Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

Spring has arrived…

spring crocuses blooming

…and Easter is fast approaching!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

Another holiday is upon us…for those of us with food allergies…it can be rather stressful!

Family and friends getting together to celebrate usually means food will be involved.

Hence…the stress!

In the beginning, my eldest son, Michael, could not consume wheat, dairy, egg or soy products. This made baking a nightmare!

Remember, this would have been 16 years ago…not much was known about celiac disease and gluten intolerance or food allergies in general.

Groceries stores did not stock alternate beverages to milk, Enjoy Life did not exist, nor did many of the great companies out there for those with food allergies and/or intolerances.

Basically, you were on your own when it came to conjuring up alternate ‘treats’ for your food allergic child. I have to admit…at that time, baking without gluten was not easy. Imagine a teething baby, chewing on a Molasses Rice Cookie…what was I thinking!

I was quite happy when Michael was able to tolerate wheat in his diet once again. Dairy, egg and peanut/tree nuts must still be avoided.

Why am I baking a gluten-free Easter Cookie?

I have a friend, whose 2-year-old son, reminds me of the troubles I faced when Michael was a baby. He has severe eczema and multiple food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies.

His mother and father are overwhelmed with all the information out there, confused as to how to feed their son and yearn to have him enjoy the ‘trappings of celebrating’ like every young child around him!

This Easter post, as well as the my Easter posts to follow, are dedicated to her son and to all those parents with children who are struggling to ‘put the pieces together’ as they navigate their way through a world of eczema and food allergies.

I personally wanted her son to experience that feeling of ‘excitement’ by enjoying a tasty allergen friendly treat at Easter. Too many times, my boys have felt ‘left out’ when it comes to ‘special treats’ at the holidays.

Every child deserves to feel ‘special’!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies

This recipe was adapted from the recipe on the back of Club House’s All Natural Gluten Free Rice Flour.

I thought a basic Shortbread Cookie in a fun Easter shape would appeal to a 2- year- old. I felt the ingredients were simple enough to find at your local grocery store. I was also curious to see how they would turn out using just rice flour.

1 cup Gluten Free Rice Flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Sticks (for a soy free version use Earth Balance Soy Free Spread)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together the rice flour and xanthan gum.
In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and sugar.
Stir in the vanilla.
Gradually, stir in the rice flour mixture until all combined.
Using your hands, form the dough into a ball.
Roll out the ball of dough on a lightly rice floured surface until 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out using desired cookie cutters and place cookies on a silicone or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Rolled out dough with cookie cutters

Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake at 350 F for 14-16 minutes. Mine took 13 minutes.
Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Corn and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies cooling on rack

Enjoy!

Tip 1: Icing sugar contains cornstarch, as my friend’s son needs to avoid corn, I sprinkled a little bit of sugar and/or cinnamon sugar on some of the cookies before baking as a simple decoration.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookie with Cinnamon Sugar

Tip 2: Cookies can also be dipped in melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yummy!

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Shortbread Easter Cookies dipped in melted Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Tip 3: I tried baking one batch with Coconut Oil. Very tasty…but extremely delicate! The egg-shaped cookies seemed to resist ‘cracking’ the best…go figure! Perhaps next time I will try rolling them a little thicker. Any tips?

P.S. My boys were not so sure of the texture of the rice flour and found the cookies a bit bland. Then again, they have had exposure to all-purpose flour treats and are a little biased! We all like the cookies that had the cinnamon sugar topping and the chocolate!

I hope he likes them!

Question: Will you be baking allergen friendly ‘treats’ this Easter? Do share!

Allergen Free Baked Ham

Wednesday night is the perfect night for a Baked Mini Dinner Ham.

Halenda's Mini Dinner Ham cooked and slicedA simple, easy to put together meal for a busy week. I love that there is always leftovers for dinner the next night for the boys (Andy I will have a fish dish), sandwiches for lunch and enough for an extra topping for Pizza Night Friday.

Not only that, the kids love it!

I like to purchase my Mini Dinner Ham from Halenda’s. Halenda’s has upon request, an ingredient list for all their meat products. Their ham does not contain nor does it come in contact with any of the boys’ food allergens…that works for me!

