Friday, April 27, 2012

A little about us: Crafting for a Cause

This post has gotten ridiculously long, so I have added a party at the end, as an incentive for you to read the entire thing.  Please take the time to read it in its entirety.  This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, plus you don't want to be the only one to miss the party!

Crafting for a Cause

Chances are, if you are on my blog, you know someone with food allergies.  If not, here is a little information.  Food allergies affect an estimated 9 million (4%) adults and nearly 6 million children, that's 1 in 13 kids.  Every three minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room and every 6 minutes, the reaction is anaphylaxis.  All of that is just statistics though, and my goal is to put a face to food allergies.  Here is our story.

I married my husband in 2006 and we decided very quickly to have children  I remember, before I became pregnant, thinking one night what would happen if we had a sick baby.  After considering all the possibilities for a few minutes, I thought to myself, If God chooses to give me a baby, healthy or not, I will love him/her unconditionally and do whatever it takes to keep that baby happy.  Now when I look back at this moment, it makes me wonder if this was more than just a perspective mothers worrying.  Maybe I had just accepted the path that the lord had chosen for our family.  This line of thought has always kept me from wondering, why my child.  Please don't misinterpret what I am saying.  If given the opportunity to go back and know what I do now, I wouldn't change anything.  I don't want anyone to feel sorry for us, because we are great!  I know there are far worse things in the world, but no parent wants their child to be sick or hurting ever.  No parent wants their child to be left out, or feel different.  

Our daughter was born in 2007, healthy and happy, except she often refused to eat.  During the next few months, she began having rashes that would cover most of her body.  I noticed that any soap or shampoo I used caused her to break out as well.  The rash eventually turned into itchy, scaly, sores.  One that covered half her face at times.  I took her to Dr. after Dr. and no one seemed to know what was wrong.  She spent 2 months on antibiotics and steroids with no success.  

At 6 months old, she was still refusing to eat, so one day I gave her a bottle of formula in the hopes that she would eat.  Instead of giving my baby the nutrients she needed, I had just unwittingly poisoned her.  She immediately started vomiting and broke out in hives so large that it actually looked more like someone had thrown a pot of boiling water on her.   If I knew then what I know now, the rashes refusal to eat and her eczema were all hinting toward a food allergy.  I was simply uneducated.  

That was the first of many reactions we have encountered over the years.  We ended up spending that first weekend at Children's Hospital in Omaha and from there, found an amazing pediatrician, who has always gone above and beyond to make sure all her allergies and asthma are in check.  He has taken us from the place where I had an itchy, rashy baby to now, where there are no outward signs of her allergies.  She is healthy, eczema free, and her asthma is well controlled thanks to him.

She will still break out in hives if someone were to eat something with eggs or nuts in it and kissed her on the cheek before brushing their teeth and washing their mouth.  The same goes for washing hands and any other surface that has been exposed to either of these foods.  When she has inadvertently eaten something she is allergic to, typically she vomits, followed by hives and if her epinephrine is not administered fairly quickly her airway begins to close.  I can tell you, unequivocally, there is nothing scarier that getting a call at work saying your toddler is sick and walking into the room to find her passed out on the floor, purple.    

OK,  I was trying to keep this short and sweet so I wouldn't loose your attention, but that's not happening.  I'll give you all the KISS version of who FAAN is and why I am Crafting for a Cause.
I hope you will join me.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) was started in 1991 by the mother of a food allergic child.  Over the past 20 years, FAAN has become an institution in the F.A. world.   It has turned into one of the most trusted sources of information and resources related to food allergies.  When my daughter was finally diagnosed, the information our pediatrician gave me was from FAAN.  you see, it has turned into so much more than just a resource for people with allergies.  It's members include families, medical professionals, governmental agencies, and  both the food and pharmaceutical industries.  It provides education to restaurants and schools about how to safely serve those with F.A. It also has developed a program called be a PAL for both schools and the girl scouts to both educate others and to keep allergic children safe.  In short, FAAN has become the  nationally recognized face between the food allergic and major industries, as well as governmental agencies to help make the world a safer place for my child.  Basically, it is the link that binds us together.  FAAN is also a non profit organization.

