Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipes that didn't make the cut......

Frustration is spending so much time trying out a new recipe to find that you either hate it or it's just so bland and boring and not worth ever making again.  It can look so good, smell so good, and taste so very mediocre.  Here are my latest recipes that did not make the cut.............








You just might see them again if I can improve on them.  Back to the drawing board (or the cutting board!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Allergy Free Taquitos

This is not a recipe, a real recipe any way.  It's more of a "how to" tutorial I guess.   
So, here's how to make some allergy free taquitos.  
My kids absolutely love them!  And yes, I love them too.


I don't know why it never occurred to me to make taquitos.  Of course, we can't buy the frozen ones (not that we'd want all the additives in those).  But why didn't I think to make them??

One day my hubby asked me to make taquitos.  He really wanted Mexican food.  So, I sent him to the store for some corn tortillas and I got out the ingredients.  When he got back, we started our experiment.  Making taquitos is a join effort in our house.  I roll 'em up and he fries 'em.  We are a pretty good team and we can get through an entire pack of corn tortillas in no time!

I've made both the beef and chicken varieties.  The kids love the beef version the best.

For the beef version, I brown 1 pound of ground beef (or bison).  Drain the meat, put it back in the skillet with a little water, and add taco seasoning.
I take 1 or 2 cans of pinto beans, wash and drain them, and put them in the food processor.
I add garlic, onion, and cumin to the beans.
Then I stir the beans into the meat.  I add a little beef broth so that the mixture is spreadable but still thick enough to stay inside the taquito without running out (that's a mess I'd rather not mop from the floor).

In a large skillet, I heat olive oil on medium high heat.
I microwave a few tortillas at a time with a damp paper towel on top.  This is a very important step-if you skip this one your tortillas will crack when you try to roll them.  You need them moist and pliable to roll up those taquitos.
I quickly spread a spoonful of the meat mixture in the middle of the tortilla, roll it up, and stick a toothpick all the way through.  The important word here is quickly-those tortillas are hot and they like to unroll right back.  Go fast!
Then I drop them quickly into the oil, seam side down.  I cook on both sides until each side is slightly browned.
Take them out of the oil and spread them out on a wire rack.  Then I salt mine and let them cool.  Actually, I try to let them cool.  But we often eat them as fast as we can make them.

For our chicken version, I shred cooked chicken and place it into a skillet with the pureed beans.  Then I add chicken broth and taco seasoning.

I make big batches of taquitos and freeze the leftovers on cookie sheets.  Then I put them in large ziplocs for another day.  You can reheat them on a cookie sheet at 350 until they are crispy again.

These are one of my favorite "junk food" meals, right after onion ringsThey are my go-to lunch when I've forgotten to make something for the kids (oops!).  I just pull them out of the freezer!

*If you can't have corn tortillas, you could use another tortilla or make rice flour tortillas. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why are my cookies green?

Here's a public service announcement from you, courtesy of one of my allergy mama friends:

When baking with sunbutter and baking soda, your baked goods can turn green!


Yes, they can!  It's a chemical reaction between the sunflower seeds and the baking soda.  You can go ahead and enjoy your baked goods if you can get past the crazy color.  But they would be perfect for St. Patrick's Day, right??



Monday, February 25, 2013

Allergy Free Maple Glazed Oatmeal Cookies

I told my hubby I was going to make oatmeal cookies.  He was not very excited.  But I made them anyway.  I grabbed one from the oven and handed it to him.  He took a bite and stood there for a few minutes.  All he said was, "Wow!" We have a winner!  .....And there's someone in my house who will no longer complain about oatmeal cookies.  He only ate about 10 of them today alone. 

These are yummy cookies that remind me of Christmas.  The blend of cinnamon and nutmeg with the maple frosting is perfection!  They are more on the crunchy side so I think the glaze is totally necessary.  Also, they are even better on the second day-they are a little softer.


