Our Second Trip To Lone Star With Multiple Food Allergies…Another Success

Tip # 25 from Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel at Why Risk It? . Click here for the entire list.

“I know calling restaurants and manufacturers about menus and ingredients is the right thing to do, however it’s really intimidating!  We need your help to show us how to make these calls.”

I wanted to celebrate the boys achievement of their Honours average this year by taking them out to a fancier restaurant in town that I had heard caters to those with food allergies…unfortunately, the boys were not interested.

What they did want to do was to go back to the Lone Star Texas Grill Restaurant. Click here for my post on our first trip there this year.

As I had set the stage by calling and enquiring about Michael’s food allergies (dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberries)...I felt this would be a great opportunity for Michael to review with the manager his food allergies to make sure the restaurant could still accommodate his food allergy needs.

The day we decided to go, Michael called ahead. Unfortunately, the manager was in a meeting so the assistant manager took the call. She basically told Michael that the restaurant would not be able to accommodate his food allergies. Michael related to her his last visit…she put him on hold. Upon her return, she assured him that the restaurant would be able to meet all his food allergy needs…so all was a go.

Our family was seated, menus distributed, drinks were ordered…I questioned Michael when he was going to ask to speak to the manager. “When she comes back and we order our meal”, he answered.

The manager was finally called over…as soon as Michael started to talk about his food allergies, the manager looked at me with recollection in his eyes…”Yes, you talked with me the last time we came…Michael is doing all the talking this time.”

The manager on this evening, happened to be the first manager I had talked with over the phone for our initial visit. (he was not the manager working the night we actually ate at Lone Star) Michael reviewed with him his meal from the last time…the complimentary nachos and salsa, chicken fingers dusted in flour, salt and pepper and fried with French fries without any spices on them in a fryer that was free of all his allergens.

The manager came out to enquire if flour was okay…he even checked the plum sauce for mustard and brought out a dish of it for Michael when it was given the all clear.

I know I felt much better knowing that the manager was the original manager who had organized Michael’s meal…even Matthew stated, “I feel so safe here”.

Once again, our family was well taken care of at our local Lone Star Texas Grill Restaurant. I would like to think all the franchises are similar.

Has anyone else dined at the Lone Star Texas Grill with their food allergies? What was your experience?

What restaurants have you found to be accommodating to your food allergies? Please share.

A Belated Father’s Day Family Barbecue: The Boys Help Make Dairy and Egg Free Pierogis

Andy was away on his annual fishing trip with ‘the boys’ Father’s Day weekend so our Father’s Day celebration was detained a week.

Andy’s sister hosted a Father’s Day Family Barbecue this past Sunday, inviting their parents, her three children, their ‘friends’ and our family…for a total of 12.

My sister-in-law called me this past week to confirm the menu:

-Pork Ribs baked in the oven then barbecued…I brought a mustard free barbecue sauce for Michael’s ribs.
-Pierogis…I brought Dairy and Egg Free Pierogis for Michael as her Pierogis contain dairy and eggs…click here for the post.
-plain carrots
-Andy’s mom baked a Blueberry and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie…as her pastry contains egg…Michael chose Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Dairy Free Vanilla Icing.
-I also brought Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick for all to enjoy.

Packaged allergy friendly food to take to our Father's Day Family Dinner hosted by my sister-in-law

Here are all the goodies that I brought:

-a cutting board and knife in a shield for the bread
-a pot to boil the pierogis in and a bowl to contain them
-a large spoon to scoop out the pierogis
-the frozen pierogis travelled in the cooler with freezer packs
-missing is my Bodum Bistro Sauce Pot for transporting Michael’s mustard free barbecue sauce. I like it because the lid holds a silicone brush which goes right back into the container so there is less risk of cross-contamination by putting it down somewhere.

The boys have been at me to make their favourite Dairy and Egg Free Pierogis for some time now…I thought this would be the perfect time for them to learn how to make them.

