Dairy-Free Monkey Bread; a New Year

We just had four birthdays in one month’s time in our family. Somehow the tradition of picking your birthday dinner has stretched to picking your birthday breakfast and lunch, too, which is a fine trick to pull off on school days. But I have a bit more time to put into fun treats like that now that all four kids are in school full time and I can shop on my own while older gentlemen flirt with me, right Nicole? This dairy-free monkey bread was one of the requested breakfasts, lovingly made by a big sister for her little brother.

It’s been good for me to have so many kids, for many reasons. I can’t focus all of my laser-like worrying on one of them, and going through stages four times has made it easier for me to say goodbye to each stage as it passes for the last time. Not that parenting is about me; I think (hope) this makes things easier for the kids, too. Less emoting from Mom and so on.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated as I often do with a trip to our local orchard. Since I didn’t have any kids to take, I tagged along with my dad, sister and nephews. It was just a perfect fall day, made bittersweet by a funeral we’d attended the day before for one of my family’s dearest friends. He is the only non-relative my children call “Grandpa,” and his twelve neighborhood “grandchildren” (two by birth, the rest by luck) were even mentioned in the service. Many stories were shared, and there was so much laughter and joy.

It’s a wonderful thing to see how much one person’s life can touch so many others. It’s good to reflect on as I turn a year older.

Dairy-Free Monkey Bread
Easy, delicious dairy-free monkey bread
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  3. 3 7.5 oz. cans of dairy-free refrigerator biscuits
  4. 1 cup dairy-free margarine
  5. 1 cup brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Oil a Bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Put the sugar and cinnamon in a large zip top plastic bag.
  4. Cut the biscuits into quarters.
  5. Place the biscuit quarters in the bag with the sugar mixture.
  6. Seal the bag and shake until the biscuits are coated with the sugar mixture.
  7. Arrange the biscuit pieces in the Bundt pan.
  8. In a saucepan, boil the margarine and brown sugar together for one minute.
  9. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the biscuits in the Bundt pan.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes.
  11. Immediately flip the bread out onto a large, rimmed pan.
  12. Serve.
  13. Leftovers may be stored at room temperature.
Notes
  1. Many refrigerator biscuits are dairy free. Yes, even ones labeled "buttermilk." Just check the labels carefully!
  2. Some monkey bread recipes call for 1/2 cup of butter or margarine instead of 1 cup, but the added margarine makes this bread especially caramel-y. Save the recipe for special occasions and use the whole cup!
Adapted from from my neighbor's recipe
Adapted from from my neighbor's recipe
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/

Summertime, and This Smoothie is Easy

Every year I think I remember how quickly summer goes by and just how little I’ll get done while everyone is home, and every year I forget. Each day goes by so quickly, with barely enough time to get basic items checked off my list. 

That doesn’t mean I don’t outsource a lot of my school-year jobs to the kids, though. Cooking seems to be the task everyone volunteers for first… laundry is last. The nine-year old is especially interested in kitchen work this summer. She makes these smoothies almost every morning for herself and anyone else who is interested. I’m sure we’ll branch out into more exotic flavors at some point, but simple works for us right now.

Summer used to be my least favorite season, but now I love it. I love these wide-open days with these growing, changing kids. It’s the best. Hope you are enjoying summer, too. Cheers!

Easy Chocolate Smoothie
An easy, kid-friendly smoothie for summer mornings or school mornings
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup chocolate almond milk
  2. 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  3. 1 T. creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Makes two medium smoothies or one extra-large smoothie.
Notes
  1. You can use another dairy-free chocolate milk and/or nut butter if desired.
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/

Dairy-Free Vanilla Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting

We had another birthday here last week, which means Eli is eleven. (What.) He once again requested ninjabread men for his school birthday treat. So this was the sixth and final year of me spending the night before his birthday hunched over the dining table frosting three dozen of those little buggers darlings. 

Dairy-Free Ninjabread Men Attack

 

It also means that I’ve been blogging (if you can call it that) and writing on the Internet (sporadically) for ten years. The second post I ever wrote was about Eli’s first birthday party. That is crazytown. I miss those early blogging days.

The birthday boy requested yellow cake with chocolate frosting, which his sister kindly baked for him. Her new go-to yellow cake recipe is this one from Catherine Newman–gently adapted to be dairy free. Katherine frosted it with our favorite chocolate frosting recipe. This is a very easy, sturdy cake that doesn’t crumble or tear when you frost it. *cough*extra moist cake mix*cough* My dad liked it so much, he requested it for his birthday this weekend.

Happy Birthday, Eli.

