‘Twas The Day Before An Allergy Friendly Christmas’

‘Twas the day before an allergy friendly Christmas and all through the house, my boys have been itching for todays great excitement…the imminent arrival of my brother, sister-in-law and nephews arrive! My boys are ‘over the moon’ excited!

‘The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care…in the hopes that their cousins would soon be here!’

Estimated time of arrival…before lunch! I better get busy…there is still the prepping of the Dairy, Egg, Beef and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Stuffing for our grand farm fresh turkey, baking Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake and the ‘piece de resistance’ for our Chrismas Day dessertDairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log.

The boys have had ‘visions of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Men and Sugar Cookies dancing in their heads.’

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread, Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies on a plate

Good thing all my allergen friendly christmas cookie baking is complete.

‘When out from Michael’s room I hear a faint hoarse whisper…I sprang to his room to see what was the matter.’

‘Away to the walk-in doctor’s we flew in a flash (7 more patients and they were closing)…Sat there for 3 hours, a chest infection the cause.’

‘Now Nana, now Matthew, now Andy and me…to the grocery store, empty the recycling, pick up the turkey, get the house cleaned and start a batch of  Homemade Chicken Soup.’

‘Now dash away…dash away…dash away all!’

“As I spring to the kitchen, to set the timer to whistle!…I exclaim…as I start with my next recipe…’A Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.'”

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our family to yours this holiday season!

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Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies Are A Hit!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies represented Matthew’s Scottish heritage…my father’s side of the family…for his contribution to his geography class’s Cultural.

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies dipped in Chocolate

Packaged in an old St. Michael’s Scottish Shortbread tin…they were a huge hit!

Matthew and I spent an evening ‘painting’ melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips on half of the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies. Click here for the recipe.

While we waited for the chocolate to dry…Matthew helped me bake the other half of the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookie dough into his favourite Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs!

Drying and cooling Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies

Rolling them in icing sugar while they are still warm…they cooled alongside the drying chocolate.

Tomorrow is all about Gingerbread MenDairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread dough is all made and resting in the fridge ready to be rolled, cut out and baked into various holiday treats! Click here for the recipe.

How is your allergy free holiday baking coming along?

Busy Baking For An Allergy Friendly 2012 Christmas

As much as I am enjoying adapting and baking along with The Toronto Star’s 2012 Cookie Calendar Countdownit is time I started baking and stocking up on some of my family’s most requested allergy friendly baking for Christmas.

Michael has long finished his favourite…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread Men and just the other week, Matthew put in his two cents worth of hinting, “I think it is time for Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies.”…he is right.

Today I will be busy baking up some Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookies for Matthew’s Geography class…each student is to bring in a food representing a part of their culture…a shortbread cookie represents Matthew’s Scottish heritage on my father’s side. (The teacher has requested that all food be peanut/tree nut free…however, due to cross-contamination issues, Matthew does not feel comfortable eating any of the treats his friends will be bringing in for the lunch. He will be bringing his own lunch.)

I will use half the batter to bake the Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Sugar Cookie cut outs dipped in chocolate (melted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)…while the other half will have Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips added to the batter to be baked into Matthew’s favourite cookie…Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowballs.

Next on my list of baking…the over ripened bananas. Perfect for everyone’s favourite Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake and Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bran Muffins . Both will satisfy all the hungry eaters I will have over the Christmas holidays. (Muffins can be frozen and then reheated in the microwave for a quick snack or addition to breakfast.)

I am hosting our family’s Allergy Friendly Christmas Dinner this year…although it is a lot of prep and work…I relish the thought of doing it all in my own kitchen, with my own kitchen supplies, and minus the travelling.

I hope to bake my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log for our Christmas dessert…if time runs out, I can always pick up a frozen Guardian Angel Chocolate Yule Log at my local Metro which is free of peanut/tree nuts, dairy and eggs.

I hope to post photos along the way…stay tuned!

How are your plans for an allergy free holidays going this season?

2012 Christmas Santa on tree

Merry Christmas!

The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown: Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

I was sooo excited to see The Toronto Star’s Day 12 Cookie Calendar Countdown Cookie…Jae Steele’s Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies…a cookie that was already dairy and egg free!

Love the name…’Sugar Plum Fairy Cookies’…plum jam is one of my favourites!