Baked Mini Dinner Ham

Bake the ham at 350F in a covered casserole dish with a little water in the bottom for 1 hour.

Halenda's Mini Dinner Ham in a casserole dish with a little water

Let rest on a cutting board covered in foil until ready to carve.

For this meal, I roasted some cauliflower while the ham was resting. I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil over the washed and dried cut up cauliflower and cracked sea salt and freshly ground pepper over top. Toss to coat. Bake at 450 for 10-15 depending on the size of your pieces. I just keep checking on them and toss once or twice.

Roasted cauliflower on a silicone lined cookie sheet

Our Mini Dinner Ham was served the night after our Pierogi Feast. Left over Dough Balls and Pierogi’s complimented the ham and roasted cauliflower.

A plate with a slice of Halenda's Mini Dinner Ham, roasted cauliflower and pierogi's

Enjoy!

P.S. The next night, Andy and I enjoyed a very simple Filet of Salmon dusted with Smoked Paprika and poached in a vegetable saute (garlic, leeks, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes). I served it with rice, quinoa and peas. Andy likes to add a touch of Frank’s Hot Sauce. It seems to go with everything!

Poached salmon in a vegetable saute with rice, quiona and peas

P.P.S. Poaching in Ratatouille is also a favourite. Quick and easy when there is a batch frozen in the freezer.

P.P.S. I try to incorporate at least 3 fish dishes a week for Andy and I. Michael is allergic to fish and Matthew used to eat it, but is not as keen these days. We are still trying!

Having leftovers for the kids to eat for the nights I bake fish eases the work load and lowers the risk of cross contamination.  

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Squares

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Date Squares are one of my favourite treats to indulge in.

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares on cake plate

They’re somewhat healthy…right?

My mom’s Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Date Square recipe that I adapted is also my good friend Anne’s favourite. While out in Vancouver on my Girls’ Getaway Trip, I quickly whipped up a batch for our dessert while Anne and Michelle worked on appetizers and dinner.

As the prep and baking was done in haste…I made another batch once at home for pictures…and more indulging!

indulging in a dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut date square

Even Matthew, my chocoholic child, loves them!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Date Squares always accompany us to the cottage. I bake them ahead of time and freeze them. Perfect for transporting as they act as an extra freezer pack for the cooler.

In fact, I do the same with my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Pies (freeze them and bake from frozen) and Brownies (freeze ahead, thaw and serve). Bringing already made frozen baked goods along eases my workload when I am on holiday.

I also like to save a few Date Squares for the freezer: easy access to quick treats and impromptu indulgences!

One of the reasons I love my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Date Squares recipe, more than any other, is the use of whole wheat flour with the whole oats. The whole wheat flour increases the nutritional value and richness in flavour. No one ever guesses!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Date Squares

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares on a cake plate

1 pkg (350-375g/2 cups) chopped dates
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 lemon (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole oats (not instant or quick)
11/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Demerara Sugar (brown sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup canola oil

In a small pot, simmer the dates with the water until softened. About 3-5 minutes.
Take off the heat and stir in lemon juice and sugar. Let cool.

date filling  for dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares cooling

In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Mix in canola oil to the dry ingredients until combined and crumbly. (I tend to use my hands for this)

whole oats, whole wheat flour, demerera sugar and canola oil mixture for dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares

Press 2/3′s of the oatmeal mixture in a 8 by 8 glass square dish.

oatmeal mixture for dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares pressed into baking panSpread date mixture evenly over the packed oatmeal.

cooled date filling spread over oatmeal mixture for dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squaresPat on the remaining oatmeal mixture.

remaining oatmeal mixture patted on the date filling for dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squaresBake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
Let cool on cooling rack.

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date squares cooling on rackEnjoy!

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free date square on a plate

P.S. I put together a special package of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Date Squares for Anne to take home and share with her family. I think she shared them!

What is your favourite treat to indulge in?

Dairy,Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Bundt Cake

Words cannot describe how unbelievably delicious this Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Bundt Cake tastes!

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free apple bundt cake

When I spied the recipe in my Fall 2011 Allergic Living MagazineI knew I had to bake it!