Dairy-Free Vanilla Cake
A great basic vanilla cake recipe using ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 cup plain almond milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar
  4. 1 cup vegetable oil
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  6. 2 1/2 cups white flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  2. Beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until they are thick and creamy, about one minute.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients and beat for a few seconds.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Pour the batter in to the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
  7. Let cool before frosting.
Notes
  1. Frost with this frosting recipe: http://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/chocolate-carrot-cake
Adapted from Catherine Newman
Adapted from Catherine Newman
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/

Dairy-Free Vanilla Doughnuts

 

We had a ninth birthday here last week. Among other things, the birthday girl received a doughnut necklace, handmade cards with doughnut drawings, and homemade doughnuts for her birthday breakfast. I think it’s safe to say that people know what she likes.

I bought doughnut pans on a whim, and it’s been really fun to make our own doughnuts at home. This recipe is a favorite because it’s so simple and easy to adapt. And these have to be better than fried doughnuts, right?

Dairy-Free Vanilla Doughnuts
Serves 12
Soft baked cake doughnuts are a dairy-free treat
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cup white sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 3/4 cup almond milk
  8. 2 eggs, beaten
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 1 tablespoon shortening, such as Nutiva
  11. Glaze Ingredients
  12. 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  13. 2 tablespoons hot water
  14. 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease two six-count doughnut pans with baking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another bowl, stir together the almond milk, eggs, vanilla and shortening.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat together until well blended.
  6. Fill each doughnut cup approximately 3/4 full.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the doughnuts spring back when touched. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
  8. Place the doughnuts on a cooling rack.
  9. To make the glaze, blend together the powdered sugar, hot water and almond extract in a small bowl.
  10. Dip the doughnuts in the glaze and then place back on the rack.
  11. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
  12. Store any unused doughnuts in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. These are also good with a chocolate glaze. To make the chocolate glaze, add 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips to the glaze recipe.
  2. You can also replace the almond extract in the glaze with vanilla extract.
Adapted from Allrecipes
Adapted from Allrecipes
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/

Fall

“The Summer has ended

The Summer has ended.

Notice, if you will, the swirling leaves….”–A Year With Frog and Toad

How was your summer? Ours was wonderful. It was great to slow down and enjoy one of the eighteen summers we get with these kiddos. We had so much fun, and I’ve been a whiny girl about school and activities starting up again. Catherine Newman even made peace with the fall before I did this year. What can I say? I miss the kids when they’re in school, and… I miss activity-free evenings.

I’m almost ready to embrace fall. It is the first official day of the season, so I guess it’s time. We visited the apple orchard last week. I bought some mums to replace the begonias on the porch. I also made pumpkin butter and plan to make Oatmeal Apple Butter Bars with apple butter from the orchard. 

If you’re looking for some back-to-school recipe inspiration, Katherine and I recommend Peanut Butter Protein Balls (with nut-free option) for snacks and Freezer Pancakes for busy mornings.

What do you do to celebrate fall?

Thankful

Photo courtesy of The Empire State Building

I want to take this, the last day of Food Allergy Awareness Month, to say thank you. It has been a wonderful month made especially great by the efforts of Turn it Teal. It was So. Cool. to see the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center turn their lights teal for food allergy awareness right after we’d been to visit New York City. 

There are two people I want to thank this year: Our band director and our middle school principal. They approach food allergies in two different yet successful ways.

Our band director doesn’t know much about food allergies, and, more importantly, doesn’t pretend he knows much about food allergies. I would much rather have someone say, “I don’t understand, I know I don’t understand, and I am happy to do whatever I can to make things safe,” then not speak up and just assume they know what’s going on.

Mr. H has done just that, repeatedly saying, “Sure, whatever you need!” And then giving us whatever we need without question. If he mistakenly arranges something in an unsafe manner, he happily changes things. He just wants his kids with medical issues to be able to participate safely, which we know K. will be able to continue to do for the next four years.

The other person I want to thank is our middle school principal. Mr. C has been K’s principal for three years. Next year she moves to a new school. He has been very involved with K’s needs: picking up safe pizzas and ice cream for class parties for her himself, calling me when an issue arises, talking to the cafeteria staff, etc. He asked for permission to schedule and then run her 504 meeting for the fall because he wants the hand off to go smoothly. He believes, quite correctly, that there are some administrative issues that he can explain to the other principal more clearly than I could. Also, he is invested in her and wants to help things go well with her move to the high school. This level of involvement from an administrator is such a gift. We will miss him very much.

I am thankful for these two men and their commitment to keeping their students safe, each in his own way.

 

 

Vignettes from a School Trip

We had a wonderful time in NYC and got home without any incidents. We already want to go back!

But I wanted to share some things that happened as an illustration of why I think allergic teenagers still need an adult advocate with them on a big trip like this, where they are at the will of the tour guide company and there is one nurse for 80 kids.