I knew this was a cookie I definitely wanted to try. Click here for the original recipe from The Toronto Star.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten how hard it would be to find brown rice flour let alone find one that was free of my son’s allergens…dairy, egg, sesame and peanut/tree nuts. I had no such luck…so I opted for oat flour.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free ‘Sugar Plum Oat Fairy Cookies’

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie'

Combining three of my favourite flavours…cinnamon, oats and plum jam…I loved them!

In the end, I did need to adapt Jae’s recipe…I needed to increase the oat flour to 2 1/2 cups…it was still a bit wet and sticky but much more easily manageable. I also switched the nutmeg to ground ginger as a personal preference. I baked the cookies for 10 minutes, then indented them with my thumb and added the 1/2 tsp of plum jam and baked them for a further 6-8 minutes. I baked half the recipe at 350 F in the same manner as the above with similar results.

Who does not love the combination of cinnamon, oats and chocolate!

Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free 'Sugar Plum Fairy Cookie' with Chocolate

Try sprinkling in Enjoy Life’s Chocolate Chips for a kid friendly option!

Tip 1: For those that can tolerate wheat free oats…I found Chateau Cream Hill Estates product, Lara’s Whole Grain Oat Flour. Right on the front of the package it reads, “FREE OF: Wheat, Barley, Rye Triticale, Spelt and Kamut.” On the side panel, is an advisory stating that “Current scientific literature suggests that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate eating limited amounts of pure and uncontaminated oat flour…” ending with “Please check with your doctor and/or dietician before introducing oats into your diet.” Click here for a link to their website to read more about their products.

Tip 2: One can always make their own oat flour by processing whole oats in a food processor until a fine ground.

Tip 2: Incidentally, finding the Greaves Plum Jam was not hard for me to find…MacMillans Orchards in Ajax sells many varieties of Greaves products. My personal favourite plum jam, as well as my mother’s, is Mirabelle Plum by St. Dalfour. Their no sugar added jams are only sweetened with concentrated grape juice and are gluten-free.

I made some specifically for my mother to enjoy over the holiday season using St. Dalfour’s Mirabelle Plum Jam.

I will have to tuck them away to keep me from eating them!

P.S. Have you been following along with Jennifer Bain’s Cookie Calendar Countdown in The Toronto Star? Have you tried any of the cookies? What types of cookies entice you to bring out the bakeware? Would you consider adapting a recipe to suit your food allergens or do you prefer to buy prepackaged allergen friendly baked goods? Would love to hear from you!

Christmas Tradition: The Dill Pickle Ornament Prize: Dairy, Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Fondue

The first year of our marriage, I pulled out Christmas ornaments that my cousin had given my husband and I for our wedding…one of which was a pickle…a pickle?

dill pickle ornament on christmas tree

Back in the box it went.

Little did I know there was a story to go with the pickle.  I didn’t discover the story until a few years ago when I stumbled upon pickle ornaments for sale.

These pickles had a story…as legend had it, the tradition started in Germany. German families would hide a pickle ornament in their trees…the first child to find the pickle received an extra gift from St Nick and enjoyed a year of good fortune.

Another legend has it that a Bavarian (John Lower) came to America to fight in the Civil War…in jail and near starvation, he asked for a pickle…the pickle gave him the strength to survive…he began the tradition of hanging a pickle ornament on his tree and the finder received a year of good luck

Knowing the story behind the pickle…I quickly picked one up for my nephews…it became the prize for their first pickle hunt at our house one Christmas…and so the legend continues.

This year, Matthew was the finder of the pickle ornament…a chocolate fondue pot with dairy and peanut/tree nut free fondue chocolate from Guardian Angel was his gift for finding the pickle.

chocolate fondue pot and chocolate fondue chocolate from Guardian Angel

Matthew was super excited!

The Christmas Holiday’s were very busy…we just recently enjoyed our family chocolate fondue dessert. Thus, this late entry of our Christmas tradition.

It was a winner!

Chocolate Fondue for Dessert

guardian angel chocolate fondue night

1 bar of Guardian Angel fondue chocolate
1 clementine peeled
1 sliced banana
fresh strawberries
slice of Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake cut in cubes

Melt the bar of chocolate in a heat proof bowl over simmering water until melted.

guardian angel chocolate melting in a heat proof bowl over simmering waterPour into fondue pot with a lid tea light underneath.

Enjoy!