This year, my family and friends will be joining me in walking for my daughter in FAAN's yearly fundraiser.  What I am asking each of you to do, if you feel compelled to do so, is is to make one art, craft, or whatever you do, over the next 2 months and at the end of the summer we will be having a craft show/bake sale/sell your wares party in Lincoln, Ne.  

All I'm asking is for one project and then you are done.  If you know me, I may be able to come pick up the items from you.  I set up a page on facebook (see the link above for crafting for a cause) that you can join and I will be updating it with more information as we get organized.  I am hoping to get some drop off locations set up.  If you live farther away, please contact me via the facebook page or leave a comment and we can work out how to get your donation here.

Not crafty or artistic?  No problem!  You can donate to our team by visiting our team page.  Just choose a walker and then click on the Support Me button, or you could donate a new item, like a dinner for 2 certificate or really anything to be raffled off at the event.  If you are not planning to participate, I would love it if you would pass our message along to others whether it be to your church, an organization you belong to, or to another friend.

This little note has become incredible long, so if you are still reading, THANK YOU!  Here is the party I promised.   Did I mention it's a tea party?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

French Toast, Pina Colada Pops, and Gumdrops

My husband took the entire week off and yesterday we spent the day at the children's discovery center and the zoo.  It was really fun, but I guess the pollen levels are still a bit too high because my baby was miserable by the time we got home.  She was so stuffed up that she didn't fall asleep until almost eleven.  I can't wait for the trees to be done.  

I want to share a recipe from chocolate covered katie, for french toast.  In it she uses the Ezekiel cinnamon-raisin bread.  I LOVE it and it is a staple in my diet, but some of them are produced on shared equipment with tree nuts so make sure to check the labels or call the company.  I'm sure you could use any hearty bread you wanted.  Her food is always so delicious, it's worth a try right?

french toast sticks

I came across this one on pinterest.  Pina Colada Pops.  It is here, but you will have to search it out between all the other recipes there, so I'll just type it up here.

1 can pineapple chunks in juice
1 banana
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients, pour into popsicle molds, and freeze.  I'm going to try putting it in my ice cream maker and see what happens. 

Finally a recipe for homemade gumdrops.  I found this recipe at bakerella.  It looks like they might make a horrible mess of the kitchen, but I'm going to give them a try.  Hope you do too.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Favorite Dough

I have a bread recipe that I use for everything.  It makes great cinnamon bread, monkey bread, dinner rolls, and even cinnamon rolls.  So I thought I would pass it along to you, but first I have to tell you about our supper last night.  Forgive me if I have already talked about this, but it is sooooo good and really easy too.  Chicken bundles!  

All you need is 2 Pillsbury crescent sheets, 2 big cans of chicken, a tub of Tofutti better than cream cheese, onion flakes, and basil.  Put the Tofutti in a bowl and microwave it for a few seconds, just enough to soften it.  Now mix in the 2 cans of drained chicken, a sprinkle of onion and basil, and stir.  Now open your crescent sheets and cut them into 4 squares.  Plop a spoonful of chicken mixture in the middle and wrap it up.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  Please excuse the picture, my daughter reached in and swiped some chicken out right before I got the pic, so that's why it looks a bit strange, but as I said before it is really good.

OK, back to the dough.  It is super easy and I bet you already have everything you need in your house.

2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 packets of yeast
1/4 cup oil
5-6 cups of flour

In a large bowl stir the warm water and sugar until it is all dissolved.  Add in the yeast, I use Hodgson Mills Quick Rise.  Let it set for about 5 minutes.  You should see it bubbling a bit and then you know your yeast is active.  Now add in the oil, and pour in the flour one cup at a time, stirring between.  The reason I won't commit to a specific measurement of flour is because you want it to be firm and not sticky, but if you get too much flour in there, you bread may turn out dry.  What I do is start with a spoon and usually by about the fourth cup I can't stir anymore so I cover my hands in oil and just knead away at it, adding flour when I can, and stop when I can't get any more absorbed.  Now let it sit in the bowl, covered for an hour.  From here you are going to have some choices to make

For Dinner Rolls  coat your hands in oil again, and punch down the bread.  Now make ping pong sized balls and put 2 in each cup of a cupcake pan.  Cover the pans with a towel and give them about 20 minutes to rise.  Bake at 350 until the tops are golden

