Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enjoying a Final Week of Fun!

The last week of Christmas Vacation is among us!  While some of my friends are racing to get their house back in order, I am still enjoying our decorations and now have every board game we own in the living room.  We have 22 board games to date, not to mention the game systems.  Although the wii is pretty cool, I still enjoy a good old-fashioned board game with the family.  My 10 year old is really good at scrabble.  I have officially stopped the holiday baking in our house to begin the cleansing at the beginning of 2011.  Family-time doesn’t have to involve eating at our house.  Before we know it the kids will be back at school and I will have a lot on my plate on the farm.  I’m already starting to plan for the gardens, I will have to have all of our seeds ready to start in the greenhouse by the end of January.  I also have one of my goats due to kid at the end of January to early February, and that will begin my milking process again; I have missed it so much.  Last year I lost my two oldest does, Grace and Hopey, they were my first losses since starting in dairy goats.  After I cried my eyes out, I got up and started again.  My daughter still gets sad for them and knows where to visit them, but she knows that when you adopt this lifestyle that things happen.  When one life ends, another soon begins.  I look forward to that in the coming year.  Our gardens will be bigger and better this year with a full seasonal rotation and we have made our orchard even bigger with the addition of more fruit trees.  The beginning of the year holds a world of work for us, so I will cherish this last week with my family.  I will still have our decorations up and our house a disaster for one last week of fun!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Christmas is over!  I’m happy and sad about it.  I’m happy that all the extra goodies are out of the house because I am not strong enough to say no.  I’m sad because it is a beautiful time of year, I love the holidays.  The generosity, family, and love of friends, neighbors, and complete strangers seem to be more noticeable during the holidays.  This was our family’s first allergy-friendly holiday; hence the blog abandonment.  With all of the classroom, neighbor, and family parties; I felt a bit overwhelmed.  Things turned out really, really good with the baking aspect of the holidays.  I also learned that not sticking with tradition in the food department turned out really good.  Instead of the traditional side dishes of our family with the array of casseroles; I opted out.  I did make the mac-n-cheese, my son and husband would have been thoroughly disappointed if I hadn’t.  I also made stuffed mushrooms and allergy-friendly jalapeno poppers.  Oh yes I did and I will again.  One of my new favorite recipes is for the chocolate fudge I made.  It was a lot easier than I expected and very handy for all of the parties. 

The Best Chocolate Fudge


·                                 2 bags of enjoy life chocolate chips
·                                 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk.
·                                 1/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt.
·                                 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.


In a heavy bottom saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and the salt. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla. Spread evenly into a foil-lined 8 or 9-inch square pan. Chill for 3 hours, or until firm. Remove the fudge from the pan and place onto a cutting board. Remove the foil from the bottom of the fudge and cut into squares.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Ready to Change-Up the Holiday Dinner

My plan for today is to finish my Christmas shopping, Yay me!  My husband is leaving the store early so that we can head out of town to where the larger stores are.  I’m hoping to finish up both of my kids and the grandparents.  Everyone else is getting gift cards!  Then I will be able to turn my attention to our Christmas menu.  I’ve decided to change it up a bit.  I felt we went a little over-the-top with Thanksgiving, I wanted to curve away from the traditional menu a bit.  I can’t curve away too much, though.  My husband’s family is very old-fashioned.  It’s one of many things that I love about them.  They have taught me so much about our hobby farm and the ways things were done “back then”.  I made a beautiful pork tenderloin the other night with a cranberry chutney, so good.  It was so good that it got me thinking, “why not have something like this for Christmas”.  Then the wheels started turning!  My husband, son, and I love mushrooms.  Daughter can’t stand them and the rest of the family haven’t really had them.  Why not make stuffed mushrooms?  To include a favorite of my daughter and some other family members I also plan to make cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos.  Are you as excited as we are?  I’m looking forward to changing it up a bit.  We plan to keep some of the more “traditional” menu items such as the baked ham, macaroni and cheese, and deviled eggs.  Those are a must for the brother-in-law.  I have a busy weekend ahead for wrapping presents and getting ready for the classroom holiday parties.  I’m lucky this year because both kids are having pizza parties.  Thanks to Udi’s frozen pizza crusts, It’s a snap!  All I have to do then is make sure she has a few sweet treats to match her friends.  Thanks to Enjoy Life candy bars it is much easier.  I’ve decided to include my recipe for the pork tenderloin with cranberry chutney.  Enjoy!

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Chutney

Preheated oven to 350 degrees

Cranberry Chutney
1 can whole cranberry sauce
¼ cup maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon

Over low heat to reduce and thicken.

Pork Tenderloin

Baking dish
Place pork tenderloin in baking dish.  Cover top with ½ cranberry chutney.  Pour 1-1/2 cups apple cider around tenderloin.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.  Take out and leave alone for at least 10 minutes to allow meat to rest.  Serve other ½ of cranberry chutney alongside pork tenderloin.

