he be taken to the hospital to be monitored because the symptoms of an allergic reaction can return after the Benadryl wears off.  How many 4 year olds can say they've ridden in an ambulance??  Though he was asleep for most of it.  Fortunately there were no further complications that night.

We followed up with our allergist and through a more thorough and detailed blood work up we discovered his allergies to tree nuts, soy protein, mustard and ALL legumes (peas, green beans, black & kidney beans etc).

After that I really went into lock down mode as I tried to figure out what to feed my family!  Mustard was the hardest one for me.  Because it is not one of the top 8 allergens in the United States, food companies don't have to label for it and is often hidden under "spices" or "flavorings".  I did some research and found mustard is commonly used in some processed meats and cheese, sauces and condiments and salad dressings.

Read Part 3: Conclusion next week

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Our Food Allergy Story: Part 1

I thought I would describe in more detail our food allergy story in hopes that maybe it will help someone out there who is going through the same things as we have gone through.

I can't believe that is has been 8 years since I had my son Logan.  I thought I had it all figured out before I had kids.  I knew how I was going to parent.  I had worked in daycare, so I was pretty much an expert on everything.  Boy was I wrong!  Logan was a fussy, difficult, colicky baby.  Those first few months were really rough!  I thought the days of rocking and shushing would never end!  Breastfeeding was not going well either and I ended up weaning him at about 8 weeks old.  

While Logan was a baby I often noticed his skin would get frequent rashes, especially in the creases of his elbows and knees.  He would often get bad diaper rash too.  The doctors just gave me lotions for it, never diagnosing it for what is really was: eczema.  Logan also frequently spit up... even beyond the "normal spit up phase".  All these things, in retrospect, I now wonder if they had something to do with his food allergies.

On his first birthday we let him dig into his chocolate birthday cake, took pictures while he got all messy.  Shortly afterwards, he threw up.  What?  Was he getting sick?  He seemed fine!

At 14 months he attended a small on-site daycare at my work.  For snack they gave the kids peanut butter toast.  The girl on daycare duty phoned me and informed me that Logan was throwing up and his face was getting red.  So I rushed down and called his doctor.  After a dose of Benadryl and a few hours later, the facial swelling went down and he was fine.  That's when we first figured out that he was allergic to peanuts.

Logan at 16 months old
 The next few months we avoided peanuts, but he still had really really bad eczema and every so often he would throw up after a meal.  We finally got him tested at 18 months per our doctor's referral and discovered he was allergic to eggs as well.  That explained the birthday cake.

Our doctor also prescribed us an Epi-Pen, which as a young, inexperienced mom really freaked me out!  I had no idea that food allergies could be so serious.  Life threatening!  I had never known anyone who had food allergies before so this was all new information to me.  It was so overwhelming!  But I clung to a hope that he would grow out of it.  I was told there was a chance and I hoped and hoped he would be one of the ones who outgrew his food allergies.

My little family in 2008
Read Part 2 Next week

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello all!  It's the beginning of a New Year and with that comes GOALS, right?  I know there are mixed feelings out there about New Year Resolutions.  Some say "what's the point?  I never keep them." Others say "we shouldn't wait until New Years to make goals and changes."  While I agree with the latter point, I still like to take time every New Years to evaluate my life and make resolutions.  

Two resolutions I have made are to eat healthy and maximize the time I spend in the kitchen by bulk baking and weekly food prep.  

One of the reasons I haven't posted very many new recipes lately is because I am cutting WAY back on sugar.  I've come to realize how much sugar I am actually eating every day (think added sugar in cereals, milk, yogurt etc)  I've had some minor health complaints that I believe may be connected to how much sugar is in my diet.  So I'm trying a little experiment and cutting back.  I'm not COMPLETELY cutting it out, because, let's be real here, everyone loves a sweet treat every now and then.  I'm focusing on eating real foods and adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet.