For Monkey Bread oil your hands, and punch down the bread.  Just like the dinner rolls, make them into balls.  What I do is take a big clump of bread and then squeeze it between my thumb and pointer finger, and then pinch it off.  Hope that makes since.  Now dip each ball in melted earth balance or whatever butter sub you like, and roll it in sugar and cinnamon.  Now place them in a bundt pan and let them rise, covered and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

For Cinnamon Bread Oil you hands and punch down the dough.  Dust your counter with flour, take half the dough and roll out a large rectangle.  Brush the dough with melted butter sub. (earth balance) and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll it up and then fold it into a bread pan.  Now do the same with the other half of the dough, as this recipe makes two loaves.  Let it rise, covered, for 20 minutes and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

For Cinnamon Rolls follow the instructions for the cinnamon bread, but for the filling melt a stick of margarine and add in sugar and cinnamon until the mixture is very thick.  I can scoop mine up with my hand. Now spread it all over your square of dough and roll it up (like the top left picture) now cut it every inch or so and lay each disk into a large greased pan.  Cover and let it rise for 20 minutes and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Pull them out when the tops are golden.

Apple Rolls are another variation on the cinnamon rolls.  My family loves them, and I do not!  I guess you can give them a try if it sounds goo to you.  Make them exactly the same as the cinnamon rolls but for the filling, you need to saute the following mixture in a skillet until it thickens, and then let it cool.  
6 diced apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp earth balance
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. cornstarch 

Oh man!  I almost forgot about the frosting.  Sometimes I use Pillsbury cream cheese frosting (contains soy) and sometimes I just mix powdered sugar with soymilk and use it as a glaze.  It's up to you.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avacado Pasta, Soynut Butter Bars, and Banana S'mores

When my daughter was first diagnosed with food allergies we didn't really change anything in our house, except my diet.  I was still nursing and I don't think that my husband or I really understood the world we had just stepped into.  Once she was old enough to start getting into everything and eating whatever she could get her hands on, I realized we had to make our house allergy free if I was going to have any sanity at all.  I would never really be able to relax at home worrying that she might pick up some crumbs off the floor, or that a table or pan might not get washed well enough.  For me, going allergy free was the only option.  Sometimes I have these cravings though.  I've been thinking about scrambled eggs for three days and I finally gave in tonight.  When my husband got home I snuck off to sonic and got a bacon scambler.  It was everything I never get eggs, toast with butter, and cheese.  YUM!  Anyone else sneak out for guilty treats?

Well, that was way off topic.  Tonight I'm starting with a dinner option, Avocado pasta.  Avocado's are a great source of unsaturated fat, fiber, potassium, and vitamins c and k.  I ate my first avocado at 26 years old and now I'm in love with them.  So here is another option for you to use on your pasta instead of spaghetti sauce  just omit the cheese.


Next up comes a recipe from Caroline at gratefulfoodie.  If you haven't checked out her blog you really should.  Read her post on being blasted in the face by peanuts when you have a few minutes.  I was horrified and laughing at the same time.  She is quite a writer, and managed to get a serious message across without any negativity.  I wish I could make a serious point without sounding accusatory, but I'm not so great with words.  Anyways, last week she posed a recipe for soynut butter squares, using WOW Butter, and you all know by now that it is my favorite. So here it is.

a piece of the soynut butter square before I tested it..

Finally is a banana s'mores recipe.  I remember one of my friends made a version of this for her milk, egg, and nut allergic son and it was a hit.  If I remember correctly, she used teddy grahams.

Easy Grilled Banana S'mores Recipe

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Granola Bars

Hi all!  Sorry I missed you yesterday.  Our weather was pretty nasty and I didn't think it was probably the best time to be plugged in to a wall.  Anyways, last week when I was at the store and found those go picnic boxes, I also found a bag of Enjoy Life Not Nuts.  It is like trail mix, but they use pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried apples and cranberries, and some other stuff.  My daughter is crazy for granola bars so I figure it's time to make my own.  We buy the Enjoy Life sunbutter ones every week and she chooses it for snack almost every day.  I'm  OK with that, since she needs the calories, but they are $4.50 at our grocery store and you only get 6 bars.  With this recipe I spent about ten bucks on ingredients, but I got 20 bars out of it.  Hope you enjoy them.

