Monday, November 29, 2010


Now that Thanksgiving is over we're focusing on preparations for Christmas.  Alexa made a few gift requests and one of these is the Easy Bake Oven by Hasbro.  I had one as a child and love it-even though it never really worked and the cakes tasted terrible, it was MY oven and I loved it!  Yesterday, Alexa received a video message from Santa which mentioned said Easy Bake Oven (I should have investigated first!).   At dinner last night, Alexa says "you know-I bet Santa will make me a special safe Easy Bake Oven, one that doesn't have anything I'm allergic to.  Do you know why? Because he makes them in his workshop with his Elves so he can make one special for me!" Yep.  I thought "oh CRAP! I screwed up!" but said, "That's good thinking Alexa, maybe Santa can do that.  We'll have to wait and see." So today woke up thinking "I hope I can pull this off!"  I went online to Hasbro to research the mixes.  I could not find the ingredients for any of the mixes (even though their customer service "help" center says they are listed there).  So, after dropping Alexa off at school, I made a special trip to Toys R Us.  I found the Easy Bake Oven and to my dismay the box says "May contain traces of Peanuts and/or Tree nuts" GREAT! Thanks Hasbro!!  I can not tell you how frustrating this is.  I literally want to cry.  I searched around the store to see if there was anything else similar that might work.  I found a "Blooming Cupcakes" kit which is safe but it's not an "oven" and I'm not sure this would be a suitable replacement since she's really more interested in the actual oven than the cakes.  This sucks. Why in the world did she have to ask for a food related toy? What is an allergy Mom to do??? So now I'm in "fix it" mode.  How can I make my little girl happy and fulfill her Christmas wish?  Option 1.) Get the Blooming Cupcake Kit without the oven and hope she's happy to have a special cupcake mix even without the oven.   2) Buy her a toaster oven, decorate it all pretty and tell her it's her "special oven".  3.) Buy the damn Easy Bake Oven (I do NOT want to give Hasbro my money!) and replace the poison cake mixes with packets of Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mix in little packets with ribbon and a note from Santa-then PRAY they cook in the damn oven.  (The box says "use only the Easy Bake oven mixes" but I'm pretty sure that's just a marketing gimmick.)   Knowing Alexa,  I think option 3 is best but I really have a hard time supporting a company that excludes an entire population of kids because they want to cheap out on manufacturing costs.  It just feels WRONG and I'm angry and disappointed.  This is just another example of how our special girl is challenged just to enjoy life as a kid without worry or being "left out".  I'm going to do more research online for other "oven" toys and try to show her the other kit and see if she is excited about it.  I'll let you know what we decide.  At least the company that makes the Blooming Cupcakes didn't exclude the peanut/nut allergic!!  Good Job Crafty Cooking kits and Thank you!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's for Thanksgiving?

I've noticed allergy bloggers discussing holiday tips and recipes this week and since I enjoy riding the band wagon-here's my allergy friendly menu.  Our meal will be free of: Peanut, Treenuts, eggs, soy, chickpeas, and all legumes (except greenbeans).

Roasted Chicken (we decided against turkey since there are 4 of us and no one is a huge fan)
Stuffing (Pepperidge Farms makes a soy free mix-thank you Pepperidge Farms!)
Mashed Potatoes (ssshhh! This year I'm buying them from Fresh Direct to save my sanity)
Gravy-home made of course
Green Beans with lemon Butter
Cranberry sauce (from a can *cringe* but it's hubbies favorite)
Grands Biscuits (yes the Pillsbury kind because my allergic girl LOVES them)
Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi (my first try-wish me luck!)
Homemade Pumpkin Pie (Cybele Pascal's recipe in her Allergy Free Baking Handbook-I bought a graham cracker crust instead of using her gluten free crust recipe)

Is that enough for 2 adults and 2 young children?  I'm full just looking at this menu!