A bowl of Dairy and Egg Free Pierogi made by Michael and his friends

Pierogis are not difficult to make…but they are time-consuming. I like to split the steps into two days:

Day 1:

Michael peeled and boiled the potatoes.
Refrigerated potato water for pierogi dough the next day.
Michael mashed the potatoes and added the Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds, Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and pepper to create the filling.
Covered and refrigerated potato filling for the next day.

Day 2:

I heated the reserved potato water while the boys measured the ingredients for the pierogi dough.
After the dough had time to rest for 30 minutes…the boys started to roll out pieces of dough to fill with the potato filling.
Pierogis were frozen on cookie sheets and transferred into freezer bags…setting aside enough to be boiled up for dinner.

Tale of Events

Michael ended up taking control of the pierogi making after his father showed him how he remembered watching his father make pierogis…rolling out the dough and cutting out circles.

Matthew and Michael rolling, cutting and filling Dairy and Egg Free PierogisMatthew didn’t like getting his hands all floury so Michael convinced him to be in charge of rolling out the dough and cutting the circles while Michael filled and sealed the pierogis.

I left them to sort it all out. From the other room, I could hear Michael’s encouraging words…”You’ve got the fun part…cutting out the circles.” Adding in,  “Whatever you do…do not start in the middle…start out here at the edge.” 

Dairy and Egg Free Pierogid made by Michael and Matthew

With admiration in his voice, I heard Michael state to Matthew…“We’re making pierogis!”

Learning how to cook/bake in general, let alone with food allergies is a life skill…basic cooking skills seem to be getting lost in this ‘fast food’ world.

I aim to take a stab at sharing the basic cooking skills my mother taught me with my boys…expanding upon them with the basic allergy cooking skills that I have learned along the way. 

My starting point…teaching my boys how to make some of their favourite allergy friendly dishes.

Wish me luck!

P.S. You’ll never believe what happened as I sat writing this post…I looked out the window to see two of my boys’ neighbourhood friends walking to our front door. I called out to Michael, “William and Victoria are here.” Michael’s response, “I know. They are here to help make the pierogis.”

William, Victoria and Michael making Dairy and Egg Free PIerogis

How awesome is that!

P.S.  Michael shared some of his Dairy and Egg Free Pierogis at the family dinner…all were impressed. Even Grandpa…’King of the Pierogis’…was curious to know what was in the potato filling and how we could make the dough without any egg!

I am curious to know:

Are allergic youth learning to cook for themselves at home or are they relying on parents or ‘processed allergy friendly food’?
Are allergic youth interested in learning basic allergy cooking skills? Would they sign up for a course if it were offered?

The Food Allergy Chronicles Visits Lone Star Texas Grill

Dairy-Egg-Nut has inspired our family to ‘step outside the box’ this March Break. After much deliberation over restaurant ‘Allergy Guides’…one restaurant was chosen…The Lone Star Texas Grill.

Our family's trip to Lone Star Texas Grill

Quite surprisingly, Lone Star Texa Grill does not officially have a breakdown of food allergens for their menu listed in their ‘Allergen Guide’. However, what they do have is a very inviting message to those with food allergies who would like to eat at the Lone Star Texas Grill.

The Lone Star Texas Grill ‘s ‘Allergy Guide’ states, “At Lone Star, Guest food safety is number one. If you have any special food allergies, sensitivities or dietary needs, please speak to your server before you order. All our servers are well versed in the ingredients of our menu items.”

“While we cannot guarantee the absence of any allergen, due to the potential for cross-contaminationand potential traces of allergens in sauces, marinades, cooking processes and menu adaptations we will do our best to accomodate your requests.”

Click here to view Lone Star Texas Grill’s Allergy Guide.

Right away, after reading the above ‘Allergy Guide’, I felt inclined to call the restaurant to speak with the manager about Michael’s food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry…and Matthew’s food allergies…peanut/tree nuts.