I headed over to Macmillan’s Orchards to get their opinion on the perfect apples to use. The verdict: Spy apples. apparently they are good to bake in pies and cakes because they do not release a lot of water, therefore, they do not make your baked dish soggy. Perfect…I’ll take 4…thank you.

I made a few adaptions, as usual, to meet our specific tastes and allergen needs…and voila…the most delicious Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Bundt Cake was born!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Bundt Cake

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free apple bundt cake

4 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (preferably Spy)
1/2 cup Earth Balance  (for a soy free recipe use their soy free brand)
1 cup Demerara sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tbsp water
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla

In a medium saucepan, melt the Earth Balance, add the Demerara sugar and heat until boiling while stirring.

earth balance and brown sugar boiling for caramel

Pour half the caramel in a greased bundt pan dusted with flour.
Mix half of the sliced apples with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Place them over the caramel, overlapping.

sliced cinnamon apples over caramel in bundt pan

Chop remaining sliced apples and mix with remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and stir into remaining caramel. Set aside.

chopped cinnamon apples in caramel sauce

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a liquid measure, mix together the rice milk and vinegar and let sit 5 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, applesauce, water, and vanilla. Add the milk and vinegar mixture.

wet ingredients,dry ingredients and bundt pan with caramel and apple layer

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
Cover the apples in the bundt pan with 2/3 of the batter.

caramel and apple layer covered in batter

Top with the apple/caramel mixture.

chopped caramel apples on top of batter layer

Cover with the remaining batter.

remaining batter added to cover caramel apples

Bake 350 F for 1 hour.

Let cool for 20 minutes in bundt pan before inverting on a platter.

dairy,egg,peanut/tree nut free apple bundt cake cooling in bundt pan

 Slice and Enjoy!

slice of dairy,egg, peanut/tree nut free apple bundt cake

Simply divine while still warm…even better the next day!

Michael declared that this cake is really close to his favourite: Apple Kuchen.

Even Matthew was smitten with this version of an Apple Cake!

Do your kids ‘hound you’ to bake their favourite dessert recipes? (Michael is already questioning when I will bake Apple Kuchen!) What are their favourites? Please leave a comment I would love to hear your stories. 

P.S. I have subscribed to Allergic Living Magazine since the beginning. I look forward to my copy every season. From their coverage of new products, question and answers with the allergiest to their articles and recipes…I thoroughly enjoy each and every one!

P.P.S. As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Dairy, Sesame, Peanut/Tree Nut Free Granola Bars

Granola Bars are considered a ‘healthy’ go-to snack for kids at school and on the run. dairy, sesame, peanut/tree nut free granola bars on a plateFinding a tasty, yet somewhat, health conscious Dairy, Sesame, Peanut/Tree Nut Granola Bar for my boys to enjoy, led to a dead-end.

As a result, I took it upon myself to try to create our own Ultimate Dairy, Sesame, Peanut/Tree Nut Free Granola Bar! 

My boys only request was that they be chewy and have chocolate chips.

My search led me to Joyful Abode. I liked the basis of her Homemade Granola Bar Recipe. I just tweaked her recipe to meet our specific allergen and taste needs.

A discovery on my own Granola Bar Quest: both my husband and Michael are not Granola Bar fans. 

I needed to enlist my trusty Neighbourhood ‘Guinea Pigs’. They were able to give me many helpful pointers on the various versions of the Granola Bar.

I also tried out a version at Matthew’s Cross-Country Meet. Moms and students were happy to sample my latest creation.

One of the students that tried a Granola Bar at the meet happened to be at my neighbours’ house. When my neighbour brought out my Granola Bars for a snack, the child exclaimed, “Oh, I had one of those at the Cross-Country Meet. They are really good!”

My taste testers all rated my Dairy, Sesame and Peanut/Tree Nut Granola Bars a two thumbs up!

The final Granola Bars are chewy, chocolatey, and crispy, with just the right amount of sweetness and a touch of cinnamon.

