Today is a New Beginning

Kindergarten Stickers

We started homeschool today.

The realization that everything has changed hit me tonight.

And I cried.

And the Huzz stared at me.

And I cried some more.

Because everything has changed.

We chose not to send SG to pre-school for many reasons. I used to be a first grade teacher, so I knew I could equip her for kindergarten. Also, we were not comfortable sending our super contact reactive daughter to preschool.

So, I stayed home with her, which was always our plan.

For five and a half long and beautiful years, we did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

We:

Played

Sang

Danced

Snuggled

Laughed

Shopped

Learned

Cooked

Cleaned

And did I say Shopped… a lot!

And we did so much more, together.

Yes, we can still do those things. Just not whenever we want. I feel a heaviness that that chapter is behind us.

Yes, exciting things are about to happen.

I get to watch our child learn and grow.

But it still didn’t stop the sadness and the tears from falling.

I am NOT the sentimental type so these emotions have taken me by surprise.

I find myself thinking:

“What if I mess this up somehow?”

“How am I going to get everything done that used to take me all week to do?”

“What will our days really be like?”

“Will SG adjust and thrive?”

“How am I going to do this???”

I keep thinking of a sticker I have that says “Choose Joy.”

Choose JOY

I will choose joy.

We will adjust and thrive.

SG will bloom and grow.

We can do this.

Heavenly Father, please fill me with joy, for Your Mercies are new every morning!

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I’d love to know:
Do you homeschool? Do you send your child(ren) to public school or private school? Please share your back to school stories (especially kindergarten stories) with me below.

Note: I wrote this last night and am posting this a day late. Today was officially our second day of homeschool and SG tested on a first grade reading level! That was such a great ending to day two.

Allergy Friendly Cakes & Cupcakes

I have made a lot of cakes since becoming an allergy mom.  I’ve learned how to bake, frost and create.

I decided to scroll through my thousands (I’m serious!) of family pics and find all of the allergy friendly cakes, cupcakes and cookie cakes I’ve made and photographed.

Most of these cakes use my wacky cake recipe.  Click here for the recipe for wacky cake.  I’ve also made a few cookie cakes.  I use this recipe from Silk and instead of making lots of cookies, I shape it in whatever shape I need and bake it for 10-20 minutes.  I start checking it at 10 minutes and adjust from there.

Here are most of the cakes, cupcakes, and cookie cakes I’ve made:

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

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Spider-Man Birthday Cupcakes for my Niece’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Tinker Bell Cupcakes for SG’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Close Up.  The Ring Toppers Made the Cupcakes Look so Special!

A SpiderMan Cake for my "Baby" Brother

A SpiderMan Cake for my “Baby” Brother

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Simple Christmas Cupcakes

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Mini Vanilla Cupcakes for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Tea Party

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Frozen Cupcakes for SG’s 4th Birthday Party

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Thanksgiving Cupcakes

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Tea Party Cupcakes

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Jelly Tinted Vanilla Cupcakes Topped with Fresh Strawberries for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi's 85th Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi’s 85th Birthday Party

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No Frosting?  No Problem.  Just Add Coco Whip & Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

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A Cookie Cake for our Little Cousin’s 3rd Birthday Party

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I Included her Initials, Too.

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

Football Cookie Cake

Football Cookie Cake

There ya have it.  Most of the cakes I’ve made in the past few years, right here for ya in one spot.  :)  I have made a few more but cannot find the photos.  Oh well.

Happy cake making, food allergy mamas and papas!

BBQ Bean Sammies & Dairy & Egg Free Coleslaw

Y’all!  The Local Vegan has an amazing recipe!  It has become one of our family favorites.  I’m not gonna write out Bailey Rae’s recipe but instead tell you the changes I made for our family.

BBQ Sammie

Back in Iowa we had safe store bought buns.  I miss those buns.

BBQ Sammie 2

On Toasted Homemade Bread

Here is the original recipe, which I follow almost to a T.  I don’t make the green beans and I omit the poppyseeds in the slaw.  I usually serve roasted carrots or OreIda french fries because SG loves them.  And hey, it’s safe.  What can I say?

I use Randall’s white northern beans, but feel free to use pinto beans as the original recipe does.  I make my own BBQ sauce because I have to.  Lately, all store bought BBQ sauce makes MY tongue tingle and as a food allergy mom I know that is not good.

Here is the homemade BBQ sauce recipe I make from Once a Month Meals.  I omit the Worcestershire sauce and add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid aminos (just like soy sauce) instead.

I have not found safe store bought bread in SC so I make my own.  We have used this homemade regular white bread (toast first in the toaster or else the bread gets soggy) and I’ve also served this on these amazing homemade dinner rolls.  My fave is on the dinner rolls, but more often we use the homemade white bread because it’s a lot easier to make.