Chocolate covered strawberry.

strawberry dipped in  guardian angel chocolate fondue

Chocolate covered banana.

banana slice covered in guardian angel chocolate fondue

Chocolate covered clementine.

clementine slice covered in guardian angel chocolate fondue

Chocolate covered Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Banana Bundt Cake.

dairy, egg, soy and peanut/tree nut free banana bundt cake covered in guardian angel chocolate fondue

Pictures of the chocolate covered fruit and cake are a bit blurry because the kids could not stop laughing when they were holding them…they just wanted to eat it!

Kids got the photography bug with the chocolate covered strawberry.

boys taking photos of the chocolate covered strawberry

Favourites were the chocolate covered strawberries and bananas. Frankly, it all tasted awesome…anything covered in chocolate taste yummy!

I was impressed that all the fruit was polished off! I should offer chocolate covered fruit more often!

Finger lickin good!

dipping fingers into the chocolate fondue pot

The pickle ornament has been packed away for another year…the fondue set will definitely be used again…I have a second bar of fondue chocolate hidden away for a special day!

Do you have a pickle ornament tradition at your house?

Celebrating Our Ukrainian Heritage: Egg and Dairy Free Daiya Cheese Pierogies

One of my husband’s favourite meals growing up was Pierogies, Cabbage Rolls and Meat on a Stick.(a recipe I am hoping to master and post about soon)

dairy free daiya pierogi, roasted beets, steamed brocolli and a cabbage roll

My father-in-law’s parents immigrated from the Ukraine to Canada before he was born. He was raised in Northern Canada on his mother’s Ukrainian cooking, learning to speak Ukrainian along with French and English.

With his parents passing, his ability to converse in Ukrainian waned…however, his love for his mother’s Ukrainian dishes lived on.

My father-in-law is the Pierogi King!

my father-in-law...the pierogi king

New Year’s Day found us on the road home from our visit with my brother’s family. We stopped in at my in-laws to wish them a Happy New Year. My father-in-law was busy whipping up batches of pierogies. A sampling was packaged up to add to our supper.

Over the years, my father-in-laws pierogies have been the most sought after dish at any family gathering. Not so for my boys…Matthew, who can eat them, wouldn’t and claimed he didn’t like them…Michael, who couldn’t eat them due to his dairy allergy, would look longingly at them, wishing he could try them.

It is only just lately, that Matthew’s curiousity has got the better of him and he has been asking to sample a pierogi…much to his delight he has ‘seen the light’ and is now a pierogi convert!

All the more reason for me to put my thinking cap on and work out an adaption.

Bringing them home that night was yet another reminder…but wait…I could adapt them…what if I used Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds for the cheese and Earth Balance Butttery Vegan Sticks for the butter?

The next morning found me out and about picking up potatoes and Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds…I had enough Earth BalanceButtery Vegan Sticks.

I found a recipe for Pierogy Dough at Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine. Click here for the Potato Water Dough (8) recipe.

I figured out a recipe for the potato filling from what I knew my father-in-law put in his pierogies and the starting point of measurements from a family friend’s Ukrainian family recipe… then just tasted for any adjustments.

May I present to you…a thing of beauty…Egg and Dairy Free Daiya Pierogies!

bowl of dairy free daiya pierogies

Egg and Dairy Free Daiya Pierogies

Potato Filling Ingredients

10 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Vegan Sticks, more for coating in bowl
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
freshly ground pepper to taste
reserve 2 cups of potato water for dough

Tip: For a soy free version use Earth Balance Soy Free Natural Spread.

Follow recipe for dough from Ukrainian Classic Kitchen and International Cuisine, Potato Water Dough (8). (link above)

Tip 1: I kneaded the dough until it was nice and soft and then wrapped tightly in Saran wrap to rest.

Potato Filling

Thinly slice potatoes and place in a large pot. Fill with water to just cover the potatoes with a 1 tsp of kosher salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer until fork tender. Drain water, reserving 2 cups of potato water in a liquid measure for dough.

Mash potatoes in pot. Stir in the Earth Balance and Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and pepper to taste.

potatoes with earth balance and daiya cheddar style shreds for pierogies

Once the dough has rested, take a small tablespoon size of dough and using your fingers, spread out the dough in a circle. Place on a well floured mat and roll out nice and thin. Scoop out a couple of tablespoons of potato filling and place in the middle of the rolled out dough. Pull the dough up and over the filling and seal the dough.

stages of putting together a dairy free daiya pierogi

Place the pierogi on a floured tea towel and continue.

dairy free daiya pierogies on a tea towel

Be liberal with your use of flour…helps with the sealing of the pierogi.

a finished dairy free daiya pierogi

Tip 1: Be sure to seal your pierogies well so there will be no leaking of potato filling in the water.