In order to reach this first goal, though, I need my second goal.  I read about bulk baking and weekly food prep on blogs, and I make plans in my head and write down lists. I have done bulk baking for short periods of time... but then for some reason or another I revert back to my old habits.  I want to make this apart of my lifestyle.  Being a busy mom of three little kids, I don't have time to be cooking and baking all the time.  This is something I should already be doing.  It'll save me so much time!

So I ran my first experiment with weekly food prep this week.  Last night I made a double batch of baked oatmeal, and portioned them into muffins tins for the kiddos.  I assembled fruit and yogurt into mason jars for quick grab and go parfaits.  I made a big batch of chicken salad and divided it into portion sized containers for the hub's lunches.  I also made a double batch of whole wheat tortillas to store in the freezer.  Lastly, I portioned out canned fruit into smaller tupperware for the kids' school lunches.  All that, including dishes took me a little over an hour.  Not that bad.  I usually like to slice some cheese also to make sandwiches easier to assemble. Sunday I chopped up a whole bag of carrots and to my surprise, they were GONE by Tuesday!  If it's ready to go, we really will eat it!  And that is encouraging to me.  I hoping that I can keep this up!

I also wanted to share with you a recipe find that has been a favorite of mine from 100 days of real food:  Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad.  This is the chicken salad that I made this week.  It uses sour cream instead of the traditional mayonnaise found in chicken salads making this one egg free!  And it uses ingredients that I usually have on hand which is a bonus.  So head over there for the recipe and have a happy new year!

Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad from 100 Days of #RealFood #chicken





Thursday, November 19, 2015

Egg Free Sugar Cookies with Egg Free Icing


SHH!  It's not too early for Christmas. Usually I am a stickler to my "no-christmas-until-after-thanksgiving" rule, but for the first time, like ever, I cheated.  I've been listening to Christmas music now and then (my kids made me do it!) and I maybe already have my Christmas shopping done and if I thought my hubs would be down for it, I probably would have the tree set up by now.  But alas, that will wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but have I ever been in the Christmas mood!  Bring it on!

My goal this year was to have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving so that I would actually be able to ENJOY the season instead of rushing around everywhere. (And I did it!  Whoop!) So I fully intend to soak up every minute and memory this holiday. Decorating our tree, watching classic Christmas music, viewing nativities, attending school holiday programs and parties, drinking hot cocoa and looking at lights. It's going to be great! Plus this may be my last year before my oldest catches on to the whole Santa thing... (*tears*)  He's figured out the tooth fairy.  He seemed to think he was pretty clever that he figured out the Easter Bunny too, but he said "Santa is real though right mom?"  

mmm-hmm yep.  It's only a matter of time.  Sad day.

Anyway,

What's Christmas without sugar cookies?  They are a holiday must have!  This sugar cookie recipe differs from my other recipe (which is my fave!).  These are buttery, melt-in-your mouth sugar cookies with a thin glaze of icing that hardens as it dries making these ideal for stacking and ideal for gift giving.

 

Egg Free Sugar Cookies with Egg Free Icing
Adapted Egg Free by Egg Free Bakery, other sources include Our Best Bites & In Katrina's Kitchen 

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add vanilla and milk.  Gradually add flour and baking powder. You may need to remove dough from stand mixer and mix by hand if the dough gets too stiff.  Form the dough into a smooth ball.  (No need to chill the dough) On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into shapes using floured cookies cutters.  Transfer to ungreased baking sheet.  Bake about 8 minutes, give or take a couple of minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before removing from a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing 
1 lb powdered sugar
6 Tbsp milk 
6 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until it is completely smooth.  Then stir in the corn syrup and the vanilla extract. It should be smooth and thin and run off your whisk in a thin drizzle.  This is the right consistency for just spreading it on your cookies.  If you want to add a border and then fill it, like I did in my Christmas cookies pictured above, you'll need to add more powdered sugar to thicken it a bit.  This is just the base recipe.  Check out the link to Our Best Bites.  They provide a fantastic tutorial using this icing and how to decorate sugar cookies.  (Way better than I could try to re-explain!)