Dairy, Sesame and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Granola Bars

rice krispies, oats, vanilla, honey, cinnamon, flax meal and chocolate chips for dairy, sesame,peanut/tree nut free granola bars

2 1/2 cups of whole oats (not instant or quick)
2 1/2 cups of Rice Krispies
1/2 cup flax meal (ground flax seeds)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)
1/2 cup local honey (MacMillan’s)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Toast oats on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 – 15 min. Stirring half way.

toasted whole oats on baking sheet with parchment paper for dairy, sesame, peanut/tree nut free granola barsIn a large bowl, combine Rice Krispies, flax meal, cinnamon and toasted oats.

rice krispies, toasted oats, flax meal and cinnamon in a bowl for dairy, sesame,peanut/tree nut free granola barsIn a small saucepan. combine honey, oil, sugar and vanilla.
Heat on medium stirring until it comes to the boil and is nice and frothy.

honey, canola oil, vanilla and sugar brought to a boil and frothy for dairy, sesame, peanut/tree nut free granola barsPour honey mixture over dry ingredients and combine. Stir in chocolate chips.

wet and dry ingredients for dairy,sesame,peanut/tree nut free granola bars mixed together in a bowlSpread mixture in a wax paper lined 9 by 13 baking pan sprayed with canola oil.
(Double the length of the wax paper to line the pan. Have equal parts of wax paper on either side of pan for overlaying on the granola bars.)

pouring mixed ingredients for dairy, sesame, peanut/tree nut free granola bars into a parchment lined baking pan sprayed with canola oilGreat tip from Joyful Abode: Pull the extra wax paper from both sides of the pan to cover the bars and press firmly into the pan.

dairy, sesame, peanut/tree nut free granola bars covered in wax paper and pressed into baking panRefrigerate until firm.
Remove from pan, uncover wax paper and cut into bars.

dairy, sesame,peanut/tree nut free granola bars being cut into barsEnjoy!

Tip 1: For a change, substitute half the Pure Honey for Buckwheat Honey (MacMillan’s). I liked the hint of molasses it gave to the Granola Bars.

Tip 2: When I made a batch without the brown sugar, they seemed to fall apart more. Still tasted great.

Tip 3: Joyful Abode mentions that cooking the honey mixture for longer gives a crisper Granola Bar. Perhaps that is all that is needed when taking out the sugar.

Tip 4: One could substitute dried fruit like raisins or dried cranberries for the chocolate chips. Try 1/2 dried fruit and 1/2 chocolate chips. Yummy!

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS each time you purchase products.

Have you adapted similar recipes for your own food allergy needs? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!

P.S.  As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Dairy, Egg, Soy, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Decadent Brownies

A few weeks after our story was featured in the Toronto Star (Food Editor, Jennifer Bain’s series on ‘What’s For Dinner?’) and I started my blog, Andy sent me a text.

His co-workers wanted to know:  “When I was going to send in my Brownies?”

dairy,egg and soy free chocolate brownies on a plate

Apparently, my Brownies were a huge hit with everyone at his office, the last time I sent them in. Little did they know, ingredients were missing that one would think were needed for Decadent Brownies!

Every week, Andy reminded me.

I am excited to say,  I have finally fulfilled their request.

In honour of Andy’s 45th birthday (again) I have baked and iced my:Dairy, Egg and Soy Free Brownies!

The story behind the Brownies is similar to most of the dishes I make: my kids see something on tv or want something that their friends are eating. Cinnamon Buns, Fudge, Onion Dip, Butter Tarts…..

The next thing I hear is….“Mom, do you think you could figure out how to make that?”

The boys really wanted to try Brownies. Am I a terrible mom for not letting Matthew (peanut/tree nut allergy) try one earlier? Somehow, I just don’t think it fair to let one child try something the other cannot. Especially treats. (They both agree by the way.) Michael’s unable to try regular Brownies due to his allergies to dairy, egg and  peanut/tree nut.

The neighbourhood ‘guinea pigs’ loved my experimenting. My trial batches were either too goopy (basically like uncooked brownie dough) or too dry. Just when it seemed I had perfected the recipe… I found the perfect recipe to adapt.