Homemade Rolls

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Homemade Bread

Homemade Dairy & Egg Free Bread 

Let’s talk about the beans!  If I am making enough for one dinner I use a 24 oz jar (roughly 2 cans) of beans.  Today for the first time ever, I used a 48 oz jar of beans and I ended up with double. I did not even have to make double BBQ sauce because I use 1.5 cups of homemade sauce per recipe.  Woot woot!  One 8×8 dish of BBQ beans is in the freezer right now.  I cannot tell you how tickled pink I am about that.  I love my freezer meals!

Freezer BBQ Beans

I hope y’all enjoy this recipe.  We sure do.

 

 

 

 

A Ray of Hope

I have to say, I have some hope for the first time in a long time for my daughter’s contact reactions.  We moved and have a new allergist who gave us a plan to start to try to reduce and hopefully eliminate her constant contact reactions when we are out in public.  I felt so emotional at the chance to finally be free of contact reactions, I almost cried.  My hope was stuffed down and crushed, but still, I always pray for a cure.  I’ve always said that if her contact reactions would go away, it’d be so much easier to manage.  Not easy, but easier.  Having a ray of hope is nice.  It’s refreshing.

It’s a good reminder that my hope is in the Lord and perhaps I need to readjust my heart and remember where my hope comes from.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.”

Psalm 62:5 (NIV)

Cutlets “Parmesan”

I love chickpea cutlets!!!

They are budget friendly, freeze beautifully and are a great protein for many dishes.

Seriously, these little babies are so budget friendly.  I can get anywhere from 10-12 cutlets per 14 oz jar of beans.  For us, they average out to about 13 cents per cutlet!  What what?!?!

Here is a super easy way to use the chickpea cutlets.  By the way, I have also made these cutlets with white northern beans and they taste exactly the same!

Before you make this recipe, head over to this blog post and make a batch or two of the cutlets.  These cutlets freeze well.  I try to always have a batch of chickpea cutlets in the freezer.

Here’s how I make what I like to “Cutlets Parmesan.”  It has neither meat or cheese, but it’s amazing just the same!

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“Cutlets Parmesan”

Ingredients:

  • Prepared Cutlets (click here for recipe)
  • Safe jar of spaghetti sauce
  • Safe cooked noodles (approximately 1.5 to 2.5 cups, depending on the size dish you make.)
  • Vegan Cheese (We use Daiya Mozzarella Shreds)
  • Nutritional Yeast

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use either an 8×8 or 9×12 glass baking dish.  I use an 8×8 for just the three of us.  I use the 9×12 if we have guests for dinner.
  3. Place a layer of noodles in the baking dish.
  4. Add a layer of spaghetti sauce on top of the noodles.  Spread evenly and gently.
  5. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of the spaghetti sauce.
  6. Sprinkle a light layer of vegan cheese.
  7. Add cutlets on top of vegan cheese.
  8. Top each cutlet with additional spaghetti sauce and add more vegan cheese on top of each cutlet.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  This is to heat the casserole and melt the vegan cheese.  The dish is already all cooked, so it shouldn’t need more than 15 minutes.

 

Chickpea Cutlets

8×8 dish in progress.  I use rotini noodles.  You can use any large noodle that is safe for your family.

 

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Side View.  I don’t measure for this dish, so I hope this pic helps.  Now this pic is making me hungry!!!

 

Homemade Barbie Birthday Cake: Dairy & Egg Free

Y’all!!! I think I need a personal chef. Or a personal organizer. Or a housekeeper.

Because I just can’t do it all lately. Do you remember that I mentioned a few posts back that we moved to South Carolina? (From Iowa.)

We closed on our house on November 3rd. Birthday party for SG was scheduled for November 21st. That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. And the next week was Thanksgiving, which I hosted and prepared almost everything for. And then Christmas.  Let’s just say: I’ve. Been. Busy.

So SG wanted a Barbie themed birthday party. I scoured Pinterest for ideas. I found some amazing ideas. I did not want her party to be a Pinterest fail. Nuh-uh.

I was determined to make her a beautiful Barbie cake. Like the Barbie in the cake kind. I was so nervous. I didn’t even practice the cake before her party. I wanted to and planned to, but ran out of time.

I even found a Barbie box on Pinterest. One for the kids to pose inside of for pics. I had to have it! I have my graphic designer brother to thank for the Barbie box. Way to go Uncle Josh!

Here’s how the Barbie box turned out:

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The Barbie box was inspired by these pins here and here.  In the end, we looked at a few pins and my brother did his own thang.

Each of our guests took pics inside the box. It was just adorable!!!

And the cake…

Well, I’ll just show it to you:

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I still can’t even believe we made this cake!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, it deserves that many exclamation marks.)

Here are the pins that inspired this cake:

This one from Cakes.com.

This one from The TomKat Studio.  This one had so many inspirations!

And also this one from Blissfully Sweet.

None of those cakes were safe for us, but I knew I could do it.  Or I could at least try my hardest!