 Charlie Brown's Tree with Blanket - Multicolor

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day in Kentucky

It’s snowing in Kentucky!  We received a couple of inches all day Sunday, therefore school is out for Monday.  So silly, but too many side roads that school buses can’t visit; or so they claim.  Being snowed in on Sunday was a great day to veg out!  We laid around and watched movies and ate fun food.  We finally watched “Grown Ups”, it was cute.  The kids and my husband begged for buffalo chicken dip, so I made it.  Super easy with my little crock pot.  Put it in and walk-away.  Stir to combine it all, and add as much or as little hot sauce as you like.  Today the kids lasted a whole 20 minutes outside sledding.  The wind chill made it feel like -5 degrees; or so the news said.  I am suffering for veg-out day yesterday by having to clean house and do the laundry, Yay me!.  Anyway, here’s a great buffalo chicken dip recipe.  We use the Mission Tortilla Chips because they don’t have soy.  My daughter also loves the Garden of Eatin’ blue corn tortilla chips.  You can’t go wrong with a good warm dip.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 cans of chicken drained (8 oz, I think)
2pkgs 8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup ranch dressing (our house Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch)
¼ cup hot sauce (we use Frank’s). or to taste because I usually add a little more.
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients into a small crock-pot and melt.  Eat with tortilla chips or whatever you like.  We use this as appetizers for parties with celery.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vegetarian on the Farm

Once a week I prepare a vegetarian meal for my family.  It’s a lot easier and more frequent in the spring, summer, and fall with all of our fresh produce in the gardens.  You can’t beat a fresh salad or pasta dish.  Our vegetarian menu is a lot different during the winter months.  The family expects warm, hearty dishes on the dinner table.  One way I can’t go wrong is with my eggplant parmesan.  My husband loves eggplant, it’s always his request when we plan the garden; that and lima beans, which I refuse.  I can’t help it, I do not like lima beans at all.  Meatless meals are a great idea for growing families.  It’s a good way to get a lot of good proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  I’ve found that if we include meat in a meal, the veggies become second choice.  Along with a meatless meal at least once a week, I only prepare dessert once a week.  If my family had dessert on a nightly basis we would all be rolling everywhere because we wouldn’t be able to walk.  I have found it a lot easier to prepare more of an ethnic menu on our vegetarian nights, lots of rice, pasta, etc.  It’s easier to go around the world when dealing with food allergies, period.  With this post I have included my version of eggplant parmesan.  Sometimes I leave the skin on and sometimes I don’t.  It is healthier to leave it on.  I pair this with a salad or simple, steamed veggies like broccoli. 

Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium eggplant – cut into ¼ -1/2 inch slices.
1 egg
¼ cup milk
1 tsp hot sauce.

*combine egg, milk, and hot sauce and whisk together to make egg wash.  Add sliced eggplant to egg wash. 

2 cups allergy-friendly Italian style bread crumbs.
1 lb. can Delmonte diced tomatoes with basil and heat over medium heat.
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese.

Remove eggplant from egg wash into bread crumbs.  Add to greasesd rack resting inside baking pan.  Cook until browned; about 20 minutes.  Remove from rack and place in bottom of baking dish, top with tomato sauce and cheese.  Heat until cheese melted and heated through.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Weather on the Farm and in the Kitchen

I have now officially started feeding my goats in the evening.  For the past two days, I have been bombarded by guineas and chickens when I feed them in the morning.  It’s ridiculous, aren’t they supposed to be afraid of me?  Therefore, I am changing it up.  The milk goats will be fed in the evening when the birds go to roost, and I will continue to throw their corn out in the mornings.  Silly, isn’t it?  But that’s part of it.  It’s getting a lot colder here in Kentucky, time for me to put the herbs to bed for the winter.  I’ll rake leaves up and cover the herb beds this week.  We’ve already winterized the well house, or I should say my husband and father-in-law did.  And next month I’ll start a few spring goodies in the greenhouse.  It’s always nice to get a head start.  We’re lucky that since hunting season is still going, we’ve had a lot of fresh meat to put up.  This year I plan to attempt rabbit sausage.  I’m excited about it; I’ve already planned to possibly add sage or rosemary?  Not sure, yet.  With this time of the year also come hearty dinners for the family.  I’m excited to share this shrimp and grits recipe.  Even though we are located in Western Kentucky, I love Cajun-style cuisine.  My dad worked for the union when I was growing up and we moved around a lot.  For a while, we lived in Louisiana; my mother hated it.  She loved the sights, but disliked the unfamiliarity of it with the food and language.  She learned to absolutely love the food and still continues to favor red beans and rice to this day.   I, also, love anything with rice and beans, and anything truly southern; which is exactly what shrimp and grits is to me.  My husband didn’t grow up eating a lot of the food that he now enjoys, my children will definitely be able to say that we went for it with eclectic, ethnic, and traditional foods. 

Shrimp & Grits

1 lb shrimp cleaned, deveined, I cut the tails off
¾ cups grits
1 ½ cups water or stock
1 ½ cups milk or heavy cream plus extra if needed.
2 tbs butter divided
¼ tsp salt
1 small onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 small tomato seeded and chopped
2 cups shredded cheese
Cajun seasoning or make your own

1 tbs butter to skillet to cook onions and peppers until a little more than translucent.  Add seasoning to shrimp and coat well, set aside.  Add water or stock to pot and bring to boil, add grits, milk, and butter while continuously stirring.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add shredded cheese and stir until combined and cheese melted. May need to add extra milk or cream to keep desired consistency.  Add shrimp and chopped tomatoes to onions and peppers and cook until shrimp is just done
( pink and starts to curl).  Spoon cheesy grits into bowl and add desired shrimp mixture and enjoy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Allergy Free Kitchen Chicken