Lucy Waverman develops allergy friendly dishes at the Epi Pen website. There she has a Chocolate Banana Brownie recipe. My boys did not like the sound of banana being in their Brownies. I assured them I would not use a banana. Instead, I used cinnamon applesauce. (I made sure not to tell them about the prune puree) I also topped the Brownies with a thin layer of chocolate icing.

Yummy!

Dairy, Egg and Soy Free Brownies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup prune puree (baby food version)
1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)

Combine all the dry ingredients, including chocolate chips, in a large bowl.

dry ingredients in a bowl for dairy, egg and soy free chocolate brownies

Combine all wet ingredients in a large liquid measure. Make sure to stir well to combine all ingredients.

wet ingredients in a liquid measure for dairy, egg and soy free chocolate brownies

Add wet to dry ingredients and combine.

wet and dry ingredients for dairy,egg and soy free chocolate brownies in a bowl

Spread batter in a parchment lined 9 1/2 by 13 inch pan. (Mine is the President’s Choice Brownie Pan)

dairy, egg and soy free chocolate brownie batter in pan lined with parchment paper

Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Do not overcook!
Let cool on a cooling rack until completely cool for icing.

dairy, egg and soy free chocolate brownies cooling on cooling rack

Dairy and Soy Free Chocolate Icing

1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
5 tsp water

Mix the icing sugar and cocoa together.
In a separate little dish, mix the vanilla and water.
Gradually mix in the wet with the dry until all combined.

dairy and soy free chocolate icing in a bowlEvenly spread icing over the brownies and let the icing set before cutting into squares.dairy, egg and soy free chocolate brownies being cut up into squares

Enjoy!

P.S. It was torture for the boys to see the Brownies walk out the door!

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS each time you purchase products.

Have you adapted similar recipes for your own food allergy needs? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!

P.S. As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Bruschetta

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

Beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers were calling my name….the green ones were not…….willing me to buy them to be roasted……not pickled.

Roasted peppers are delicious on their own, as a topping for pizza, tossed in a green salad, Summer Garden Corn Salad, pasta, sandwiches and as another topping for bruschetta.

dairy, egg, soy, peanut/tree nut free roasted red pepper bruschetta

Presented in a small mason jar, they are perfect as a hostess gift, a little something for the neighbour and a jar for myself.

red and yellow roasted peppers in mason jars as a gift

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis.

Roasted Pepper Bruschetta

2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Broil peppers on a baking sheet lined with a silicone sheet or foil.
Turn every 5 minutes until their skins brown and blister, about 20 minutes in total.

red and yellow peppers roastedPlace peppers in a sealable plastic bag to cool.
Peel and seed peppers.
Slice peppers into 1/2 inch strips.

sliced red and yellow roasted peppers with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh basil ingredientsCombine all ingredients.

red and yellow roasted peppers with extra-virgin olive oil dressingStore roasted peppers in mason jars and refrigerate until ready to use.

Bruschetta

Slice french stick into 1/2 inch slices.
Brush extra-virgin olive oil on both sides and grill on barbecue or under the broiler turning to toast both sides.
Top with roasted red and yellow pepper medley.
Enjoy!
Michael’s tip: Slices can be toasted in the toaster and then brushed with extra-virgin olive oil for a child friendly version.
P.S. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. (I doubled this recipe for the blog)

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS each time you purchase products.

Have you adapted similar recipes for your own food allergy needs? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!

PS: As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Pie

One of my favourite things about Fall is the start of apple season.

Whether freshly picked, cooked for applesauce, baked in pies, cakes, muffins and even pressed for cider…apples are the bomb!

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. I have plenty of Cortland apples picked from Watson’s Farm to bake and freeze some apple pies.

dairy and egg free apple pie with canola oil crustMichael was ever so happy. Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Apple Pie is one of his most requested favourite desserts. I made 3 pies: froze 2 and baked one to sample.

The key to a great pie: Cortland apples and a great flaky pastry.

For years, a great allergy friendly pastry recipe eluded me. Due to Michael’s dairy, egg and both the boys’ peanut/tree nut allergies…using butter, an egg or even purchasing the pastry was out of the question. I was not keen on the pastry being made with shortening.(at the time it was the best I could do with what was out there)

In 2008, my friend/neighbour, passed along her mother’s pastry recipe using canola oil. This is truly a winning recipe…my Mother-in-law approved. 