Basic Recipes:
Roasted Chicken is easy enough.  A little salt, pepper, garlic inside and out before hand and then into the Rotisserie so it self bastes.
Stuffing: celery, mushrooms, onion, and Jones pork sausage (in place of Jimmy Dean which I could not find *sniff sniff*).  Brown up the sausage, onions, and celery.  Add this to the Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix, add desired amount of chicken broth (we use Kitchen Basics which is allergy free) and perhaps some cranberries.  Store over night and bake in the morning until heated through and yummy!
Gravy: I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you (har har har).  can't use pan scrapings since I'm doing a rotisserie chicken so I'll brown up the "innards" and neck the night before and use that as my base.  A little flour to thicken, salt, pepper, thyme and your done.
Mashed Potatoes: warm per package instructions-could THAT get any easier?
Green beans: wash, trim, steam in steamer.  Pour a small amount of melted butter with lemon over them.
Sweet Potato gnocchi: I'm hoping to get out of making these.  Basic recipe is cooked, mashed sweet potatoes mixed with flour until a dough forms.  Roll into snakes, cut into small pieces, roll with fork, freeze and boil when ready to make them.
Pumpkin Pie: follow Cybele Pascal's recipe in her Allergen Free Baker's Handbook minus the pie crust.

Enjoy your holiday everyone!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm SO confused.....

I want to first say that I like my daughter's teacher, I really do.  Despite my frustrations over the food allergy issues, I think she's a good teacher and means well.  That said, I'm so confused!! There is another class home visit ( field trip to another child's apartment) today and since I checked ahead about what would be served I decided not to go.  Before leaving school this morning I spoke with Alexa's teacher and said "I spoke with Caryn and she said if she served any food it would be something from Alexa's safe snack list.  Could you just double check the ingredients if it's something you don't recognize?"  Her response was "Sure, but we aren't going to do snacks at these home visits.  It's just too busy and there isn't time.  The kids don't usually have a morning snack anyway so I think we should just stick to the no food rule." umm Okay....GREAT!!! That's what I wanted all along! So, why in the world did she allow yesterday's family to serve crepes? Isn't that just a tad confusing to the other parents?  I mean, I'm easily confused but I think this would confuse anyone-right? Why is one family being allowed to make crepes with the kids and another is told "no food"? Doesn't she realize that there are other families who may be offended by this?  I understand the family is French and crepes are part of their family thing but isn't the Italian family going to be annoyed they can't make meatballs? Or the Asian family upset because they can't make sushi?
Here's my advice to Alexa's teacher.  Make a policy, notify the parents, AND STICK TO IT!!! You'll save yourself a lot of headaches and no one will blog about your silly flip flop policies!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Short lived victory.... much for "small victories" (see Sunday, November 7th post below).  There are 2 more home visits (field trips to children's homes) scheduled this week.  Well SURPRISE!! This morning the teacher informs me they are serving crepes at the upcoming home visit.  GREAT! Thanks! Wonderful! Fantastic and aaaarrgghgggh! Why? why? why is this necessary?  I was so happy, so excited, so relieved to have food be a non-issue at these school events and now I have to find sitter for each event, contact hosting parents, research safe recipes, make safe food, AND attend every visit.  I wish I could understand WHY they made this choice.  What's to keep all the other parents from now including food during their visit?  The teacher literally dropped this bomb on me and walked out of the classroom.  I was left standing there with my mouth open and a very confused and upset look on my face.  Looks like I will be making egg free crepes on Tuesday night.  Wonder what they are serving on Thursday? With my luck it will be some exotic, hard to make dish that I'll have pull out of my hat at the last minute.  grrrrr..... Damn food allergies!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alexa's 1st Chinese Food-Chicken Fried Rice.

Alexa was finally able try her first Chinese food.  A while ago (read months*cringe*) Cybele Pascal posted a request for allergy friendly recipe challenges for her blog on  I put in a request for anything Chinese since Alexa had been asking lately.  The challenge for the recipe was that it could not contain Peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, sesame (no longer an issue), or legumes.  Cybele posted a delicious recipe of Chicken Fried Rice and I was excited to make it.  Unfortunately, I never got around to making it because I could not easily locate the Kombu seaweed called for in the mock soy sauce.  There is a Japanese store on the Upper East side but I kept forgetting to stop in when I was in the area.  Eventually, I ordered it from while I was ordering some other allergy friendly items.  Anyway, last night was my first attempt at the recipe and I thought it went pretty well.  Alexa ate 2 bowls and Jason gave it a thumbs up.  Nick didn't eat much of it but that's typical for him.  I've attached a link to the original recipe and pictures of the dish (warning, mine is not nearly as pretty!).  I did not have onions (thought I bought them but, well, I guess not!) and I was unexpectedly out of carrots (darn those late night snacks!) but regardless of the omissions it was a hit!   I used onion salt in place of the onions and since it was not salty enough for our tastes at the end I added a dash of Lawry's Seasoned Salt when I served it.  Also, I no longer own a wok so I made mine in a skillet.  Enjoy the photos and if you try it -let me and Cybele know!
 Just the veggies
 Veggies mixed with the Fried Rice and chicken
 The verdict from Alexa
Nick's verdict-but honestly he hadn't tried it yet!