I am so much more comfortable in my kitchen.  Those first few months were really tough!  It’s great to make the leap and make your kitchen an allergy free kitchen; catered to your food allergies.  The only food with allergies are the few goodies my son really enjoys.  The rest of the time, the only ingredients I have to choose from are those the entire family can enjoy.  It’s wonderful not to feel overwhelmed or stressed looking through ingredients, not to mention the huge health benefits for the entire family.  Everything in the kitchen is a lot more colorful.  Today is a Monday in Kentucky.  It is snowing and 20 degrees outside.  I actually wore my coveralls when I went to the barn to feed this morning.  The chickens and guineas attacked the feed for my goats which makes me have to feed again this evening once they go to roost and the milk goats can eat the feed.  Ahh, life on the farm!  I have a full day of laundry for the family and I have to make about 3 pounds worth of chicken nuggets for my daughter.  I make a huge batch at one time and keep in a huge freezer bag, that way I have enough to allow me not to make them but once every couple of months.  Her school has chicken nugget day every Wednesday.  Since I’m cooking with chicken all day, I might as well carry it through for tonight.  But I’m looking for an easier recipe since I can see how much I have to do today.  One easy recipe I made up one weeknight was a “potato chip chicken”.  I had chicken to cook, but was really wanting to do something completely different with it.  I had a full bag of potato chips in the pantry, so why not?  My husband and kids ended up loving it.  It’s not something I have made very often, because we don’t keep a lot of potato chips in the house.  I have found it so much easier to make sure my family are making good food choices, I don’t buy the junk.  This way, if they really want cookies, potato chips, etc., we have to make them.  I find they appreciate them much more when we make them homemade, plus I know what the ingredients are, and we aren’t having them on a daily basis.  It’s a win-win situation.  I am excited to share this super simple potato chip chicken recipe.

Potato Chip Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half or tenderloins
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
Hot sauce
4 cups crushed allergy free potato chips ( I use Wavy Lay’s)

Combine in bowl: 3 eggs, ¼ cup milk, dash of salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Flatten chicken with smooth side of meat tenderizer to ¼ inch thickness.  Add chicken to egg wash and then coat with crushed potato chips.  Add to medium high skillet to brown on both sides.  Tip:  when chicken is placed in skillet do not turn but once to help prevent potato chips from falling off.

I discovered this recipe on a whim when I couldn’t decide what to do with my chicken.  It ended up being a huge hit with my family!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snacks through the Holidays

‘Tis the season for the busy holidays!  We always have something going on, whether we are participating in holiday events around town, school activities, or family visiting for the holidays.  As a parent, I have to make sure I keep quick snacks on hand that are flexible and easy to keep handy.  One item I always keep on hand is granola.  I keep it in a huge glass jar in the kitchen, she eats it on her yogurt, pours a little milk over it as a breakfast in itself, or a baggy full as a snack.  This time of year I have to be a little more creative with snack-time.  The only fruit in-season has been apples and persimmons here in Kentucky.  Spring and Summer snacks are easier because our orchard is full of berries, grapes, melons, etc.  We started our own vegetable garden a few years ago and have grown to a small orchard and herb garden as well.  If we buy produce we only buy local or as local as we can, and do the same with juices.  I don’t buy from outside of the U.S. at all.  If that’s the only option then we take a different route altogether.  My husband was the one who really pushed for that, he thought that if we couldn’t get it in our area then it wasn’t too necessary for us to have it.  We did expand that to include the U.S. altogether to have more options for our family.  I am currently trying to expand on our snack repertoire with more fall and winter snacks that continue to be healthy.  Lots of cracker recipes and granola are kept in the kitchen.  I wanted to share my fall-themed granola recipe with the readers.
‘Tis the season for the busy holidays!  We always have something going on, whether we are participating in holiday events around town, school activities, or family visiting for the holidays.  As a parent, I have to make sure I keep quick snacks on hand that are flexible and easy to keep handy.  One item I always keep on hand is granola.  I keep it in a huge glass jar in the kitchen, she eats it on her yogurt, pours a little milk over it as a breakfast in itself, or a baggy full as a snack.  This time of year I have to be a little more creative with snack-time.  The only fruit in-season has been apples and persimmons here in Kentucky.  Spring and Summer snacks are easier because our orchard is full of berries, grapes, melons, etc.  We started our own vegetable garden a few years ago and have grown to a small orchard and herb garden as well.  If we buy produce we only buy local or as local as we can, and do the same with juices.  I don’t buy from outside of the U.S. at all.  If that’s the only option then we take a different route altogether.  My husband was the one who really pushed for that, he thought that if we couldn’t get it in our area then it wasn’t too necessary for us to have it.  We did expand that to include the U.S. altogether to have more options for our family.  I am currently trying to expand on our snack repertoire with more fall and winter snacks that continue to be healthy.  Lots of cracker recipes and granola are kept in the kitchen.  I wanted to share my fall-themed granola recipe with the readers.

