Monday, August 25, 2008

The Return

We returned from vacation today. I have to admit that I was a little nervous leaving home without a solid grasp of what we can now eat. I worked out wonderfully. We ate like gourmet foodies (I think), and enjoyed every day. I really recommend that anyone with multiple allergies stay at a suite when traveling for more than one night. It is such a stress relief to know that you can always have safe food when you get back to the hotel.
We love Homewood Suites, but recently stayed in a Residence Inn. (A mistake by the way, for those of you who are allergic to animals. I did not know ahead of time that they allow animals. My eldest is VERY allergic to dogs, and I must admit, I freaked out. The manager did put us on the 'pet free floor'. She seemed okay in the room, but after 10 minutes in the lobby, she needed a Benadryl and a bath.) I digress.
I love having a full kitchen to cook in, and knowing that I can stock it with whatever foods I want. Granted, it is not fully stocked with all of the utensils that we get spoiled by in our own kitchens, but it has what you need to cook for a week. It is a luxury worth indulging in. Most families spend money eating out at restaurants the whole week, so grocery shopping is a money saver that can offset the added expense of a suite.
I will say that we had two restaurant experiences on our trip, both of which are worth sharing. Quaker Stake and Lube had an impressive knowledge of the allergens on their menu, and the waitress seemed genuinely concerned with accommodating us to the best of her ability. We had more options there than I would have imagined.
We also tried Houlihans. The waitress seemed unconcerned with learning about what would be safe for us, and suggested that instead of learning what is in the barbeque sauce we just order our chicken/salmon plain. I was so mad at her lack of concern and effort that I was ready to walk out, but the visit was saved by the appearance of the kitchen manager. He took us very seriously, and made the eldest feel like a princess by making her a special dish and delivering it himself. Kudos to him!
I think I am done rambling for now, I just wanted to offer encouragement to those who are wary of travel. It can be done, and done well. We had a ton of fun, ate well, played well, and felt normal the whole time. What a great relief!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Crazy for Raspberry

For those of you who don't cook, the next recipe will make you crazy. There really aren't measurements. I just dump it all together to get the texture and flavor I want. I did put a guess-timate for those of you who need a starting point. Taste and fix to your taste. Tonight, we will have sauteed chicken with raspberry sauce. Use your imagination, you could put it on mandarin oranges, pork chops, whatever.

Raspberry Sauce

2 T Simply fruit seedless raspberry jelly
1 T raspberry blush vinegar
1/2 t sugar

Mix all in small bowl. Microwave on high for 15-20 seconds. Stir. Serve warm. Drizzle over food of your choice. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Simple and Tasty

When I came across this recipe, I was doubtful that it could be anything special because it sounded too simple. I made it, and it was wonderful! Even my hubby, who does not like mandarin oranges, enjoyed this dish. The kiddos like it too! And it is so quick to throw together that it may become a staple in our house.

Mandarin Chicken

1 1/2 c rice
2 pounds chicken (I have used legs, thighs, and breasts. It's all good.)
1 c orange juice
1 c water
1 c chicken broth (be careful, many have allergens in some form!)
1 T barbecue sauce of your choice
1/2 t salt
dash pepper
1 8.5 oz mostly drained mandarin oranges
paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 13x9 pan.

Spread uncooked rice in prepared pan. Lay chicken on top.

Whisk orange juice, water, broth, and barbecue sauce together in a bowl. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with oranges. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. Bake for 65 minutes, until chicken juices run clear and rice is tender. (Time will vary based on type of chicken used, bone-in chicken takes a bit longer.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Score! Success number one!

Today I found a coconut milk based yogurt that is YUMMY! It is better than soy yogurt by far, and I think it is even better than dairy based yogurt. Now, just think, if we had not developed a soy allergy, we would likely have never found coconut milk yogurt. I love it, my daughter loves it, and my husband loves it. I'm sure the little girls will like it too when they try it. If you want to give it a whirl, we found it at Whole Foods Market, and it is "All Natural SO Delicious made with coconut milk". Yipee! There can be taste in our world still. Here's hope for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And the list grows!

We got word from the doctor's office yesterday that my eldest has added wheat and soy to her list of allergies. Which of course explains why her eczema is getting worse everyday, she is a walking ball of oozing itching girlie. Poor thing. And mama gives her at least 2 glasses of soymilk everyday, plus all the incidental soy. And wheat crackers are her favorite snack of late. So, the two of us were a discouraged pair yesterday. Now I get to learn a whole new way of feeding the family. I would love to hear from anyone with experience. In the meantime, here we go. Today's recipe:

Berry Strawberries

1 qt sliced strawberries
t T simply fruit red rasberry spread
1 t sugar (depending on how ripe and sweet your berries are, you may be able to skip this)

Microwave fruit spread 20 seconds, or until just melted. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour over sliced strawberries and toss to coat evenly. Enjoy! Simple and easy way to dress up berries for a fun change.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Better than Campbell's!

Ever notice how many baked casserole recipes call for cream of (fill in the blank) soup? Yes, of course you can substitute, but the result is not quite the same. And when feeding a husband with discriminating tastes, poor imitations are just that. Of course, my girls don't mind, as they haven't anything to compare to, so it's still yummy to them. This recipe, though, is incredible. It is so creamy, it tastes like there is an actual cream of whatever in there. Even my husband loved it. And took seconds. And thirds! What a success.

Mushroom Chicken and Rice Casserole

1/2 c dairy free margarine (we like earth balance and soy garden)
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t garlic powder to taste
1/4 c plain (unsweetened) soymilk
2 c chicken broth
6 oz fresh sliced mushrooms of your choice
2 T onion, diced
3 c cooked rice
2 c diced cooked chicken (leftover roast chicken is great for this)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium to large skillet melt margarine. Saute mushroom and onion about 7 minutes until tender. Add flour, salt, pepper, garlic and combine well. Slowly add soymilk and chicken broth. Cook and stir until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Add rice and chicken, and stir until combined. Place in 13x9 pan. Garnish with paprika and parsley if desired. Bake 25 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. YUM!

I have not tried this with wild rice yet, but I think it would be incredible to substitute wild rice for white rice. Let me know if you beat me to it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chocolate cake for all!

I am a chocolate addict. Seriously. When I had to give up dairy, eggs, and nuts while I was nursing my daughter 5 years ago, that hardest part was giving up chocolate. I never realized what a hard core addict I was until that time. Now, there are many more kinds of dairy free chocolate on the market than there were then. Back then, I went through a really ugly withdrawl, and finally figured out some creative solutions. One of them has become a reliable standby. Seriously moist and delightfully tasty chocolate cake. I have had numerous requests for this recipe from my non-allergic friends. So, here it is:

Alia friendly Chocolate Cake

2 2/3 c flour
2 t baking soda
2/3 c cocoa
2 c sugar
1 t salt
2 c water
2 t vanilla
2/3 c oil (I prefer to bake with corn oil- it lends a buttery flavor)
2 t vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add liquid. Mix well. (Note: batter will be thin.) Bake in 2 greased layer pans or one 13x9x2 for 30 minutes. Cool and frost. (My husband has never liked my attempts at allergy friendly chocolate frosting, so I buy a tub of Pilsbury Chocolate Fudge. It is wonderful.) Don't blame me if you eat the whole cake in one day.