The manager was very helpful and understanding of my boys’ combined food allergies…he assured us that the Lone Star Texas Grill would be able to meet our food allergy requirements. Adding, that many of their food allergy customers are repeat customers…very reassuring indeed!

Questions for Michael’s meal:

Is there a separate fryer for the french fries? Apparantly, there is a separate fryer that just fries the corn chips that are served complimentary. Michael’s fries would be fried in that oil. (corn chips were free of his allergens)

Is there mustard in their Original Texas Barbecue Sauce?   Yes…ribs are not allergen free.

Is there mustard in the seasoning of their chicken fingers? No, they would toss real chicken in a flour, salt and pepper mixture and would fry them in the same oil as his french fries.

Perfect…just what Micheal was hoping for…Chicken Fingers with fries…done.

Questions for Matthew’s meal:

Are the buns free of peanut/tree nuts?  Yes.

Perfect…Matthew would order “Bubba’s” Smoked Brisket.

Overall questions:

The manager reassured me that the manager would oversee the cooking of the boys’s meals, the hostess and waitress would be made aware of the boys’ food allergies, all cutting boards and utensils used in the making of the meals would be separate from the other food…I was sold!

Overall evening:

From the moment we stepped in to the Lone Star Texas Grill, our family was made to feel very welcome indeed.

Our hostess greeted us at the entrance…after a quick introduction, she smiled and reassured us the restaurant was ready for us and seated us near the back of the restaurant, by the kitchen.

The manager then greeted us at the table…he was very patient as I re-relayed the conversation I had had with the manager on duty at the time I had called. I had forgotten to ask about the salsa that is served with the corn chips and the plum sauce for the chicken fingers while on the phone with the other manager…the salsa and plum sauce were free of his food allergens.

The manager then re-reassured me that the kitchen was well experienced in cooking for anyone with food allergies. Relaying that our waitress was also aware of our food allergies.

Next, our smiling waitress arrived…she was equally patient as I re-relayed the specifics of our food allergy requirements. Drinks and our meal were ordered.

The first to arrive were the still warm from the fryer, corn chips and salsa.

Complimentary corn chips and salsa at Lone Star Texas Grill

Michael tried one, smiled and happily dug in to the pile…soon a second order arrived…where were the drinks?

Finely, the drinks arrived to quench the thirst of the ‘corn chip munchers’…soon to be followed by our dinner.

Michael’s Chicken Fingers and Fries with a side order of carrot and celery sticks…which, I might add, he did actually eat!

http://www.michaelpenneystyle.com/2013/03/15/join-us-for-a-floral-class-at-penney-company/

Michael inhaled his meal…happy to report it was delish…although he could have done with a few more of the french fries. (Note: Michael’s fries just had salt on them, whereas, Matthew noted that his fries had a sort of spice on them)

Over the course of the meal…Michael ‘absorbed’ his fair share of Iced Tea!

Michael's trail of Iced Tea drinks at the Lone Star Texas Grill

I imagine the sodium content of his entire meal was the culprit!

Overall…I would rate this meal a huge success!

At the end of the meal…the manager recommended that Michael try the Chicken Fajitas on his next visit. The tortillas, which they bake in house, were safe…the chicken would not be brushed with a garlic butter and would be grilled on a separate grill…the Saddle Beans and Mexican Rice would be safe as would the Salsa.

If Matthew had had room for dessert…he would have been able to have had the ice cream…

For anyone that does not live with multiple food allergies…the notion of going our for dinner may not seem like such a ‘big deal’. But for our family…it will be a moment we will remember for always because it was a ‘big deal’!

The fear is real…the consequences of eating something that one is allergic to is real…the need to be specific and careful about ingredient lists and how food is prepared, cooked and served is real.

Not everyone ‘gets it’…all I know is I’m sure glad the managers, hostess, waitress and cooks at Lone Star Texas Grill did!

Know, that on our next visit to Lone Star Texas Grill…I would still be calling ahead to go through the same food allergen questions to assure myself that the restaurant is prepared for our every visit…never assume!