 

The tour guide company wants to try to plan the allergen-safe meals themselves because you are paying a lot of money for their service. You decide to let them try because you know you will be along for the trip. Someone in the office calls you to give a progress report. “I have spent HOURS on the phone tracking down this information. I asked for the ingredients in the meal at the first restaurant and the person on the phone LAUGHED.” She then tells you, in so many words, not to sue them if things go wrong.

***

You packed some food but are unable to bring food into many venues due to heightened security. You do not return to the hotel until nighttime each day. You are in a large group and are not able to go off on your own to buy food very often. You make sure to have small prepackaged desserts and some nut butter packets for protein, being very careful of your nut allergic friend and using lots of hand wipes.

***

You have poured over the entire trip schedule making plans for each meal. The very first stop on the interstate is listed as a choice of two restaurants. Your bus pulls up in front of a third choice with nothing else nearby. 

***

You find the manager at the first dinner restaurant and ask if there is dairy in either meat being served to the group. “No. No dairy.”

“You’re sure.”

“Yes.”

“No milk, cheese, butter….”

“Oh yeah, there’s butter in the rib marinade.”

You get a double order of chicken.

***

Because you are in a group of 100 people being served a limited number of choices, the dairy-free options are often gluten-free and vegan as well. Plain roasted vegetable salad is not a big hit. 

***

Your small group also includes a nut allergic child, necessitating at least two stops for lunch during free times: one for a nut-free meal and one for a dairy-free meal. These girls have been friends since Kindergarten, and happily coexist eating each other’s allergens.

***

Your tour guide often says you need the “gluten free meal” instead of the dairy-free meal, and mistakenly tries to order you a bun-less cheeseburger like the one the gluten-free teen on your trip is eating.

***

Because your meals are prepared separately, your group is often the last one to eat, sometimes having to leave food unfinished. Your chaperon may or may not have lost her mind during the last meal and told you to sit and eat because they aren’t going to leave without you. 🙂

 

These incidents are all par for the course and not worth getting upset over, but I do think they are too much for an eighth grader to deal with alone. Adults sometimes don’t take kids’ concerns as seriously as they should. It pays to have an adult allergy spokesperson who won’t take no for an answer.

Dairy-Free Shoofly Pie

This Pennsylvania Dutch treat is one of my favorite pies. It is often served for breakfast, and who am I to argue? It’s so good with a cup of coffee and uses ingredients you probably have in your house right now.

Of course I’m posting this for Pi Day, but I’m also posting it in honor of my Aunt Jenny, who passed away in January. We are having her memorial service this coming weekend, and of course she is on my mind. Jenny was, among many other things, a fabulous cook. If I ever served her something and she asked for the recipe, I was immensely flattered. In recent years, I served Shoofly Pie to Jenny, and she said she’d never had it before. I couldn’t believe I’d found something my well-traveled, well-fed aunt had never eaten!

There are many, many variations of Shoofly Pie. I found this recipe years ago on the now defunct BeanPlate blog and made it dairy free. Enjoy, happy Pi Day, and I love you, Jenny.

Dairy-Free Shoofly Pie
Molasses pie, perfect for dessert--or breakfast!
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Ingredients
  1. One dairy-free pie crust
Filling
  1. 1 cup boiling water
  2. 1/3 cup molasses
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
Crumbs
  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Press piecrust into a pie pan.
  3. Crimp edges.
  4. Mix the filling ingredients together until the molasses is dissolved.
  5. Mix the crumb ingredients together with your hands until they are the consistency of...crumbs.
  6. Pour the filling mixture into the piecrust.
  7. Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the filling.
  8. Carefully place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Nora Bee at BeanPlate
Adapted from Nora Bee at BeanPlate
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/

Tenth Birthday; Dairy-Free Cookie Icing

Today Eli is ten. Double digits. Goodness. To celebrate, we are on year seven of a John Deere cake for dessert and year six of ninjabread men for a school treat. He’s a man who knows what he likes. And you can’t say I haven’t gotten my money’s worth out of those purchases.

Parenthetically, this also means that I’ve been blogging for nine years. 

The cookie recipe I use is the one from the back of the ninjabread men box, altered to be dairy free. Here is the dairy-free icing I make every year to decorate the ninjas. It sets up hard and glossy, perfect for transporting treats to school. Corn syrup is the magic ingredient that makes it work.

Happy Birthday, Eli.

Dairy-Free Cookie Icing
A hard-drying, glossy icing perfect for decorating sugar cookies or ninjabread men.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  3. 2 teaspoons dairy-free milk
  4. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together until well blended.
  2. You will be tempted to add more liquid as the icing is quite stiff, but don't!
  3. Spoon the icing into a piping bag.
  4. Use to pipe designs onto sugar or gingerbread cookies.
Notes
  1. I have the most success doing larger decorative items first (ninja masks) then going back and adding detail (ninja eyes) after the larger items are dry. That way they don't clump together.
No Whey, Mama http://nowheymama.com/