The recipe for the apple filling is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

Dairy, Egg, and Soy Free Apple Pie

Apple Filling

7-8 cups apples (I like Cortland, Spy is another good pie apple)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Peel and thinly slice apples into a large bowl.
Add sugar, flour and cinnamon and stir to cover.

sliced cortland apples with cinnamon, sugar and flour for apple pie with canola crust

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Pastry

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water

In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt.
In a liquid measure, mix together the oil and water.
Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in hole.
Stir until just combined with a wooden spoon. (Do not overmix)

canola oil pastry dough just mixedForm two balls with dough.

2 balls of canola oil pastry doughSpread wax paper on a surface. Sprinkle generously with flour.
Place ball of dough on wax paper and cover with another piece of wax paper.
Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough to fit glass pie plate.

canola oil pastry dough rolled out for bottom of dairy, egg and soy free apple pie

Carefully peel the top layer of wax paper off allowing the dough to stay on the top sheet.
Use fingers to help ease up rolled dough from bottom sheet of wax paper. (this can be a bit finicky)

peeling back canola oil pastry dough with wax paperCarefully transfer the dough to the glass pie plate.

canola oil pastry dough in pie plate for bottom pie crustRemember: Pastry dough is very easy to piece back together.  Patch work the bottom layer of pastry dough to cover the pie plate if needed. Neatness is not required as it will still taste delicious.

Fill pastry lined pie plate with apple filling.

cortland apples with cinnamon, sugar and flour in bottom canola oil pastry doughSprinkle more flour over the bottom piece of wax paper and repeat rolling out the second ball of dough.
Peel back top piece of wax paper, using fingers to help ease pastry dough along.
Carefully transfer pastry dough to top the apple filling.
Patchwork the pastry dough to cover the apple filling and pinch edges closed.
Make a few slits in top of the dough.

apple pie with canola oil pastry ready for the ovenBake at 375F for 50-60 minutes.
If edges start to brown too quickly, cover with bits of foil.
Let pie cool on cooling rack.

baked cortland apple pie with canola oil crust cooling on rackEnjoy!

Michael’s Tip:  “I love my slice of apple pie with a scoop of Natura’s Vanilla Frozen Dessert!

slice of dairy and egg free cortland apple with canola oil crust pie with Natura vanilla frozen dessert

Tip: Freeze uncooked pies in an extra-large freezer bag. Bake from frozen the same as above.

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS each time you purchase products.

Have you adapted similar recipes for your own food allergy needs? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!

 

Apple Picking at Watson’s Farm 2011

Saturday morning, Matthew received a phone call from his best friend. “Do you want to go apple picking?”  My ears perked up at the news……apple picking? “Can I tag along?”

apple tree at  Wilson's Apple Farm

Saturday was the perfect day to set out to Watson’s Farm in Bowmanville. I love that we are just a hop, skip and a jump away from picking our own apples. Cortland apples are in season. Ripe for the picking. Ready for pies, cakes, muffins and sauce. Yummy!

Watson’s Farm was filled with fall’s harvest. Fresh beans, corn, pumpkins, squash, honey, even raspberries and fall strawberries. Definitely picking up some sweet yellow corn for Saturday Night Rib Night on the way out!

handful of raspberries just picked at Watson's Apple Farm

handful of raspberries just picked at Watson's Apple Farm

Matthew, our friends and I each took a bag and hopped on the tractor that led us out to the apple orchard. We all headed for the Cortland’s orchard and set to work.

Cortland apple sign at Wilson's Apple Farm

Matthew carefully twisted the apples from their branches. Easy picking.