Maple Glazed Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup Earth Balance, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp egg replacer whisked with 4 T original hemp milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 T baking powder
2 cups quick oats
2 cups flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum

Combine sugars and melted butter in large bowl.  Mix well.
Add in egg replacer and stir well.
Fold in remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until just blended.
Chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
Drop by spoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 12-13 minutes.
Cool on sheets for a few minutes before removing to wire rack. 


Maple Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8-1/4 cup vanilla hemp milk

Whisk together, starting with 1/8 cup vanilla hemp milk.  Add more milk only if needed.  Drizzle over cookies. 



Let glaze set up and harden before storing cookies.  It will take several hours.

Linked up with Real Food, Allergy Free!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bread Flour Blend

I've been using the bread flour blend from Cybele Pascal's baking book The Allergen free Baker's Handbook.  It's a great baking book and helped me venture into the overwhelming world of allergy free baking.

Bread Flour

1 1/2 cups millet flour
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

I use this for pizza crusts, breads, and rolls.  It's a little something different from the plain rice flour blends and gives the breads a little more texture.

If you can't have potato starch you could probably substitute arrowroot flour or even just use all tapioca flour.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Allergy Free Onion Rings

Ok, so this is not a recipe, but more of a product review.  So, I have a new endorsement.........

Have you tried this stuff - Hol-Grain Onion Ring Batter Mix?  If not, you should go buy some right now!  

I LOVE onion rings and I miss them!  There are no gluten free onion rings around here.  So, my sweet hubby said he would make me some.  They were awesome!  All four of the big kids loved them! 

Combine the batter mix with water and fry your rings!


They were so light and crispy and perfectly yummy.  The kids made Daddy promise to make them again.  Back to the store I go for more batter mix!!



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Allergy Friendly Spurs Basketball Game

So, the hubby got tickets to a Spurs game-box seats.  Awesome, right!?  Well, they serve lots of food in those boxes, not to mention all the yucky concession food floating around the seats.  I so wanted him to be able to take the big kids but was worried he would have to leave Bee behind.

I got on the phone and got in touch with the catering company who handles all the Spurs games.  I spoke with the manager who was amazingly nice and amazingly knowledgeable.  I was shocked!  He said they did gluten free events and were aware of food allergies.  He wrote down our list and wasn't the least bit phased by it.  He immediately called the chef and they met together to come up with some food for our kids.  I told them to keep it simple for the little people and they decided on some grilled chicken and rice with some steamed veggies.  He called me back later that day to confirm the menu and see if I had any extra questions.  It sounded perfect!  And did I mention that I only gave them a days notice?  They pulled it together in 1 day so that Bee could attend the game and have a snack.  Impressive!


When my hubby arrived with the kids, they were shown the separate area where their food was.  It was kept separate from any other food in the box.  There was also a sign that specified that it was allergy-free.  They reserved it just for us!


The kids loved the chicken and rice and snacked on it all through the first half.


They had great seats!


And the kids loved watching the game!

It was a perfect evening and the kids had a wonderful time at their first NBA basketball game.  They were so accommodating and understanding of the allergies.  I just might have to be a Spurs fan now............

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dairy Free Pasta-a la Hamburger Helper

While trying to figure out some easy weeknight meals, my hubby and I came up with our own version of hamburger helper.  I'm not exactly sure what to call this dish.  My kids call it "sea shells" since we normally serve it over rice noodle shells.  It's just a very quick and simple meal for when you don't have time to make a huge meal from scratch.  It's one of my kids' favorite meals.  Go figure!  I try to give 'em what they want!


Cheesy Shells
2 pounds ground beef or bison
3 - 4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
garlic powder
minced onion
rice milk
12 oz noodles, cooked

Brown the ground beef or bison and drain.
Sprinkle with taco seasoning and up to 1 cup water.
Simmer until most of water is absorbed.
Put beans, garlic powder, and minced onion in food processor.
Process, adding rice milk, until mixture is smooth.


Stir bean mixture into meat.
Add rice milk if needed to achieve desired consistency.  We like ours like a thick sauce (about the consistency of chili).
Add salt if needed.


Pour over noodles and serve.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Doctor Appointment, Asthma and Allergies

Ok, I haven't updated about our doctor experiences in a while.  I'm a little behind........a newborn will do that to you!


