Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Veggie Casserole

Here is a great side dish for Thanksgiving. Nikki eats this often as a main course which is why I added the edemame beans for protein. I know I refer to Nikki as a vegetarian and this has chicken stock (not to mention worcestershire sauce which has anchovies), but the only problem she has with eating meat is the texture. If you prefer to make this as an oven casserole just put everything in a casserole dish and bake, covered, at 350 for about an hour or until vegetables can be pierced easily with a fork. It's a little spicy and a little sweet and is a great comfort food on a cold winter day.

8 c Hearty winter vegetables cut into large chunks: red skinned potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, parsnips, rutabagas, pearl onions, and sometimes shelled edemame for added protein (whatever vegetables your family enjoys!)
2 T Margarine or sunflower oil
1 ½ c Chicken stock (you can just use a whole 14 oz can)
1 T Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrin’s is gluten free)
1 T Tomato paste
2 T Brown sugar
1 t Whole grain mustard
2 Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

Heat margarine or oil in a large frying pan. Add all of the vegetables (except for edemame if you are using them) and a few grinds (or a light sprinkle) of salt and pepper. Toss to coat and let cook over medium heat while you prepare the sauce, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together chicken stock, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and mustard.
Add the bay leaves to the pan and pour the sauce over everything.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft and carrots are tender crisp. Stir once or twice during cooking so that all of the veggies get coated with sauce. If you are using edemame add them at the last 5 minutes, if you overcook them they shrivel up and get icky.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whew! It's Done!

Nikki is playing Sleeping Beauty's mother (the queen) in her first drama club play next month. Nikki is very petite and finding a costume that fit her was we made it. Now mind you I haven't sewn in about 10 years so this was a little daunting. That is why, although completely unrelated to allergies, I decided to post a picture of the dress. I am so proud of it that I'm giddy and I just wanted to share it with the world! Amanda told me the picture is awkward, but I told her that if she's going to make me take my own pictures then she can't complain. Besides, Nikki wouldn't let me show her face. So, there it is...I can get back to cooking now! :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nikki's Birthday!

People keep asking me if I'm ready for Thanksgiving, to which I reply..."Thanksgiving? It's Nikki's birthday, I can only handle one holiday at a time!" I'm posting this because I don't want you all to think I've just been slacking this month. Not only is it Nikki's birthday, but I have also been sewing a queen's dress for Nikki's upcoming school play which I will post photos of soon. So, anyway, I wanted to share with you the cool food stuff we did for the party. Nikki wanted a hedgehog cake. We baked a regular cake mix (she can have "normal" cake) in a large stainless steel bowl, frosted it, and covered it in pretzel sticks. The face is an ice cream cone and the ears are vanilla wafers. Sitting next to the cake you will see Emily's little allergen free hedgehog baby cupcake. I just used what I had for hers...sunflower seeds for the spikes and tortilla chips for the face and ears. Amanda and I have been thinking since summer that we should do an "edible arrangement" for Nikki's birthday since she loves fruit so much...we didn't think about the fact that it is now November and good fruit is hard to come by. We had fun cutting and arranging all of our lovely sour fruit and then Amanda had a brilliant idea, she poured sugar all around the base of the fruit for everyone to dip it in. By the end of the evening every bit of fruit was gone. The party was lots of fun...there was a candy fight (which involved candy necklaces being used as sling shots...not MY idea!) and we watched "the Orphanage". All in all one of the best 13 yr old parties I've been to. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NIKKI!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chewy Nut Bars

I realize that the name "nut bars" is a little scary for those of us with nut allergies, but if you can have just one nut you can make these! If you can't have any nuts you might even be able to make the whole thing with seeds (pumkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, etc.) Emily can have is the only nut she can that is what I used. The texture of these bars is truely chewy, not soft cookie chewy, more like candy bar chewy (YUM!). My inspiration was the Sweet and Salty nut bars by Nature Valley which are one of my guilty pleasures that I eat while no one else is home, then wash my hands and brush my teeth immediately...that takes some of the pleasure out of it. Now I can eat these any time I want without the fear of harming someone in my family...I can even share them! The frosting on the bottom is delicious and makes them more like the originals, but if you want to simplify this recipe simply leave it off. These bars are sweet and salty and chewy and incredible all on their own! As for my picture this 12 yr old Nikki (13 this weekend) saved up her own money and bought herself a digital camera this summer, this picture is the first of her's that I have posted. Looks like I have 2 talented photographers now, yay!

1 c Coarsely chopped raw almonds (Blue Diamond is peanut free)
1 c Coarsely chopped Honey roasted almonds (Blue Diamond is peanut free)
½ c Gluten free rolled oats ( Lara's )
½ c Crisp rice cereal (we used EnviroKidz )
1 c Frosted flakes (we used EnviroKidz )
¼ c Roasted salted sunflower seeds
1 c Dried cranberries

¼ c Brown sugar
½ c Corn syrup
1 t Vanilla extract
½ c Sunbutter

1 c Dairy free white chocolate chips
¼ c Sunbutter

Prepare 9x13 pan with non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, toss all dry ingredients. Substitute whatever nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are safe for your family.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and allow to boil one minute.
After boiling, turn off heat and add vanilla and sunbutter. QUICKLY pour this hot mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to combine, I actually ended up kneading it all together with my hands.

Pour warm mixture into prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture down into the pan to compress the bars so they will slice evenly. Put pan in the refrigerator while preparing the frosting.

In a microwave safe bowl combine white chocolate chips and sunbutter. Microwave on medium power, stirring frequently, until melted and well combined.

Turn bars (they are not actually bars yet, it is still one big piece) out of pan and flip upside down. Spread frosting evenly over the entire bottom. Chill until frosting is hardened. Slice into bars.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Wonderful "New" Magazine!

My mother just sent me a magazine called "Living Without" and I am really enjoying it! I suppose it's not really new since I just looked at their website and it said "celebrating 10 years", but it's new to me. It seems to be mostly gluten free and dairy free, not completely allergen free (as a matter of fact they seem to use an excessive amount of eggs in my opinion), but still full of great stuff! Lots of recipes and great articles. If you want to check them out but aren't ready for a subscription you can find them online at .
P.S. I noticed that after I published this post Google put an ad for Living Without on my site. Just for the record this post was not a paid endorsement.