Fall-Themed Granola

3 cups of oats
1 cup sunflower seeds raw
¾ cup flaxseed
1 stick of butter
2 tbs local honey
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs cocoa
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom

Melt butter, add honey, brown sugar, and cocoa.  Combine other ingredients in large bowl.  Add liquid ingredients and combine well.  Spread onto large, greased baking sheet and heat @ 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Leave out until cooled and add to storage container – enjoy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Thanksgiving Re-cap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!  It was our first being allergy friendly, and I cooked for everyone; hence the blog hiatus the past few days.  I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of preparing an allergy-friendly Thanksgiving to the extended and immediate family.  Around here, you don’t change up Thanksgiving, we are all about tradition; and that’s exactly what I did.  We opted not to travel to my hometown this year to visit the extended family on my side; they were not very understanding of our predicament.  My father assumed that we would just bring a separate meal for our daughter, he didn’t understand that we don’t segregate our food in our family.  I didn’t think it would be much of a holiday meal if everyone wasn’t treated the same.  With that in mind, I started preparing the menu with some of our family favorites of turkey, ham, stuffing, mac-n-cheese, broccoli casserole, sweet potatoes, and a fabulous vanilla bean cheesecake.  With some fabulous additions from my mother-in-law, we were set.  The day before Thanksgiving I was hoping to take the kids to the movies and relax, but that went out the window when I started my prep.  I tried to get as much done ahead of time as I could to ease the following day; I ended up being awake till one in the morning with my cheesecake.  So tired the following day, but I take my cheesecakes very seriously.  Anyone who has made one before knows that you cannot just shock them into a different temperature or they will crack.  You have to pre-heat the oven, the ingredients need to be room temperature, and then you pay attention to the baking process.  When it starts to brown around the outside of the top, keep the oven door closed while turning the oven off.  When the cheesecake top is set, no jiggle room, I crack the oven door to allow a continued decrease in temperature.  When my cheesecake is room temperature it can be placed in the fridge.  The temperature slowly decreasing and the water bath it bakes in make for the creamiest cheesecake ever.  So yummy!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

4 packages 8 oz. cream cheese
5 eggs
16 oz. sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 in. vanilla bean; split and scrape out beans.
¼ cup orange juice; pulp free.
2 tbs corn starch

Make sure ingredients start off at room temperature, it makes for a very creamy finish.  Start with your cream cheese to mixing bowl, add sugar and beat on low, add sour cream and orange juice slowly.  Add Corn starch and eggs one at a time, combining eggs before adding the next, add vanilla.  Do not over mix.  Pour mixture over crust of your choice in spring form pan wrapping with aluminum foil.  Add mixture to water bath and bake in 325 degree preheated oven.  When top of cheesecake starts to brown, keep oven closed and turn heat off.  The rest of cheesecake will slowly set up.  Keep oven door cracked to decrease heat more once cheesecake center is set.  When cooled to room temperature, can place in fridge.  Super creamy, a fave of my family’s.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not A Tip-Toe Kind of Gal!

I am not being silly!  That is what I keep telling myself, anyway.  If I so much as mention food allergies or the snacks options around us, the other parents go into defense mode.  Why is that?  My husband whom is my biggest fan; he tells me to deal with it.  No, really.  Deal with it because no one wants to talk about it or deal with it- except us. 
Why is that?  I don’t understand why people are so defensive about their own food choices and why I should have to tip-toe around it.  I’m not a tip-toe kind of gal, and I don’t want to be.  With that said, however, am I being too obnoxious to the outside world with what I’m doing at home?  Am I too involved at school?  My children attend public school, and they do not provide my daughter anything to eat because of her food allergies.  By state law they are supposed to provide her with a well-balanced meal everyday for lunch.  When we spoke with the head of food services, she allowed us to look through their food/menu options.  None of which she could have.  Therefore, I was allowed to bring a microwave into her classroom for the year and provide her lunch daily.  I assured her teachers that whatever was to come up with classroom parties, treats, etc., just email and I will provide her with an allergy-friendly version.  I thought all this was a good thing, but maybe not. 
When dealing with school and sporting events, the other parents act like I’m making it up or something.  My daughter doesn’t want everyone to know she has food allergies, she’s 8, and so I just bring her own snacks and be done with it.  The other parents get defensive that maybe I don’t think their snacks or treats are good enough.  Are you serious?  First of all, they usually aren’t good enough because it’s usually junk food.  Even before we had food allergies I was the mom bringing the fruit, and I still am even now.  You would think with the emphasis on health in today’s society that more parents would be doing so, but that is not the case in this area.  I tried speaking to the principal.  She looked at me and asked what I would like her to do for us because more fruit was not an option due to money.  What?  I don’t agree with that at all, but who am I except a lowly housewife and mom.  No one important to them.  Well, maybe I can make a change somehow, even if it’s just through all of you readers. 
I would love to hear some of your stories, ideas, and input.  Even if you don’t have a challenge of food allergies, are you an advocate for healthier choices?  What about the olden days when the “treats” were a sticker or pencil?  I thought that was great, why not try that route.  More is not necessarily better.

Friday, November 19, 2010

When in doubt, go with fruit!