Well, we saw our immunologist back in November.  Our original appointment was scheduled for October but Bee got a cold, bronchitis, and the beginnings of pneumonia that month.  We were super super sick at our house!  So, we cancelled that appointment and rescheduled for early November.

I took Bee and Tiger to the appointment.  Tiger saw the pulmonary specialist.  Over the summer, a pediatrician had "diagnosed" Tiger with asthma.  He had several respiratory infections and lots of coughing.  But I didn't think he had asthma and I didn't want that in his records.  I didn't want endless doctors pushing daily meds on him when I didn't think he needed anything.  I wanted him evaluated by a specialist to see if he really had asthma.  I also wanted to know if he had some environmental allergies that were causing all the respiratory issues, so he saw our allergist/immunologist right after meeting with the pulmonary specialist.

The pulmonary specialist checked Tiger over and listened to my explanation of our summer sickness.  She said he was too young to do the official "asthma" test where you have to breathe into a machine.  She felt the results would not be accurate for him.  So, after listening to him and asking me dozens of questions about coughing, breathing, exercise, wheezing, and colds, she felt he did not have asthma at this point and should not be treated.  Yay!  Exactly what I thought!

Then he got to move into another room and wait for the allergist/immunologist.  That doctor came in and we discussed the information from the pulmonary specialist.  Then it was time for allergy testing.  They did an environmental panel all across his back.  I was so worried that we would be upset.  He was a trooper and the sticks didn't even phase him.  He just watched Mickey Mouse on the iPad.  We even had "child life specialists" in the room to help out-they are like super nanny and come equipped with fun toys to help you distract your child.  They spent the whole time blowing bubbles with Bee and Ladybug.  They had a blast!

We waited for the results of the allergy panel and I just knew that it would be negative.  Sure enough, he had little to no reaction to any of the allergens they tested him for.  They measured each spot on his back and the doctor brought the results in to discuss with us.  She didn't feel he had any significant allergies and thought that he had just had a rough summer with reoccurring respiratory infections.  He's clear!



Bee was next.  The doctor discussed all of her progress, checked her for eczema (she was clear!) and talked about her recent reactions.  There was not a whole lot of new info to give her.  Bee's not on any meds and only has an occasional bit of Cortizone cream when she has a rash and maybe an occasional Benadryl if she's really itchy.  Other than that, she takes no daily meds and only uses her inhaler in the few times that she's been sick and wheezing.  Our doctor was so pleased with her progress and thought we just needed to continue with what we were already doing.

But what about testing?  I love seeing Bee's numbers go down.  It gives me such hope.  So, we were expecting the doctor to order another round of testing.  No such luck.  She felt that most kids don't start showing significant improvement until after the age of 4 and actually closer to age 5.  Our doctor wanted to test Bee again in a year.  That's such a long time to wait!  She thought that all of Bee's allergies were still there-even if the numbers were lower.  I know the allergies are there too, but I still like seeing those numbers.  But I don't want to put Bee through testing unless there is a chance that something has significantly changed.  So, we agreed to wait on the testing until next year.  When we do the testing we'll do another RAST test to check her IgE levels.  We'll also do some skin testing for coffee, pineapples, coconuts, soy, and possibly eggs and bananas.



We're praying for great results in November!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Allergy Free Mediterranean Chicken and Lemon Soup

Here's a little twist on chicken and rice soup.  It's a chicken and lemon soup!  It's really light and creamy.  Perfect for a cool day!  It's now one of Curly's favorites!


 
Mediterranean Chicken and Lemon Soup
5 cups chicken broth  
1 cup rice
4 carrots, sliced thinly
1 package chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup thinly sliced (or diced) red bell pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp basil (we like lots of basil here)
12 oz evaporated milk (instructions below)
1-2 T cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste

Combine chicken broth through minced garlic in large pot and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for 30 minutes.

To make the evaporated milk, warm 24 ounces of rice milk over medium heat.  Be careful not to let it boil.  Let it reduce until it is only 12 ounces.  This takes a good 30 minutes or more.