I would love to hear about your experiences eating out at restaurants with food allergies.

P.S. At ‘The Allergy Eats! Blog Your Allergy Friendly Restaurant Blog“, they have specifically written a post titled, ‘The Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in America’. Click here to check out their top 5 restaurant chains in the categories of large, medium and small chains.

P.P.S. I was very saddened by an article in Sunday’s edition of the Toronto Star.

Twelve year old Maia Santarelli-Gallo, died a ‘mysterious death’ this March Break while out shopping at Mapleview Centre in Burlington, Ontario. Her parents believe she died from an unknown food allergy…her body may have gone into anaphylactic shock. Maia had some food intolerances…but was never prescribed an Epipen by a doctor.

A sad reminder of how dangerous food allergies can be if not fully investigated.

My thoughts and prayers are with Maia’s family. Click here for the full story.

Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Cajun Snack Mix

My eldest son, Michael, is eating me out of house and home…I kid you not!

Trying to keep enough somewhat healthy dairy, egg, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nut, mustard and raspberry free options in the house is fast becoming my latest challenge.

It seems everything I offer lately gets the same reply, “It’s just not what I feel like Mom.”

I am sure this is the same for any household with a growing teenager in their midst.

The challenge for me comes with the fact that most of Michael’s allergy friendly ‘snacks’ need to be made from scratch or at the very least, ‘made to order’.

I put ‘snacks’ in quotations as it is not necessarily a snack he is after… his ‘snacks’ seem to be taking on the appearance of what I would consider more of a meal. Examples would be…a bowl of pasta with extra virgin olive oil and ham slices on the side. I have small containers of Spaghetti Meat Sauce frozen for Michael to dethaw and serve over pasta. Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds Grilled Sandwiches are a favourite as are Schneider’s Country Naturals Barbecued Chicken Wings and Chicken Strips…not sure why they are not listed on their website.

In my constant search for recipes to adapt, I stumbled upon a recipe for a Cajun Snack Mix in the Inspired Holiday 2012 magazine from my local Foodland. I thought this would be a fun, healthy snack to adapt…perfect to have on hand when Michael’s ‘munchies’ hit.

A bowl of Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Cajun Snack Mix

Michael loved the pretzel sticks and the roasted pumpkin and squash seeds the best. He felt it could be a little less spicy so I think next time I would reduce the hot sauce to 1 tsp or just omit it altogether.

I also found that the pumpkin and squash seeds did not roast as well mixed with the other ingredients…next time I would roast them separately. For this recipe, I painstakingly picked out every last seed and roasted them at 350 F until they were nicely toasted.

There are not many options in the ‘snack department’ with food allergies…many ‘spice mixtures’ tend to either contain or have been cross-contaminated or are made in the same facility with dairy, peanut/tree nuts, sesame and or mustard…all of which, are Michael’s food allergens he must avoid.

The beauty of making your own snack mix…one can adjust the seasonings accordingly.

Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Snack Mix

Two packages of Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Cajun Snack Mix

2 1/2 cups Cheerios
3 cups Shreddies
1 cup pretzel sticks
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup squash seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp garlic powder

In a large, shallow roasting pan mix together the Cheerios, Shreddies, and pretzel sticks. On a separate cookie sheet, spread the pumpkin and squash seeds.
In a small bowl, mix together the oil, hot sauce, Cajun and garlic powder.
Pour most of the seasoning mix over the cereal mixture and some over the seeds…I used my hands to really combine everything well.
Bake the cereal mixture at 325 F for 15 minutes…stirring half way through.
Increase the heat to 350 F and bake the seeds stirring every 5 minutes until toasted.
Add the seeds to the cereal mixture and toss to combine.

Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Cajun Snack Mix

Enjoy!

P.S. The two packages of Peanut/Tree Nut, Mustard and Sesame Free Cajun Mix were presented to Carla’s girls @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily and a dear family friend who is watching his diet.