Seriously.  When in doubt, go with fruit.  I am the mother of a child with multiple food allergies and no one ever takes her restrictions into consideration.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect the world to revolve around our needs, it would be nice, but I’m not a fool.  What would help is the daily, routine activities we are involved in would be more flexible than they currently are.  I’m sure all parents of children with food allergies probably feel the same way; at least I hope they do.  The more allergies a person have the more restrictions. 
       We have dealt with health issues for my daughter, my youngest, since conception.  She didn’t even wait until she was born; it was very difficult from the beginning.  We have been faced with a lot of challenges, and it has made me into a force to be reckoned with.  I tend to just be “okay, just tell me what we need to do and I’ll get it done” type of person.  I’m not the wait and see person by any means.  I knew from very early in my pregnancy that we would be faced with some challenges, and I have not been disappointed.  I am a very lucky person, I have her here and she is a very happy, active little girl.  Even though we live in a rather small town, a lot of people have never realized any of the challenges that we have had as a family.  We’re not those people, never have been.  We live on a small farm and tend to keep everything close to home.  I, personally, wonder if that’s why things are more difficult since the food allergy diagnosis this year. 
       Before starting school this year, we spoke with the principal and school nurse regarding the new food allergy diagnosis.  We were, fortunately, able to place a microwave in her classroom to be used for her food only.  Even though, by law, her school is supposed to provide her lunch, I don’t trust them.  I make her lunch everyday.  Unfortunately, everything in our society is still revolved around food.  It’s something different every week.  A fractions project with a Hershey chocolate bar, which she can’t have.  A cookie dough project, with grocery store refrigerated cookie dough, which she can’t have.  A cooking club that she, her best friend, and brother really want to join and they call me the night before with the menu.  I’m left looking like a grump because I’m scrambling to find allergy-friendly options for her to have that are equal to what her friends will be having, so she doesn’t feel different.  I stay pretty tightly wound cooking, researching, and trying to educate. 
       I needed a support system so badly, but there wasn’t one available in my area.  Which was troubling, we have a rather large hospital and university, but there was nothing.  Therefore, I started one because I’m the “making lemons into lemonade” girl.  I have close to 40 members of gluten free KY group on facebook, and a steady number who attend the monthly food allergy support group meetings.  They have helped with support, but our area doesn’t provide very much for the allergy friendly.  There is only one restaurant we can eat at, and what they do have available at the grocery store is outrageous in price.  I just want to scream, when in doubt, go with fruit!  It’ll be much easier. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Different Kinda Pumpkin Recipe

I have come up with a great recipe of meatballs with pumpkin puree, believe it or not.  They are incredibly yummy and very tender.  I came upon this recipe because I had just enough pumpkin puree leftover to make something really yummy, but not enough to warrant keeping.  This particular day, my husband and son were gone deer hunting while my daughter and I spent some quality time in the kitchen.  She recently turned eight years old and is very interested in learning about her newly diagnosed food allergies.  We look through cookbooks and try to think of different foods to prepare that will be easy on her dietary restrictions.  On this cold, cloudy day we decided pasta and meatballs were such a food.  We prepared spaghetti style rice noodles, meatballs with pumpkin puree, and a brown butter sage sauce.  Needless to say, dinner was very rich and filling.  The pumpkin was not overpowering at all, and added a very velvety texture to the already tender meatballs.  My daughter went out to our herb garden and gathered a number of sage leaves to prepare flavored oil; we appreciated the brown butter sage sauce more! 

Pumpkin Meatballs

3 lbs ground beef 80/20
½ tsp ground sage
Small onion chopped and browned in skillet.  I use my iron skillet
2 tbs. pumpkin puree
3 eggs
½ cup allergy free bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix to combine.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out meatballs to a little larger than golf balls.  Brown in same skillet as onions was done in.  Brown on two sides and add to baking dish in oven and cook until done – about 20 minutes.  I combine with pasta and a brown butter sage sauce.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sorghum Baked Custard

Sorghum Baked Custards

8 large egg yolks
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tablespooon sorghum
3 cups milk or 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream – what I use depends on what I have in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Arrange 6 ramekins in a baking dish – I use small jam jars.  In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, brown sugar, salt, and sorghum.  Set aside.  In a saucepan, bring the cream and/or milk to just under or at a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add cup of milk mixture to yolk mixture and whisk, continue whisking and add yolk mixture to rest of milk mixture.  I use a funnel to add mixture to ramekins for easier control and less mess.  Fill baking dish half full with water around ramekins, cover tops with aluminum foil, and add to pre-heated oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until butter knife is inserted into one of ramekins and comes out clean.  Take out of oven and set to side to cool.  When room temperature, remove foil topping and add a little sorghum to top.  You can eat at cool, room temperature, or warm in oven just before serving.  My kids also enjoy a topping of whipped cream just before digging in. 

A Super Simple Dessert

Beginning our allergy free lifestyle a few months ago made for some of our more traditional dishes being deleted for a while.  Not for good, but for a while!  Our Kentucky-style dessert menu contains a lot of pies and my favorite, bread pudding.  I wanted to conquer a new dessert for my family yesterday, and I won! 

Desserts can be overwhelming with an allergy-free lifestyle change.  You have to supplement a lot of ingredients for what used to be simple recipes.  That can be a tough change to make, at least it was for me.  I found myself buying a lot of pre-made sweets for the house, something I never did before.  For a healthier change a few years ago, I eliminated sweets from the house.  I would make dessert once or twice a week, and that was it.  It was an awesome change when the kids were younger because they were reaching for the fruit and appreciated the homemade desserts.  I found that if we had cookies or ice cream in the house consistently, they would get eaten consistently.  That’s not a healthy lifestyle for us.  I am slowly but surely making the homemade desserts for us again.  When my dairy goats were being milked,  I was making a lot of homemade frozen custard thanks to my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment.  That thing is awesome!  This year I lost my oldest girl, Grace and my bigger girl, Heidi, is newly bred.   Therefore, no goat milk until she kids. 