Tip 2: Only cook what you will eat that day and the next. The rest can be frozen on a cookie sheet and then transferred to freezer bags.

Cooking the Pierogies

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add a few pierogies at a time. They have finished cooking when they float to the top of the water. Place in a large bowl with Earth Balance…add enough to keep the pierogies from sticking together…you be the judge.

Enjoy!

enjoying a bite of a dairy free daiya pierogi

I had to come back later for this photo as we were so hungry I forgot to take any extra pictures…it was a pierogi feast…they were soooooo good!)

I cooked up way too many pierogies…perfect for leftovers the next night…Bacon and Onion Fried Pierogies anyone?

Bacon and Onion Egg and Dairy Free Fried Pierogies

a plate of bacon and onion fried pierogies, dough balls and steamed carrots

In a fry pan, add 5 slices of diced bacon and a diced small onion. Cook until starting to crisp. Add in the leftover pierogies and toss to warm up with the bacon and onion. You may need to add a bit more Earth Balance.

dairy free daiya pierogies frying in a pan with diced bacon and onion

Enjoy!

enjoying a bite of a dairy free daiya bacon and onion fried pierogi

What do you do with any leftover pierogi dough? My father-in-law would say makeDough Balls.

Egg and Dairy Free Dough Balls

Michael rolled out tablespoon sized dough pieces.

pierogi dough rolled out for dough balls

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and toss in all the dough pieces. When they have risen to the top they are cooked. Place in a bowl with Earth Balance and toss to cover.

cooked dough balls in a bowl with earth balance

Enjoy!

Here is how the boys rated the pierogies:

Michael liked the Dough Balls, then the Bacon and Onion Fried Pierogies and then the Original Pierogies.

Matthew liked the Original Pierogies, then the Dough Balls and lastly the Bacon and Onion Fried Pierogies.

P.S. Making Pierogies is very time consuming…but well worth the effort put into them. I made half one day and the rest the next day. I highly recommend making them at one time…I left the dough out on the counter and it went all moldy…I had to make another half a batch of dough for the rest of the pierogies…those I froze.

After discussing my faux pas with my in-laws, they recommended making the potato filling the day before and then the dough and the Pierogies the next…never both and certainly not at the same time as making Cabbage Rolls. Ooops!

As my husband said, “Don’t ask me…ask the experts!”

P.P.S The timing for making Dairy Free Daiya Pierogies and Cabbage Rolls is perfect for celebrating Ukrainian Christmas on January 6, 2012.

P.P.P.S. Cabbage rolls will be posted on Friday…my mother-in-law’s specialty! Click here for the link.

P.P.P.P.S. My in-laws just purchased a Black and Decker Bread Maker in the sales and made their first loaf of bread…they substituted in oil for the fat…a healthy choice.

Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log with Chocolate Bark

A Christmas tradition, I am so happy to be able to recreate, is serving a Yule Log for dessert on Christmas Day.

Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log with Chocolate Bark

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log

Last year, was my first year attempting to put one together. The idea was sparked by Guardian Angel’s Allergen Free Yule Logs.

I believe, it was in my Allergic Living magazine, that I first spied Guardian Angel’s advertisement for their Allergen Free Chocolate Christmas Log.

I was so excited…even more excited when I was able to purchase one for our Christmas dinner. Located in the freezer section at Metro.

Our first store-bought cake…I kept it as a surprise…I came out with it on a platter still in the protective wrapping.

Oh, the look on my boys’ faces when they realized what was being presented for dessert.

It was a very exciting moment…in the boys’ words…”Cool!”

As much as they loved the idea of a cake from outside of our kitchen and the fact it tasted good…they informed me that they liked my cakes better…in particular, my icing.

In Matthew’s word: “I like yours better…I’m not just saying that…”

I was determined to create our own Allergen Free Christmas Yule Log.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log with Chocolate Bark

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log

Half the recipe for Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Birthday Cake.
Line a 1″ deep jelly roll pan (approximately 9 by 13″) with parchment paper and spray with canola oil.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate cake batter in pan for yule log

Bake 350 F for  12-15 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Turn cake out on an icing sugar lined tea towel.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate cake on icing sugar lined tea towel

Sprinkle with icing sugar and roll cake up carefully from the long end.
Let cool on  rack.

rolled up dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate cake in tea towel

Make half the recipe of Dairy Free Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Icing. I added a bit more water to each of the icings so it was easier to spread on the cake.