P.P.S. A gluten-free version could be created with Gluten Free Rice Chex, air popped popcorn, pumpkin and squash seeds…Glutino Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks would be okay if you were not allergic to sesame as they may contain traces of sesame.

Tip: Please remember to always check the ingredient lists of all products.

Tuscan Chicken With Parsley Orzo…one of my husband’s favourite meals

Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo has been one of my husband’s favourites meals since the first time I made it back in March 2001.

Andy's plate of Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo

Easy to prepare, great for entertaining and any leftovers can be frozen for a later date.

Saturday night is the one night of the week that Andy and I set aside the time to prepare something special for dinner. Even in the midst of the boys’ crazy hockey schedules…we work hard at trying to come up with a ‘tasty solution’ for dinner. (The boys still enjoy their barbecued ribs, rice and corn night)

Unfortunately, this past week, has been a difficult one for me health-wise…the bit of running I added to my power walks has backfired…it aggravated my pinched nerve.

As a result, Andy took charge of Saturday night’s dinner…of course, he chose one of his all-time favourite dishes…Tuscan Chicken with Parsley Orzo…yeah!

This recipe originates from a Canadian Living magazine…Diane Clement’s Tuscan Baked Chicken with Orzo recipe was highlighted. Click here for an adapted version of Canadian Living’s recipe printed in the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

Andy and I like to make this meal together…as he barbecues the chicken breasts, I prepare the sun-dried tomato topping and prep the orzo. Once the chicken is in the oven, the fresh vegetable (usually broccoli) is put on to steam and the orzo dish is assembled. (Andy did a great job of prepping and preparing the entire meal as I sat on the sidelines…thank you, thank you!)

I have taken the liberty of adapting the original Canadian Living version to suit our personal tastes and dairy allergy…omitting the parmesan cheese in the orzo, allows Michael to enjoy a sample.

Michael's ribs, rice and corn with a sample of Parsley Orzo

Tuscan Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 package of sun-dried tomatoes, not packaged in oil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
cracked pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish

Barbecue chicken breasts, 5-6 minutes a side..place in a 9 by 13 casserole dish.
While chicken is barbecuing…in a saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until softened.
Add white wine, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes and a few grinds of black pepper.

Sun-dried tomato topping for chickenPour over chicken breasts, arranging sun-dried tomatoes and onion mixture evenly over the chicken breasts.

Barbecued chicken breasts with sun-dried tomato topping ready for the ovenCover with foil.
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Baked chicken with sun-dried tomato toppingGarnish with slivers of sliced fresh basil.

Parsley Orzo

Parsley Orzo in a saucepan

1 cup orzo (I use Seme di melone by De Cecco)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
half a bunch of parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo according to package instructions.
In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium heat.
Add drained orzo, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuscan Chicken and Parsley Orzo ready to be served

Enjoy!

Tuscan Chicken, Parsley Orzo and steamed brocolli

Delish!

Tip 1: By not adding the parmesan cheese to the Parsley Orzo, as in the original recipe…Michael is able to enjoy this meal with us.

Tip 2: This dish can easily be made ahead of time…just pop it in the oven for easy entertaining!

P.S. Andy loves to grind fresh parmesan over his Parsley Orzo, as seen in the first picture at top.

Do you have a favourite meal you enjoy as a couple?

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I love Fall’s abundance of the many varieties of squash and apples, the crisp fresh weather, the layering of comfy clothing, snuggling up in blankets, the roar of a gas fireplace (on my wish list as we don’t build real fires in the house due to our asthma), and hearty, ‘stick to your ribs’ soups.

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, chickpeas and roasted squash seeds

I have heard it said, “What grows together generally pairs well together”…therefore, I thought I would pair squash and apples in a soup for a heart warming fall supper.

I referred to a recipe I had tried last year from the Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Parties! Cookbook. Click here for the original recipe.