Matthew picking an apple at Watson's Apple Farm

Matthew and I combined our apples to make one overflowing bag.

bag of freshly picked cortland apples at Watson's Apple Farm

Matthew’s friend sampled a Cortland………. crunch………………..delicious!

tasting a cortland apple at Watson's Apple Farm

After dropping off our loot in the trunk of the car, we headed off to the animal petting area. A calf, goats, pigs and a sheep were all carolled in and eager to come and say hello to us.

a goat at Watson's Apple Farm

Getting a little taste of the country life so close to home is a real treat. A fun fall adventure for the whole family, young or old, to partake in. An adventure that will continue once at home……………what am I going to do with all these apples?

cortland apples picked at Watson's Farm in an apple basket

Homemade Applesauce

a basket with cortland apples and homemade applesauce

Making homemade applesauce is really so simple.
Just four ingredients: apples, a bit of water, local honey and a touch of cinnamon.

cortland apples picked at Watson's Farm, cinnamon and honey for homemade applesauce

Using my apple slicer, I cored and sliced 15 apples, peeled and then sliced them in half again.

cortland apple sliced with apple corer for homemade applesaucePut sliced apples in a large pot with 1/2 cup of water.

cortland apples in pot with water for homemade applesauceOn medium heat, cook them, stirring occasionally until the apples have broken down.

cortland apples cooked down for homemade applesauceRemove pot from heat and add about 1/2 cup of local honey to taste.
Let cool or enjoy warm with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Enjoy!

Tip: Buckwheat/Amber Honey makes a nice addition. I like to add a little bit to my dish of homemade applesauce. I love how the hint of molasses/caramel compliments the tartness of the apples. Yummy!

drizzling amber honey on homemade applesauce

An Aside:  As a child, Michael loved to pick apples. Unfortunately, the next day his hands would break out in the worst eczema. It was better to go on a cooler day when he could where little gloves to protect his hands.

P.S. Sunday afternoon was spent making and freezing an apple pie for Thanksgiving and one for dessert. One must enjoy the ‘fruits’ of one’s labour! 

P.P.S. Check out my blog in the week before Canadian Thanksgiving (October 10, 2011).  I will be posting my Dairy, Egg and Soy Free Apple Pie recipe.  You don’t want to miss it!

P.P.P.S. As always, any products I mention in these posts are my own personal recommendations. No one’s paying me to recommend them. They’re just what has worked for our family. Your own needs and preferences may be different!

Always CHECK INGREDIENTS each time you purchase products.

Fall’s Best of the Season Ratatouille

Local Farmer’s Markets, farm stands and grocery stores are all filled with fall’s best produce. Bushels of tomatoes and peppers are just waiting to be cooked up and canned. It’s that time of year when families get together to pitch in with the laborious process that will yield them the season’s best throughout the winter.

eggplant, zuchinni, tomato, onion, garlic and peppers for ratatouille

My favourite fall dish, using the best of the fall season produce…Ratatouille.  Perhaps not my children’s favourite, but I haven’t given up hope yet!

Ratatouille combines all the colours of fall into one healthy side or dinner dish. Delicious to poach fish, chicken, pork or even an egg! Tasty hot or cold.

I like to make a double batch to freeze in different sized mason jars for an easy go to vegetable throughout the winter months.

ratatouille in mason jars ready for the freezer

Ratatouille was the perfect extra side dish to our Thanksgiving Dinner that I hosted last year.  My husband’s family were pleasantly surprised at the addition.

I have great memories of my mother making this every fall.  This recipe comes from Woman and  Home Magazine from October 1980. (a British Magazine)

Ratatouille

ratatouille in a bowl

1 large onion, sliced
6 tbsp canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large or 6 small zucchini, sliced
2 eggplants, diced
1 red and yellow pepper, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cans (796 ml) whole tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium and cook the onion gently until tender. 
Add minced garlic, eggplant, zucchini and peppers. (let the vegetables saute a bit between additions)
Season with salt, pepper, sugar and dried italian seasoning.
Simmer for half and hour, stirring occasionally.
Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to simmer for an hour to soften vegetables and blend their flavours.

onion, garlic, eggplant, zuchinni, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste blending flavoursEnjoy!

Tip: Even though this may not be a dish that my boys favour, I still like to offer it to them.  I believe eating ones veggies is an important component to staying healthy. 

‘Practice what you preach’…if I want them to include more vegetables in their diet, then I need to be providing them with a variety to choose from. They need to see Andy and I enjoying the fresh produce that each season provides. This is how we live…………so this is what I blog.

Always CHECK THE INGREDIENTS before you purchase products.