Here's the link to the original recipe

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A small victory!

On Friday morning, Alexa's teacher approached me and said "I wanted you to know we have decided not to serve snacks/food during our home visits.  It is too difficult to control and the children did not eat lunch because they had just eaten at the visit.  It's easier if we just focus on other projects."  You can imagine my relief and joy!  I will still be attending the home visit tomorrow since I was already scheduled but it is wonderful to know I don't need to stress about food being served, safe snacks being packed and others looking out for her.  Plus, now I won't have to tag along at 26 visits!! *big smile!*

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Worry Wart Wednesday

I've dubbed yesterday Worry Wart Wednesday since both children decided to challenge my sanity and parenting skills with health related and scary issues.  Nick had tummy trouble and Alexa had an allergy scare.  Alexa's school is doing "home visits" as a part of their Family study.  They visit the homes (apartments) of almost every child in the class.  The first visit was yesterday.  I was a bit concerned about not being there but a friend and mother with a peanut allergic child was attending so I felt she would be safe.  I thought I had prepared well for it.  The hosting mother and I spoke about what would be served.  I provided her with a box of CherryBrook Kitchen cake mix for safe cupcakes and we discussed her plans to serve mini hot dogs in crescent rolls.  The hot dogs have soy in them so I planned to pack a safe substitute.  I also spoke with her teacher and informed her that Alexa could eat the "yellow" cupcakes and I would provide a option for the hot dogs.  I baked some crescent rolls to pack in her backpack.  I discussed the plan with Alexa, "yes, you can eat the yellow cupcakes and frosting, but NO you can NOT eat the hot dogs".   Everyone was on the same page-or so I thought!  Bright and early yesterday morning, Nicholas woke up screaming in pain from a stomach ache.  He's been having problems so we were quite worried something serious was wrong and I rushed him off to the ER.  This meant Jason had to drop Alexa at school.  In my worry and concern for Nicholas, I completely forgot about packing Alexa's lunch, the home visit, the crescent rolls and explaining it all to Jason.  Luckily, Alexa remember and reminded him and he called my cellphone.  I asked him to pack the crescent rolls in her backpack and told him her lunch was in the fridge and assumed all was well.  Nicholas was thankfully okay.  Just very constipated and in pain.  We fixed him up and arrived home around 9:30 a.m.  By 10:00 a.m. my focus shifted back to Alexa and I began to worry.  Did her teacher know she should take her backpack with Epi Pens and snack in it??  Did the teacher and host remember she should not eat the hot dogs?  My worry continued so I emailed and texted my friend reminding her of the backpack and asking her to please be sure Alexa did not eat the hot dogs.  She did not get the messages.  At 12:30 I received a call from her telling me Alexa had, in fact, eaten the hot dogs.  My heart sank, but I knew that worst case scenario she would throw up and feel awful but be okay, for that I was grateful.  We are fortunate soy is one of her lesser allergens.  Then I started thinking, "Who was watching her at the table?" "Who put the hot dogs in front of her?" "What if the food had contained nuts?"  We could have been faced with a very different and very dangerous outcome!!   Amazingly, she didn't even get sick!  However, the realization that the food could have made her sick (or caused anaphylactic shock) is frightening and stressful.  I thought I had done my homework, covered my bases and prepped her-she should have been safe.  The lesson I learned?  You can never been too prepared and sometimes accidents happen.  I have tried so hard to ensure Alexa knows how to protect herself and stay safe.  I was surprised she ate the food without asking first (she's well versed in this and always very cautious) but you can't trust a 5 year old when they are excited and involved in a group event.  Our solution? I will attend all future home visits to ensure Alexa's safety.  It will also remove stress and worry from the hosts and the teacher so they can focus on the 27 other kids in attendance.  I'm relieved Worry Wart Wednesday is over and happy to move on to Thankful Thursday!! I can live without another day like yesterday!