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!

Easy Adobo Bean & “Cheese” Quesadilla

Bean Quesadillas

This recipe was born out of desperation. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store and raided my pantry for something to make for dinner. I found a jar of Randall Great Northern Beans, tortillas, & some frozen Daiya mozzarella shreds in my freezer.

I experimented and ended up with a new family favorite. The icing on the cake? It’s super easy. I can knock this out of the park in less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

These quesadillas make great lunches or dinners. A veggie on the side is an easy way to finish off this meal. If you’re really short on time, steam in the microwave veggies make this entire meal even easier. And easy is good.

Here’s how to make Adobo Bean & “Cheese” Quesadillas:

Ingredients:

  • 1 24 oz jar of Randall Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed (or 2-3 cups of cooked beans)
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 4 shakes of Adobo seasoning
  • Approx 1/4-1/2 tsp of garlic powder and onion powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • 6-8 Tortillas, depending of tortilla size

Directions:

  1. Put drained and rinsed beans in a bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the beans. Add the tomato sauce and spices. Mix well.
  2. Use a spoon and scoop out a large spoonful of bean mixture on half of a tortilla. Sprinkle a generous amount of nutritional yeast on top of the bean mixture and sprinkle Daiya to your preference. Fold tortilla in half like a quesadilla.
  3. Brown quesadillas on a skillet or griddle. The griddle heats a lot at one time and is why I can have this on the table so quickly.
  4. Serve as is, with a side of salsa for dipping or with a veggie and/or fruit on the side.

I use the fajita size tortillas and this makes approximately 7-8 quesadillas. Also, I don’t measure the spices- I just eyeball it. One time I accidentally shook WAY TOO MUCH onion powder in this and it still tasted amazing!

This is one meal my five year old GOBBLES without complaint. She loves it and so do we.

In this often busy and sometimes chaotic holiday season, this quick recipe helps get an easy and nutritious meal on the table.  Ya gotta leave easy and nutritious, right?

Enjoy!

Southern Cornbread Dressing: Dairy and Egg Free

Y’all, we have some news.  We’ve moved back down south!  Which is why I didn’t post for months.  Life was a little crazy for a long stretch.  But now we have moved halfway across the country, sold our Iowa condo, bought a new house and are kind of settled in.  We’ve been in our house for almost 6 weeks, so there’s still a lot to do.

We hosted Thanksgiving at our new house and I was in charge of making almost everything.  I’ve tried my hand at making my mom’s incredible cornbread dressing before and it was a flop- 2 years in a row.  I gave up on making it last year.  This year, however, I had a lightbulb moment.  I discovered a gravy recipe from about.com and have adapted it to fit our needs.  The gravy is creamy, delicious, and could mimic the canned cream of chicken my mom’s recipe uses.

I didn’t even include it in my Thanksgiving post, because, well, I’ve failed miserably in the past.  But not this time.  This time I ROCKED IT!  Finally!!!

My mom’s recipe uses chicken broth, eggs, cream of chicken soup, butter, cornbread, sage, and minced onion.

I decided to make my cornbread with gravy, but added sage and poultry seasoning to my gravy to give it the same flavor as my mom’s.  I used vegan butter and vegetable broth.

The result?  My father asked my mom IF SHE MADE THE DRESSING!

That was the moment I gave myself a secret high five and knew this recipe was good.

So if you’re looking for a savory and delicious cornbread dressing recipe for the holidays or for any day, I have just the recipe for you!

Southern Cornbread Dressing: Dairy and Egg Free

( Cornbread recipe adapted from here.  
Southern Cornbread Dressing recipe adapted from my mom’s recipe.)

Make the cornbread the day before or first thing in the morning.  I make it the night before as it frees up more time on the big day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup SO Delicious Lite Culinary Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish with vegan butter.

3.  Boil the water in a small saucepan and add the ground flax seed. Stir well with a fork or whisk.  Reduce the heat and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 2-3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Mine was ready in 2 minutes.

4.  Set the flax egg to the side.  You’ll use it in step 6.

5.  Grab a clean bowl and combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well.

6.  Add the ground flax seed mixture, coconut milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture. Mix until just until smooth.

7.  Put the cornbread mixture into the greased pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Mine was done in 20 minutes.

STEP 2 to be completed the next day or once the cornbread has cooled completely:

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Make homemade gravy but double the recipe and add 1 tsp of poultry seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon sage.

3.  Crumble cornbread in a bowl.

4.  Add 1/2 of the gravy and a generous splash of vegetable broth.  Stir well.  Add more gravy and veggie broth until the cornbread mixture looks soupy.  I used more gravy than broth because the gravy has all of the typical cornbread dressing flavor.  You will not use all of the gravy- I had maybe 1/2 cup of gravy left.  I splashed in veggie broth maybe 3 times.

5.  Grease a larger baking dish (I have one in between the 8×8 and 9×12 pans and used the in between size.)

6.  Pour in soupy cornbread mixture.

7.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until dressing is firm but not dry.  I used convection bake and mine was done in 23 minutes.

8.  Use the extra gravy to pour over the dressing.

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This is the cornbread dressing.  I realized I had no photos of it and snapped this quick photo at the last second.

Savory Vegan Gravy

You guys.  Y’all.  This gravy is awesome.  It really is awesome sauce!

My 5 year old is now spoiled and wants this gravy on everything: baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cutlets… You get the picture, right?

This gravy is also the superstar in my upcoming “Southern Cornbread Dressing” recipe.  Stay tuned for that bad boy!

Here’s how I make gravy in our house.

Savory Vegan Gravy
(I’ve made some changes from this original recipe, which is yummy, too. You can click here to see the original recipe from about.com)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Directions:

1.  Heat the vegan butter over medium heat in a medium sized pot and add all of the spices and flour.  Whisk together.

2.  Add the vegetable broth and cornstarch and whisk well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer, whisking constantly.

3.  When the gravy has thickened, add the nutritional yeast and liquid aminos and cook for one more minute, continuing to whisk the gravy.

**Variation:  Add 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of sage in addition to the spices listed above.

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Close up of gravy and my homemade mashed potatoes.  YUM!