I adapted her recipe by roasting the squash and apples tossed in olive oil, pure maple syrup and a crackling of sea salt. I think roasting brings out the best flavours in veggies. I omitted the butter, used a couple of Spartan apples, added in some extra spices and made sure to use pure apple cider. 

The final result…just what I was craving…it was amazing!

Even my husband, who was not so keen on the soup last year, enjoyed a bowl. Michael dipped in with some crackers and deemed it, “Not bad.” and Matthew, well, he steered clear of it…orange veggies never did appeal to him.

The soup is so versatile… simply garnish with a sprinkling of roasted butternut squash seeds…

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with roasted squash seeds

…or jazz it up with baby spinach leaves, quinoa, and chickpeas. Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and roasted squash seeds

The possibilities are endless…have fun switching up the flavour combinations!

Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

1 large butternut Squash
2 spartan apples
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
2-3 tbsp of pure maple syrup
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pure apple cider

Peel and cube butternut squash. (see tip below for roasting seeds)
Peel and slice spartan apples.
Toss butternut squash and apples with olive oil and maple syrup. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast at 450F, tossing every 10 min for 50-60 minutes or until tender and browned.

Maple roasted butternut squash and apple on baking sheetIn a large pot, saute the onion and spices in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened.
Stir in roasted squash and apples.
Add water, apple cider and salt and pepper.
Using a hand blender, puree the mixture until smooth…add more water if the consistency is too thick…adjust to your liking. (I love it thick)

Pureed Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup in potBring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Enjoying a bowl of Dairy Free Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup garnished with quinoa, spinach, chickpeas and roasted squash seeds

Tip 1: Save the seeds for roasting…rinse and dry on paper towel lined plate. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 350 minutes tossing occasionally until browned.

Tip 2: I love to freeze any leftover soup in batches for easy go-to meals in a pinch.

Chicken Adobo With Pineapple

Chicken Adobo With Pineapple created many “Mmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s” at the dinner table last week.

A plate of Chicken Adobo, rice and roasted brocolli and cauliflower

In the silence of the boys eating, Matthew could even be heard singing, “Yummy, yummy, yummy”!

Ever since my boys volunteered at the 2012 Taste Festival our church hosted a few weeks ago, I have been on a mission to put together a recipe for Chicken Adobo Wtih Pineapple.

The boys were stationed right next to the Philippines tasting tent, where wafts of the endless trays of Chicken Adobo With Pineapple teased and tempted my boys…the boys’ combined food allergies include: dairy, eggs, beef, sesame, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries. As there were notices posted throughout the event warning of possible traces of peanut/tree nuts in each of the dishes, they were unfortunately, unable to sample any of the fare.

Both Andy and their friend, William, raved about the Chicken Adobo With Pineapple…so I went over to enquire about the dish.

The lovely ladies at the Philippine tasting tent were more than eager to answer all my questions regarding the ingredients of the Chicken Adobo With Pineapple…one lady was  even ready to give me the recipe! I am now kicking myself for not taking her up on it!

I researched Chicken Adobo on the internet, found a recipe at the Canadian Living Magazine website to use as the base recipe to adapt and created a much-loved version of Chicken Adobo with Pineapple for my family. Click here for the original recipe.

In the first batch, I stirred the pineapple chunks in at the end. However, as the boys were not keen on eating the actual pineapple chunks, we all agreed that the dish needed the pineapple flavour to stand out more in the overall dish. Everyone was eager to try a second batch the next night…this time, pineapple juice was added in the marinade…perfect!

The boys just could not get enough of this dish! I somehow managed to salvage some to freeze for a quick go-to dinner.

Chicken Adobo With Pineapple

A plate of Chicken Adobo, rice and roasted brocolli and cauliflower

4 lbs skinned, bone-in chicken thighs
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 head of garlic, cloves crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay dried bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
3 tbsp honey
2 cups water
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits/chunks

In a large pot, measure all ingredients for the marinade, except for the pineapple pieces and chicken thighs.