When considering our favorite desserts yesterday, I remembered how easy it was to make my frozen custard.  I considered how great it would be for the boys to come home from their deer stand to warm, baked custards.  SOLD!  My daughter and I got to work considering what we had in the pantry and fridge for ingredients.  One thing we always have is sorghum molasses.  I love it!  It’s one of those ingredients that we tend to always have because it’s not something you use all the time.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed with this dessert.  I, shockingly, got it right the first time.  I made the dessert first and moved the jars to a cooling rack while I made dinner.  While the family was enjoying their pasta and meatballs made with pumpking and brown butter sage sauce, oh yeah!  Recipe to come on that one.  I had the oven on warm and just reheated the custards through.  One thing I did not have was ramekins.  Instead, I used my small jam jars and the jars that came with my yogurt machine.  Pretty simple and delicious!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just a Note

I have been so incredibly blessed since starting my Food Allergy Support Group.  We meet monthly and I have gained such a support system in them.  We have been lucky enough to receive samples to try from Pamela's, Katz, Udi's, Kinnikinnick's, and most recently Namaste Foods.  We have enjoyed these so much!  Being in a smaller town, there is not a lot out there in our faces to try.  Most of these members had not tried a lot of these companies.  It is such a blessing to have them so willing to send us samples and literature to further educate ourselves and our families.
Most recently, we received samples from Namaste Foods.  They are an allergy free company whom prepare dry mixes for purchase in specialty stores in our area of Kentucky.  In our shipment we received Chocolate Cake Mix and Toffee Vanilla Frosting mix.  I made cupcakes to share to our members and encouraged everyone else to bring an allergy free treat as well.  It was our last meeting of the year due to the busy holiday season ahead.  The cupcakes were a hit!  I have already received notification from some of our members who have located and bought the mixes in hopes of sharing with their families over the holidays.  Good News!  
I hope my support group, blog, upcoming books, and family continue to thrive in this allergy free lifestyle in the oncoming year.  My daughter was diagnosed with her allergies this past July at 7 years old.  We continue to have  daily struggles at home and with our public school system and family.  I hope to continue to advocate to our local restaurants and school system to include food allergies in their daily menus and schedules.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hill Family Potatoes

With the colder months coming in, my family enjoys more comfort food.  Our family never stops – be it with sports, our animals, entertaining, or the farm.  When the activity level doesn’t slow down, I need to make sure they are eating plenty of warm, hearty meals.  This recipe is extremely thrifty, which I am all about.  It is exactly how I learned to cook, as well.   My husband and I were very young when we got married and started our family.  We were, literally, living paycheck to paycheck for what felt like a really long time.  I could either spend thirty dollars on a few pizzas to last a night, or I could buy flour, beans, etc. and learn to make my pasta and other things.  This is how I learned to garden.  I still continue to learn about the different fruits and vegetables that I grow.  This past year was my first time growing potatoes, and boy did I get that one right.  We continue to have tons of little red potatoes to use up. 

Hill Family Potato Hash

6 red potatoes  cut in half, then cubed.
1 ring of smoked sausage cut into coins
3 small onions cut into rings
your favorite breading for onion rings – we use a Cajun style corn meal breading.
3 eggs with 1/3 cup milk for egg wash
Salt and pepper to taste.

Put onion rings in egg wash, breading, and fry in corn oil until golden brown.  Place on paper towel to drain excess oil.  Add sausage coins to skillet on medium high heat until browned, remove from skillet onto paper towel to drain excess oil – leaving remaining fat in skillet.  Add potatoes to remaining fat in skillet and cook until browned and fork tender.  Combine potatoes and sausage and top with onion rings.  A great family-style meal. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Family's Mac and Cheese

It’s time to start thinking about favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  My family is excited to have one of our favorites – My Ky hot brown macaroni and cheese casserole.  I make it on special occasions.  It’s definitely not a once-a-week type of casserole.  I usually surprise them on  the occasional Saturday, and definitely on Thanksgiving.  The Kentucky Hot Brown is my favorite sandwich of all time, it was only fair that I turn it into a casserole.  Try it at your own risk!  I guarantee it becoming a favorite family meal.

KY Hot Brown Mac and Cheese Casserole.

Thick cut baked ham cut into pieces.
Turkey breast cut into pieces.
Cooked bacon cooked into pieces.
Fresh, sliced tomatoes
Cooked and drained macaroni.

Cheese Sauce
½ stick butter melted
Flour- mix to make a roux.  I use Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour.
Stir in heavy cream
Add cheese.  Mix until melted.

Mix everything together.  Add sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake until browned on top. 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Breakfast of Champioins!!

This has been the weekend of the Breakfasts!  A busy weekend Saturday filled with Basketball double-headers and a last soccer game and celebration called for a good morning start of western omelets.  Sunday was a day filled with riding four-wheelers through wooded trails and finished with horseback riding through the fields, a start of pumpkin pancakes with homemade cinnamon butter and maple syrup.  Yummy!  Days such as these call for a big, hearty start because you never know when you’ll be able to stop again.  We usually don’t stop again to eat until we’re enjoying an early dinner making up for lost time.  No one wants to stop for lunch when you’re having this much fun! 