In preparation for frosting the cake, I knew it was time to finally buy a nice icing set. I scoured Amazon and the reviews convinced me to purchase this Dessert Decorator Plus. This tool was crucial in the frosting of this cake. I highly recommend it.

We browsed several Barbies in the stores and SG decided on this Barbie:

SG's choice. I liked her for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

SG’s choice. I liked this Barbie for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

Here’s how I made the cake. I decided to go with our handy dandy and reliable wacky cake. Otherwise known as crazy cake or depression era cake. I made two batches. I made 4 round cake pans total. Two chocolate and two vanilla round cakes.

Wacky Cake
(Double this recipe.)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of cocoa (for vanilla cakes, omit cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use 1 Tablespoon vanilla if making vanilla cupcakes)
  • 2 cups cold water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your round pans. Grease with vegan butter and add a little bit of flour.
  3. Gently tap the pan to evenly spread the flour throughout the pan. Throw away the extra flour.
  4. Put dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.
    Add wet ingredients. Beat well until blended.
  5. Pour mixture in the two round pans. Try to get the same amount in each pan. I eyeball it.
  6. Put the pans in the oven and bake.
  7. The round cakes will take approximately 20-35 minutes. I used convection bake and it baked two cakes in about 20 minutes. When I don’t use convection bake it takes a little longer. Set your timer for 20 minutes and add extra time in small increments if needed.
  8. Let cakes cool on a wire rack. Place a large plate on top of the cake and flip over. The cake should come right out. If not, you may have to gently prod the cake out.

We decided to wrap the cakes in foil and freeze them overnight. We did this because we wanted the cake to be firm for shaping it the next day.

The next morning, we unwrapped the cakes.

Here’s what we used to make the doll shaped cake.  This website was the one that convinced me I didn’t have to buy one of those big dress shaped cake pans.  I could use simple round pans to make my barbie cake dress, as I mentioned above.  Thanks for the Pinspiration!

I bought a cardboard round cake board from Party City. We wrapped that in foil. We put one round cake on the board, but used icing to “glue” it down. We put a light layer of frosting on top and used that as the glue to hold the next layer. We alternated chocolate and vanilla cake layers.

Here’s the steps with photos:

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This "cream cheese" frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This “cream cheese” frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

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We had to trim the puffiest part of each round cake except for the base and top layer.  Ok- I guess we trimmed 2 of the 4 cakes!

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Layer 3

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This was just tall enough for our Barbie.  Don’t forget to wrap her legs in plastic wrap!

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Barbie’s hips will be covered with frosting.

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The Huzz used the serrated knife to soften those hard angles.  We didn’t snap a pic of it before the frosting.

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We gave it a quick layer of frosting to prevent crumbs from showing through her “dress.”

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Barbie in all her glory!

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Barbie from another angle.

I started the frosting in the middle of Barbie’s dress in the front.  I made one rosette and kept going in a line horizontally until I went all the way back around.  Then I worked my way one row at a time.  When I got to to Barbie’s hips, I did a quick line around her waist to make sure the plastic wrap didn’t show.  I used 3-4 cans of Pillsbury frosting for her pink rosette dress.

We are so pleased with how the cake turned out.  SG was blown away and super happy!

I am thrilled to show the world that us food allergy mamas can rock it out!  FAM’s (food allergy mamas)- WE GOT THIS!

 

Christmas Meal Prep Plan

 

For Christmas this year, I’m pretty much making exactly what I made this past Thanksgiving, with a few changes to the dessert menu.

Here’s my menu and the breakdown of what I make ahead. I make as much in advance as I can to make it a little easier on the big day.

I’m breaking it down between four days. You can do it in two days if you’re pressed for time. I’m spreading it out slowly because I’m not rushed for time this year.

Day 1:

Make a double batch of Buckeyes and freeze them.  Use dairy free subs and coconut oil instead of shortening.

Day 2:

Make Homemade Bread (I use this to make the breadcrumbs I need for Day 3’s Cutlets recipe.)

Make Fudge and refrigerate.

Make Sugar Cookies and decorate.

Day 3:

Make Pumpkin Pie and refrigerate.

Make Cornbread.

Make Double Batch of Chickpea Cutlets and refrigerate.

Peel Potatoes in the evening and completely cover potatoes with water in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Keep in fridge until it’s time to make the mashed potatoes the next day. (Optional step. Can omit and do this on day 4.)

Day 4:

Start Dough for Homemade Dinner Rolls early. When dough is ready, prepare rolls and bake.

Boil and season fresh green beans (I use vegetable broth and season with Adobo, garlic powder and onion powder.) Transfer to a crockpot and cook on high for approximately 4 hours.

Make Gravy. A triple batch. Use the suggested variation of adding poultry seasoning and sage to the gravy.

Make Cornbread Dressing.

Make Holiday Mashed Potatoes.

I hope this breakdown helps. If you need any last minute recipes for Christmas, these recipes will not disappoint!

I hope you have a wonderful week leading up to Christmas.

Merry Christmas, y’all!