Combine 1 T of cornstarch with 1 T of evaporated rice milk.  Whisk well.  Add to soup while it is simmering.  (If you want the soup thicker-add an additional 1 T of cornstarch mixed with another 1 T of evaporated milk).
Then slowly add in the rest of the evaporated milk.
Bring to just a boil while stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Linked up with Try a New Recipe Tuesday!
Linked up with Allergy Free Wednesdays! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Allergy Free Puppy Chow

Ok, this isn't really my recipe, I took it from the back of the Chex cereal box.  But I realized that we could make puppy chow (or muddy buddies) with lots of modifications.  I don't know why I never thought of it before!  So, just in time for Valentine's Day, Bee got to enjoy her very own snack of puppy chow.  We shared some of our snack with friends so I ended up making another batch today.  Yummy!



Puppy Chow
9 cups Rice Chex
1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/2 cup No Nut Butter
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Measure out the Rice Chex in large bowl and set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips, No Nut Butter, and Earth Balance for 1 minute in microwave.
Stir well.
Stir in the vanilla.
Pour over the Rice Chex and gently fold together to mix.
Pour half mixture in gallon sized ziploc with 1 cup powdered sugar.  Pour the other half of the mixture in another bag with 1 cup powdered sugar.
Shake well.

I make my kids sing along to this while they shake............



Tiger said, "Why does he sing in such a strange voice??  I can't understand him"
Ha!  I've always thought that myself!

Pour it onto cookie sheets or in cake pans to let cool.  Enjoy! 




Thursday, February 14, 2013

Allergy Free Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day from the Hive!

What are we doing for our day?

Well, there are lots of allergy free treats and sweets but this year we're doing something different.  Our kids are getting some new lego duplo sets and a new board game for family game night.  Of course, I'll bake them something fun too............




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Allergy Free Soft Pretzels

*This post is featured on Allergy Free Wednesdays and The Willing Cook!*
 
After months of asking, I finally made my hubby some pretzels.  I was so scared to even try!  It seemed so hard and I had no idea how to do the pretzel twist thingie.  I had never made pretzels-much less an allergy free version.  I was not ready for weeks of experimenting to find the perfect pretzel.  

Well, I found the perfect pretzel on the first try-how's that for lucky?  These pretzels put Auntie Anne's to shame!  They are so soft and chewy and wonderful!  I will never miss those mall pretzels again!



Soft Pretzels
1 package rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour blend
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup warm water
2 T olive oil

Combine yeast, honey, and warm water in mixing bowl and whisk well.  
Let proof for 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and mix with the dough hook.
Knead for 5-7 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray.  Turn dough to coat top evenly.
Let rise, covered, in a warm place for at least an hour or until doubled.  
Punch down and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 pieces.  
Roll each piece into a long string (20 inches or so) and form pretzel shape.  
Press ends lightly so the dough holds its shape.
Then it's time for a baking soda bath.
   
Baking Soda Bath
6 cups water
3 T baking soda
Salt for sprinkling

Whisk water and baking soda in a large skillet with at least 12 inch sides.
Bring water and baking soda to a boil over medium heat.
Put formed pretzels in baking soda bath and cook for 30 seconds on each side.
Turn with slotted spoon.
Drain with spoon and place pretzels on parchment lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle generously with salt.
Bake at 450 for 12-14 minutes, turning pretzels over halfway.
Cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!!!!


Linked up with Try a New Recipe Tuesdays!
Also linked with Allergy Free Wednesdays!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reactions to Gluten


Well, this gluten issue just seems to be exploding, doesn't it?    

Did you know there are four types of reactions to this protein?
The four reactions include celiac disease, allergy, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity.     
                        
One can be sensitive to gluten and still not even realize that this sensitivity could be the source of many health issues including headache, digestive issues, mouth sores, skin rashes, and fatigue (to name a few).

And, what's more, the diagnosis for gluten sensitivity is a clinical one because even testing for an immune response through antibody lab tests will not reveal sensitivity to gluten.  A person could experience months or more likely, years, of health concerns and a general feeling of being unwell, or be diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease).  Additionally, a patient might even be told the feeling of unwellness is just "in his or her head."