This is what you will need

1/2 c. earth balance buttery spread
1/2 c. honey
2/3 c. brown sugar
3 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. rice crispies
1 bag enjoy life not nuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla

OK, now that you have all your ingredients, mix the oats, rice crispies, and not nuts into a bowl and set them aside.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the earth balance and add in the honey and brown sugar.  Once the mixture starts to simmer, turn it down to medium heat and let it boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off the burner, mix in the vanilla, and then pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix until everything is covered and then drop it out onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  I used the smallest sheet I had. 

Wet you hands to keep the granola from sticking and flatten the mixture into the sheet.  Take your time and make sure it is really smooshed together. You will see in my picture that I didn't fill up the entire cookie sheet.  The important thing is that you make it as compact as possible, otherwise they may fall apart.  Leave them an hour or so, or until they harden up, and cut them into bars.  I found these to be very sweet, so next time I am going to cut the brown sugar down to 1/2 c. and see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Smores, Blueberry oat bars, and Vanilla cake - All wheat free too!

Hi everyone!  Sorry I missed you on Saturday.  I attempted to make a strawberry cake mix and it didn't turn out quite right.  I ran out of time to redo as I had to prepare for our Easter festivities.  

We had this taco pasta for supper tonight and it was great!   I found it on pinterest and decided to go for it.  Instead of using the cream cheese and sour cream the recipe calls for, I added a half cup of tofutti sour supreme and skipped the shredded cheese topping.  Seriously, give it a try.  I had whole wheat pasta in the house but use whatever kind you like.

Next up is something I found at the grocery store this week.  I was strolling through the health market at Hy-Vee and ran across this.  A meal that's ready to go, and doesn't have to be refrigerated!  Where have you been all my life.  It comes with Enjoy Life's not nuts mix and one of their chocolate cookies.  You also get Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers (wheat free) a tube of sunbutter and fruit chews.  This meal with definitely be accompanying us on our next day trip to see the doctor.

Now for a couple recipes.  Everyone loves s'mores right?  Because I cant think of anything better than chocolate and marshmallows.  I regularly find myself surfing around on vegan websites since their recipes are always egg and milk free.  The other night I found myself at Manifest Vegan staring at these s'more bites.  They are now on my to do list.

Another of my favorite sites to peruse is fatfreevegan.  Since I obviously eat so much crap food all the time, if I can find something healthy that tastes great I'm on it.  I'm sharing her recipe for blueberry oat bars, and am planning to eat one for breakfast tomorrow.

Blueberry-Oat Bars

See you on Saturday.  Hopefully with a few of those cake mixes worked out.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cadbury, Reese's, and Cookie Dough Eggs

Happy Easter!  
Look at this cake.  It's beautiful isn't it?

 Soon it will be that time of year where we all send our children out into the yard and community to run wild and lay claim to all the candy they can find.  Great for other kids, not so much mine.  My daughter is four now and I have found that she is finally beginning to feel left out.  My Mom is awesome.  Let me say it again, My Mom is awesome.  She has always made sure her home is "safe" and has made it a point to have treats for my daughter at all times.  However, my daughter now knows about the aisle at the store where all the candy is and she knows that she can't have 95% of it.  This year I decided to find some ways to make some of the typical Easter treats.  I found these three recipes  and figured they can be easily modified to be made safe for us. 

First up from the Whimsical Princess are Reese's Eggs.  I am going to have to substitute almost every ingredient, but I think it will still work.  For peanut butter I am using WOW butter, I am using earth balance margarine, rice milk for milk, and enjoy life chocolates.  


Next up are Cadbury Truffles I found at  I bought a plastic deviled egg tray at dollar tree and plan on molding the filling in the tray and refrigerating it and then coating them in the enjoy life chocolates.  That way I get the egg shape.  The only substitutions needed here are earth balance for butter, and enjoy life chocolates for the dairy version.


Finally, Chef Chloe brings us the perfect recipe, no subs needed.  This recipe is for chocolate chip cookie dough truffles but I am going to mold the dough in the deviled egg tray before dipping to get the right shape.  

Vegan Cookie Dough Truffles