Unroll cake when cooled. (Do not fret if the cake cracks.)

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate cake unrolledSpread the cake with Dairy Free Vanilla Icing…pushing together the cracked edges and spreading icing to cover. See…no problem!

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate cake iced with vanilla icingCarefully roll up cake and wrap snuggly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Unwrap plastic wrap from cake and spread with Dairy Free Chocolate Icing.

Last year, I spread the cake with the Dairy Free Chocolate Icing to look rough like bark, sprinkled it with icing sugar and decorated it with a Santa and Christmas tree.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log without chocolate bark

This year, I couldn’t resist trying something different…chocolate bark!

Chocolate Bark

The idea for covering the Yule Log with chocolate bark came from a recipe from the Canadian Living Special Cookbook Edition, Fall 2011. When I saw the picture with the log covered in chocolate bark…I had to try it. So glad I did! Easy to do and it looks terrific!

In a bowl over a saucepan of hot water, melt 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips.
Spread the melted chocolate to a thickness of 3 mm on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

enjoy life chocolate chips melted and spread on parchment paper for chocolate bark

Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Break the chocolate into 3 by 1″ pieces, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

 melted enjoy life chocolate chips broken into pieces

Press the broken pieces of chocolate on to the iced cake and dust with icing sugar.

                                                              Ta Da!

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log with chocolate bark

Not quite sure how well the cake will cut with all the broken chocolate on it. Will update after Christmas.

Update: Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log was scrumpdillicious! Is that a word? It is now!

slice of dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log

Slicing the Yule Log wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined…just make sure the cake is kept cool for slicing…I used a bread knife.

slicing the dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free chocolate yule log with bread knife

Everyone loved the chocolate bark! A very tasty addition.

Inviting the neighbourhood kids in this afternoon, to share what’s left of the Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log, after the boys have a game of road hockey.

Tip: For a Soy Free Icing use Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan Spread.

P.S. I am putting together an Allergen Friendly Christmas Dinner for Michael to take to my in-laws: Roast Turkey with Dairy Free Gravy and Stuffing and Dairy Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I made the Dairy Free Stuffing the day before so it was ready to stuff the turkey early in the morning.

Can you believe, I was able to pick fresh parsley from my garden for the stuffing!

I will also be bringing a Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick for everyone to enjoy. Will be bringing a cutting board and bread knife.

P.P.S. Do you have a favourite recipe you have adapted for your Christmas dessert or dessert in general? Have you tried the Guardian Angel Christmas Logs?

Merry Christmas!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

The Toronto Star’s Cookie Calendar, Day 17 cookie, caught my eye…I knew my boys would go gaga over them…so I adapted them to meet their allergen needs.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch.

dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies on a cake stand

They taste as good as they look. Crispy on the outside, minty and fudgey in the middle with an extra dose of chocolate and peppermint crunch on top…pure decadence!

Truly, they should be renamed, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Triple Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies!

I adapted the original recipe (click here) to be dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free. Replace the butter with Earth Balance and use Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Replace the egg with 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 2 tbsp of water. For a soy free version, replace the butter with Earth Balance’s Soy Free Vegan Spread.

I baked these fudgy delights in the morning and had the boys help with the decorating after school.

decorating dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

Matthew crushed the candy canes in a sealed plastic ziplock back with a rolling pin.

crushing candy canes in a plastic bag with rolling pin

Michael drizzled the warmed up chocolate over the cookies while Matthew followed with the sprinkling of the crushed candy canes.

my boys drizzling chocolate and sprinkling crushed candy canes on dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

Picture perfect!

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies on a cake stand

Enjoy!

enjoying a double chocolate peppermint crunch cookie

The Peppermint Organic Candy Canes are made by TruSweets. I like them because they  are made in Canada with all natural ingredients, no artificial flavors or colors and are corn syrup free.

package of candy canes by TruSweet

It does state on the packaging: Produced on dedicated nut-free and gluten-free equipment in a segregated area of a facility that also processes dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat.

Depending on your level of comfort, these Candy Canes are a great option for those looking for an allergen free alternative, free of artificial ingredients.

In the Christmas Spirit… I just couldn’t help but want to share these delectable Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Double (Triple) Chocolate Peppermint Crunch cookies with the boys’ friends and neighbours.