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup Gluten Free Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 tbs oil
1 egg
¼ cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients, add by heaping tablespoons to medium high skillet.  I add 2 heaping tablespoons per one pancake.  Flip when starting to bubble on sides.  Keep oven on warm temperature with plate on top rack, add pancakes to plate to keep warm.

Cinnamon butter

½ stick softened butter
2 tsp cinnamon

Combine well, goes great on pumpkin pancakes with 100% pure maple syrup.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making Family-Style Easier

I love to cook, I really do.  I’m just a busy mom who doesn’t have time to make homecooked meals on a daily basis.  The best for my family are meals that are either simple to put together or meals that I can make in advance and freeze for later use.  Most of my recipes are exactly that, either super easy with make ahead ingredients or family-style casseroles to be frozen.  Sunday is usually my cooking day at home.  If nothing is planned, I’m usually found in the kitchen making chicken nuggets or soup.  My family doesn’t have the luxury of being able to stop and pick something up quick to eat on busy nights.  Food allergies have greatly limited our restaurants, which is a blessing in disguise.  Our family is eating a lot healthier, and the money we are saving goes into the higher priced allergy friendly foods. 
        If anyone is looking to better prepare their family meals I would say to figure out a day that is good for you to plan to cook.  I would also invest in freezer containers of all sizes, they’re great because they are reusable as well.  Pick a bag of beans every week and prepare simply.  You can always add flavor and spices, you can’t take away.  Prepare and freeze in small batches that fit your family size.  You can add to soups, casseroles, or prepare alone.  I do also buy the aluminum pans with lids that can be used to freeze casseroles and reheat in oven.  They are typically not reusable, but they are inexpensive.  Keep corn tortillas in the fridge, they can be layered for casseroles and you can always make a quick quesadilla for snack time. 

Mexican Tortilla Casserole

Corn tortillas to cover bottom of 9x13 in. pan
4 chicken legs boiled
6 pack of chorizo sausage with casings removed.
1 ½ cups of frozen corn.
2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese
½ bag prepared black beans.
Enchilada sauce – canned or homemade.
Sour cream and/or guacamole for garnish.

Place chicken legs in stock pot and add water until just covered.  Heat on stove on medium heat for 30 – 40 minutes.  Remove chicken to cool.   Add chorizo sausage without casings to skillet on medium heat and cook until browned then drain off fat.  Add shredded chicken meat to cooked sausage.  Add frozen corn, prepared black beans, and enchilada sauce then pour over corn tortillas. Cover top with cheese and cook at 350 degrees until bubbly.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick Comfort Food

Today is a day for comfort food.  It's Election Day and the kids are sleeping in while I'm up with the chickens drinking my daily ritual of coffee.  A lazy day at home will be warranted after still resting up from the holiday weekend.  My son will be running in and out of the house all day while continually adding things to his tree house, and my daughter will inevitably be in the field with her horses.  When daddy gets home from work will can enjoy a big bowl of hearty red beans and rice before preparing to finish the rest of the week.  I lived in Louisiana as a child and love me some cajun food, this is a toned-down version for my family.  Not too spicy and not too difficult to make.  Perfect for the busy family or the one who just wants to hang out.Lodge L Series Enamel 6 Quart Dutch Oven, Patriot Red

Red Beans and Rice

One bag of red beans – soaked overnight.
2 cups of brown rice
Smoked sausage ring – halved lengthwise and sliced.
1 ½ cups chopped thin okra
1 small squash quartered and sliced thin
Tony’s Cajun seasoning.
Stock or Broth – I make my own from end pieces of chicken I store in the freezer and a piece of ham hock.

I cook the sausage first – brown in skillet and remove into separate bowl.  Cook okra and squash mixture in drippings until browned well and crisped up a little.  Combine drained beans and rice into pot and cover with stock.  Cook until tender.  Drain rice and beans.  Add sausage, squash, and okra.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning.  Stir well and enjoy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cooking Allergy Free: Tips for an Allergy Free Kitchen

Cooking Allergy Free: Tips for an Allergy Free Kitchen: "Tips for the allergy free kitchen:We cannot use cooking spray due to the soy content – I used this to my advantage by making vario..."