One must be willing to pursue that gluten could be the cause of any illness or health problem. 

Sometimes, an elimination diet is the only method for a person to determine if gluten causes a reaction.  Most people who completely eliminate gluten for a minimum of two months attest to an improvement in general well-being.

There is so much to be said about this tiny protein.  More exploration coming soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Allergy Free Lemon Bundt Cake

My kids love bundt cakes and they insist that they are breakfast foods.........what's wrong with a sugar high first thing in the morning?

Here's an easy lemon bundt cake that is very light and very lemony.  My kids loved it!


Allergy Free Lemon Bundt Cake
3 cups flour blend
3/4 teaspoon xanthan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free
1  1/2 cups sugar
4  1/2 teaspoons egg replacer whisked with 6 Tablespoons rice milk
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plain Coconut Greek style yogurt (one container)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease bundt pan.
Whisk together flour through salt and set aside. 
Cream Earth Balance and sugar in mixer. 
Add egg replacer mixture and mix well.
Add in lemon zest.
Next, alternate the flour with the lemon juice and the yogurt until well blended.
Pour into bundt pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on cooling rack.
Glaze when cool.

I used powdered sugar mixed with half rice milk/half lemon juice for the glaze because hubby thought there was enough lemon.  If it had been me, I would have used all lemon juice.

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon rice milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Allergy Free Cinnamon Crackers


I'm not sure Bee has ever actually eaten a cracker.  Most crackers contain gluten-that's a no go for us.  If they are gluten free then they have eggs or dairy.  If they are free of eggs and dairy then they have some type of nut or seed in them (sesame seeds anyone)?  Therefore, a safe cracker is impossible to find.  And for the couple times I've actually found something she can have-they taste horrible!  But we have found a new cracker that we can eat safely and it doesn't taste bad either.

We tried the Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps in Cinnamon and Sugar.  They taste a little like Cinnamon Toast Crunch with much less sugar.  They were crunchy with the right amount of cinnamon.  All 4 of my kids (minus the toothless baby) loved them.  My hubby and I both did a taste test and we agreed that they were pretty good.  So, now we have a new snack food!



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Allergy Free Korean Beef

I am always searching for something to do with ground beef.  My kids love "taco meat" and I get so tired of tacos!  So, here's a slightly Asian recipe that's very simple.  My kids loved it!  It's very easy to make and is perfect with rice.

 Korean Beef

2 lbs ground beef or ground bison
heaping 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut soy sauce
3 teaspoons dry minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
salt and pepper
beef broth
diced green onions

Brown the meat and drain the fat.
Add remaining ingredients (except green onions) and simmer.
Add as much beef broth as needed to make the amount of "sauce" that you want with your meat.  I only added a tiny bit.
Serve over rice with lots of diced green onions on top!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gluten Free

My mom has been living with celiac disease for several years now.  She's the reason I first began to suspect that Bee might have a problem with certain foods.  Through her research about gluten, I realized that food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities can manifest in a variety of symptoms.  Bee's condition fit many of those symptoms.  And sure enough, food was the culprit.  I've asked her to guest post on occasion and share some of her insight about gluten, celiac disease, and living gluten free.



What is all this talk of "gluten-free?"
What's the big deal about gluten anyway?

Well, actually, the big deal about gluten is quite huge.

Many, many people react to gluten, but most are not even aware of gluten as the culprit.

What are some of the more common symptoms of a reaction to gluten?  A partial list includes frequent headaches or migraines, fatigue, itchy skin lesions, joint pain, constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramping, bloating, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Wow! What could trigger such reactions?  The tiny portion of wheat called gliadin is the actual problem.  Gliadin is the protein portion of wheat (and several other grains) and is often not easily digested.  Hence, the trouble begins!
The gliadin in the gluten can trigger any number of reactions, affecting the human body in a number or ways and causing numerous health complications.

So, what's the "big deal" about this tiny protein?  Stay tuned as we explore.
 
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