Marinade for the Chicken Adobo Remove skin from chicken thighs and place in the marinade.
Let marinade for 2-3 hours.
On the stove top, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove chicken thighs to a bowl.
Discard the bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns.
Add pineapple pieces and simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
Return the chicken thighs and toss in sauce to coat.

Chicken Adobo simmering in a pot

Enjoy!

Andy's plate of Chicken Adobo, rice and roasted brocolli and cauliflower doused in hot sauce

Perfect served with basmati rice, roasted broccoli and cauliflower…and a douse of hot sauce for Andy!

P.S. This will be the perfect go-to dish to reheat from the freezer now that hockey season has started…especially with Michael’s hockey games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Dressed Potatoes and Shrimp Potato Salad

Saturday was ‘herb harvest day’!Parsley and Chives growing in my herb garden

I had lots of fun picking basil, parsley, chives and oregano to create some flavourful Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Pesto Sauces. Click here for my post on Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Basil Pesto Spaghetinni.

Today’s post focuses on parsley and chives.

Parsley, Chives, Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Thinking about parsley and chives together as a pesto…little new potatoes came to mind.

The combined flavours of boiled little potatoes tossed with Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto complimented each other beautifully.

Boiled little potatoes tossed with Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto

Michael loved it!

I decided to set aside some to enjoy cold the next day with the leftover roasted shrimp from the night before.

With the addition of some local ‘corn on the cob’ kernals tossed with leftover cold peas and beans with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice…

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Potato Salad with Roasted Shrimp

…I had myself a delicious Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsley and Chive Pesto Shrimp Potato Salad. It was soooo good!

Parsley and Chive Pesto

Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Parsely Chive Pesto

1 cup parsley,stems and leaves rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup chives, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Measure above ingredients (except oil) into a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil in. Stop to scrape down the sides and continue to run the food processor until a smooth consistency is obtained.

Enjoy! 

A serving of Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Potato Salad with Roasted Shrimp

Tip: Other ideas…a few tablespoons tossed with just boiled little potatoes/pasta, as a condiment for roasted fish, as a spread on toasted Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick or brushed over a fresh cob of corn.

P.S. How do you save your garden parsley and chives?

Michael Celebrates His Sweet Sixteenth…Cottage Style

Of course, one of my happiest days at the rented cottage…being able to celebrate Michael’s Sweet 16th birthday!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes and Sweet 16 Birthday Cards

It is so hard to believe that my baby is now 16 years old…old enough to learn to drive a car!

As a young mother, with a son with severe eczema, multiple food allergies and asthma,  I dreamed of this day! Dreamed of a time where he would be free of eczema, in control of his asthma…living a ‘normal’ kid’s life! (I have always explained to my boys that there is no such thing as ‘normal’, as everyone struggles with one thing or another in their lifetime. How one deals with the challenges that one is presented with, will build their character. Strive to do/be your best…builds good character. Improve upon who you are rather than fousing on the ‘supposed normal’)

I am still dreaming of the day that his multiple food allergies start to dwindle…until then I am pleased with the progress that he and I have made negotiating our way through this ‘crazy maze’ of living with multiple food allergies.

I am so proud of my son for ‘trailblazing’ his way through the school system, taking ownership of his multiple food allergies and his new-found creativity in the kitchen!

It literally brings tears to my eyes knowing that my dreams have come true for my son!

Back at the cottage…Michael was up, surprisingly early, to open his cards…dockside!

Michael opening up his birthday cards on the boat

The boys enjoyed an early lunch before they set off for a round of 18 holes at a nearby golf course. While I enjoyed a peaceful afternoon by the water.

On their way back, they stopped and picked up their friend William. His father had driven him part way and was waiting at a prearranged meeting spot. The boys were super excited to be sharing the rest of their cottage stay with their good friend! The timing was perfect!

On the menu for the birthday boy’s special birthday dinner…Bruschetta to start followed by Andy’s famous Chicken Wings, French Fries and Fresh Corn on the Cob!