Let’s not forget Matthew’s teacher…goes perfect with a Tim’s card!

packages of dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

P.S. Don’t worry boys, I saved youl some Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Speculaas Cookies

I have been following Jennifer Bain’s Cookie Calendar Countdown to Christmas in the Toronto Star’s Living section throughout the month of December. Posting my adaptions, on Facebook, to make each cookie recipe dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free.

I have been eager to put one of her recipes to the test. I adapted her Speculaas recipe (click here for recipe)… Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Speculaas Cookies.

dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free speculaas cookies

Speculaas cookies have always intrigued me…they are a traditional dutch cookie that are not too sweet and compliment a cup of tea or coffee with their touch of spicy simplicity.

Typically, a carved wooden mold was used to create images on the Speculaas such as a windmill. This is such a mold I picked up while travelling in Europe in my youth.

carved wooden mold for speculaas cookies

My mother and I set out in search of a similar mold. My mother suggested European Imports/The Dutch Market. Inside, the shop was filled with an assortment of Dutch products: baked goods, a deli, specialty food items, chocolates, tea towels, and wooden clogs. I couldn’t resist purchasing the beautiful windmill tea towel!

Alas, we did not find a windmill mold. So we improvised…and went to Michael’s…and purchased a fancy mold for stamping the Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Speculaas.

stamp from michael's to stamp speculaas cookie dough

Although the stamp is not specifically made for pressing into sticky dough, it worked out pretty well. Make sure you keep flouring the stamp between pressings.

cooling dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free speculaas cookies with stamp

For my dairy free version, I replaced the butter with Earth Balance. For a soy free version, use Earth Balance’s Soy Free Vegan Spread. I omitted the ground cloves, nutmeg, mace (my kids prefer less spice) and almonds. If you like a spicier cookie, I would increase the ginger and cinnamon.

The dough was rather sticky. I thought I had made the cookies thin enough, however, I would have liked them thinner for a crispier cookie. My husband, on the other hand, loves softer cookies and felt these were perfect in texture and spice. I loved the touch of lemon!

Enjoy!

enjoying a dairy,egg and peanut/tree nut free speculaas cookie

 Tip: Packaged up, Dairy,Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Speculaas make a great little something to give to family friends to thank them for all they do for, in my case, my mother.

When you live a distance from a loved one…nice to know there are people that you can count on to be there for the ones you love. Thank you.

package of dairy, egg and peanut/tree nut free speculaas cookies for family friends

P.S. The Cookie Calendar, Day 17 adapted version: Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies, will be posted on Friday.

Matthew’s verdict…tasty with crunch. Michael’s verdict… very good. My verdict…amazing…a minty, fudgey decadence!

Christmas Past and Present: Adapting to an Allergen Free Christmas

Childhood memories at this time of year are priceless!

For me, it’s the smell of pine trees (we had a real tree until my mom figured out my dad and I were allergic to it),a turkey roasting and cookies baking in the oven while in the background, Johnny Matthis sings, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” on the record player.

2011 Christmas tree As a parent, one hopes to fill their children’s memory jar chock full of them.

I often worry what kind of childhood memories my boys will have as they get older. Holidays are often centered on the food, which, when you have mulitiple food allergies…can pose some challenges.

Advent Calendars with little chocolate treats for each day, chocolate Santas in stockings Christmas morning, Christmas baking by friends and relatives, school parties with baked treats…all obstacles for my children with food allergies.

As a mother, it pained me to have them feel excluded from many of the traditional Christmas treats…therefore,  we came up with our own traditions:

An Advent Calendar with velcro Christmas decorations to adorn the tree.

first advent calender with velcro decorations for the tree

Maple Sugar Santas for their stockings.(from MacMillan’s Orchards)

maple sugar santa for the boys' stocking

Thank goodness for Guardian Angel…three years ago my boys enjoyed their first Chocolate Advent Calendar.

guardian angel advent calenders for the boys

I have perfected the Roasted Turkey dinner with Dairy Free Stuffing, Gravy and fresh Dairy Free and Peanut/Tree Nut Free French Stick on the side.

It gives me great pleasure to recreate my childhood favourite holiday cookies for my boys memory bank: Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Gingerbread, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies, Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Thumbprint Cookies, Dairy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Orange Shortbread, and especially…Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log.

I hope you have been enjoying them too!

Creating new traditions in a society that holds on to their traditions with a firm grip has not been easy. I like to think our new traditions will help pave the way for generations to come!

P.S. Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Yule Log will be posted Christmas Day.