Tips for an Allergy Free Kitchen

Tips for the allergy free kitchen:
  1. We cannot use cooking spray due to the soy content – I used this to my advantage by making various flavored oils to keep beside the stove.  It’s easy to do.  I buy our allergy free oil in bulk and place in small sauce pans on the stove.  Add favorite herbs and/or spices to oil and simmer for an hour.  I buy the oil bottles and add oil and at least one piece of herb to help identify.  I usually keep a silicone brush beside the stove to brush oil in cooking vessels that will need it.  It’s easy to do and adds a little more flavor. 
  2. Do the same with your vinegar!  As well as the oils, I also add herbs and/or fruits to plain vinegar.  Seal into mason jar and shake periodically for a few days, the longer it sits the stronger the flavor will be.  Strain into bottles for storage.  These are great for those salad dressings you have to make.  My daughter’s favorite combination for salads are the lemon vinegar with the basil oil.  Add to small jam jar with a bit of salt and cracked pepper.  Keep in fridge and shake to combine before pouring.  I love making these different combinations.  They are great for pasta salads and potato salads as well. 
  3. I use Method Cleaners in my house.  They are completely non-toxic and smell great!  My kids are to the age where we are starting chores and allowances for such.  These are perfect for them, I don’t have to worry about her allergies or hypersensitivity with these products.
  4. Accessibly storage.  I learned this the hard way.  The more food allergies you are challenged with, the more ingredients are involved with everyday cooking.  I bought large clear jars and containers to store the different flours, starches, beans, and rices in.  They are now labeled and placed on a shelf within easy reach.  It makes for easier cooking as well as being rather decorative.  If you have already discovered favorite mixes, buy in bulk and store in containers.  It’s also a great way to store your favorite homemade granolas!
  5. Write down your recipes.  If you are like me, I love to try new things.  Sometimes they are great, sometimes not so much.  My husband always makes the statement that if it’s good, I probably won’t make it again.  He was right!  I can’t tell you how many times I have found great combinations and never thought to write it down.  Nowadays, I have a little notebook on my kitchen counter that is full of little notes for recipes.

I am definitely not an expert!  I am just a mom who tries very hard to do and know as much as I can.  It’s my nature, I like to control things and this is my way of having a say in the kitchen.  These tips may  not work for everyone, but they may lead to something that will.  

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cooking Allergy Free: Getting Ready for the Halloween Parties

Cooking Allergy Free: Getting Ready for the Halloween Parties: "Eating Allergy Free has become a part of our everyday. Sure, I still keep a bag of pizza rolls in the freezer for my son and his friends, a..."

Getting Ready for the Halloween Parties

Eating Allergy Free has become a part of our everyday.  Sure, I still keep a bag of pizza rolls in the freezer for my son and his friends, and a package of wheat bread for the rest of the family.  That's all, though.  So, today is their Halloween parties at school.  Fun!  My son is in 5th grade and they are having a small 30 minute end of the school day party.  I made rice krispie treats with frosted Kellogg's Rice Krispies and cut them out to look like ghosts.  Rice krispie treats are a great allergy friendly treat as long as you buy the name brand, the generic brand has soy in their ingredients.
 My daughter is younger and her Halloween party is scheduled to be for an hour and a half the last part of her school day.  A pizza party will ensue, not a great thing for those with food allergies, but a lot easier to manage.  I use Udi's pizza crust and make her own pizza that I can take to school with the party.  That way, she's enjoying the same thing as her friends.  That's the most important thing, that she doesn't feel different.  I also made Rice Krispie treats for her class using her Sunbutter and cut them out to be pumpkins.  The Sunbutter gave them a great orange(y) color.  I added a heaping tablespoon to the marshmallow-butter mix before adding to Rice Krispies.  I also found Cherrybrook Kitchen sugar cookie mix.  She could have it, I was so excited.  No soy!  I found some allergy friendly candy to make up a goodie bag for just her - starburst gummies and pixie sticks with a chocolate candy bar from Enjoy Life.  They are a little pricey, but to have as a treat for times like this is truly great!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cooking Allergy Free: An Allergy Free Halloween - KY style.

Cooking Allergy Free: An Allergy Free Halloween - KY style.: "Designing a Halloween party for the family and friends has been quite the experience. It's our first Allergy Free holiday! A good trial fo..."

An Allergy Free Halloween - KY style.

Designing a Halloween party for the family and friends has been quite the experience.  It's our first Allergy Free holiday!  A good trial for the upcoming holidays.  A small Halloween party is planned in lieu of trick-or-treating, complete with hayride, apple bobbing, chili, hotdogs, apple cider, and roasting marshmallows.  I debated on giving goodie bags with allergy free candy, but ended up deciding against it.  Our society does too much with food anyways.  I would rather give halloween themed fun stuff - pencils, stickers, etc.  What's so wrong with that anyways?
I'm looking forward to making some fun stuff to eat for the kiddos.  I'm making a monstery mac 'n cheese, the kids are gonna love it.
When heating the water to add the rice pasta, add green food coloring!  The pasta will come out green, the more you add, the deeper the color!  So fun.  Cheese sauce starts with beschamel made from melted butter and flour to make roux (sorghum or allergy free all purpose),add milk to thin roux a bit and remove flour-y taste,  then adding white cheddar cheese.  Add more food coloring to white cheese sauce to make it yummy green fun. You can always get really brave and fun with the smaller kids and add broccoli florets or sweet peas.  The kids will love it and get to eat healthy and not even realize it.  http://cookingallergyfreekitchen.com

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A great rainy weekend

With a rainy, fall weekend upon us - staying in is a great way for us to relax.  Weekends such as this, we enjoy big bowls of soup while watching movies or reading books.  A new favorite for our family is this Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato soup.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbs olive oil
1 red chili pepper - seeded and chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1 lb butternut squash
2-3 sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs tahini

Cut the squash in half and scoop seeds out.  poke with fork, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in 350 degree oven until soft.  Scoop flesh out and add into bowl.
Add olive oil into warm skillet, add chili pepper and onion and stir until softened.  Into stock pot add vegetable stock and peeled diced potatoes.  Cook until fork tender.  Add squash, onions, peppers, and tahini to pot.  Stir until combined well.  Add to food processor in small batches and pulse until smooth.