Birthday dinner Chicken Wings, French Fries and Cob of Corn

I pulled out the chicken wings in the morning to dethaw. Upon Andy’s arrival back from their afternoon of golf, he started to prepare the wings while the boys husked the corn. Click here for the recipe. As William and Andy like their wings a little ‘spicier’…he made a separate batch with extra hot sauce.

Once the wings were doused in the sauce, Andy finished them off on the barbecue while the french fries baked in the oven. (I just have to add that, while Andy did all the barbecuing, one must imagine him being dive bombed by little chickadees!)

Andy's famous Chicken Wings

It was a chicken wing feast!

William and his family enjoyed a family vacation to Italy this summer. He presented Michael with a little something from the trip for his birthday…can you guess?

Michael was ‘over the moon’!

Michael's very own extra virgin olive oil straight from Italy

His very own bottle of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil…liquid gold!

A friend of ours was up at his cottage on the same lake. He and his 16-year-old son joined us for the evening bonfire and requisite singing a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ complete with Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes!

Michael blowing out the candles on his Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Cupcakes

Being at the cottage was the perfect setting for the event…it meant Michael could officially drive the boat!

Michael legally driving the boat

He was in his element!

I believe this will be one birthday he will surely always remember!

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

Peaches are in season!

Bowl full of fresh summer peaches

Sweet and juicy…enjoying them straight from the basket…summertime at it’s best!

One of my favourite peach desserts to make for a family gathering is Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Peach Crisp.

Adapting my all-time favourite recipe to be dairy, soy and peanut/tree nut free that all family members can enjoy is easy…believe me…no one will miss the butter!

In fact, a butterless crisp makes for a lighter version…one that I have received many compliments!

The recipe I like to adapt is my childhood favourite by Mme Benoit. The recipe comes from a well-worn page from a newspaper article with peach recipes by Mme Benoit.

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp

14 peaches
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
2 cups Demerara Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
8 tbsp canola oil

In a very large bowl, place the peaches and pour boiling water to cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Peel the skin off the peaches, slice into wedges and place in a flan dish.
Pour over lemon and orange juices and stir to cover.
In another large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add in the canola oil and using your fingers, combine well.

Peaches and crumble all ready to assemble Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach CrispSprinkle crumble over top of peaches…do not press down…let the crumble sit loosely on top.
Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbling.
Let cool on cooling rack.

Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp cooling

Enjoy!

Tip: This makes a very large peach crisp…I doubled the recipe…half of the recipe will fit in an 8 inch baking dish.

P.S. This lovely Dairy, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Summertime Peach Crisp was enjoyed after a delicious ‘Allergy Friendly Summertime Dinner’

Perfect Allergy Friendly Summertime Dinner of Barbecued Lemon Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower and Brocolli and Bruschetta Pasta

Barbecued Lemon Chicken, click here for the recipe, roasted cauliflower and broccoli and Bruschetta Pasta. (basically cherry tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh basil tossed with pasta…delicious cold the next day!) Click here for my Bruschetta recipe.

Tip: I Marinated the chicken breasts ahead of time and froze them. I made the bruschetta the morning of the dinner, covered it and left it on the side. Dinner was simply barbecuing the chicken, cooking some pasta and tossing with the bruschetta, (I also had some plain pasta tossed with extra virgin olive oil) then roasting the cauliflower and brocolli…perfect for a crowd of 12…free of all my boys’ food allergens…I can relax and enjoy!

In fact, as Michael was serving himself firstly he commented, “Mom, can I eat everything that is out?” “Yes Michael”, I replied. “I just love these meals”, he answered smiling at me…”Yes, so do I!” So very worth it…in fact, priceless!

P.P.S. This will be my last post for awhile…I am taking a break!  My next adventure with the family will be heading up into the woods to stay at my brother’s cottage with my Scottish relatives. I hope to write about our experience…stay tuned!

Hope you are all enjoying your summertime with friends and family!