Tag Archives: food

Pass the pancakes

Call me a weirdo, but watching my kid eat is one of my favorite parts of parenting. Seeing his reaction to different tastes and textures, how he grows more adept at picking up and maneuvering small pieces, his discovering he can attempt to slyly slip the dog a few bites — sometimes different meals feel like milestones. Add allergies to the mix, and constant redirection to make sure he’s not scratching himself silly during dinner and it’s also been pretty stressful. (We’ve found keeping a small toy on his tray also helps keep one of his hands busy so he’s less likely to scratch.)


We took Emmett to a specialist for testing (scratch test, blood draw) a few weeks ago. It turns out little E is VERY allergic to sesame (something we suspected after his hummus episode), all nuts, chickpeas, soy, wheat, barley, garlic, oat, egg white and dog. He’s also mildly allergic to milk. We now carry Epi pens in the diaper bag.

Those results were pretty overwhelming for us, so we stocked up some books and sought out support from friends. Turns out Jen’s son has a few allergies of his own, and these days the internet abounds with recipe ideas. (Kristen recently went gluten-free!) Right now, it’s pretty manageable because we can continue to feed him his basic “paleo-esque” veggies, fruits and meats diet. When he realizes he’s once again eating sweet potatoes while his parents chow down on homemade pizza, or if he doesn’t grow out of many of these before school starts, it’s going to be a lot harder.

We’re getting creative, though. Everyone in this house, down to Wilbur, is a big fan of pancakes. Seriously, they are Wilbur’s favorite. Check out pancake crazy eye.

20140426_081432We didn’t want Emmett to miss out on a weekend treat. Joe found a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free, soy-free pancake mix and we used a banana to bind it and watered down the required milk. They stuck a bit to the pan, but in the end tasted like little banana bread cakes!


We’ve also tried and liked Ancient Grains garden pagodas quinoa pasta (which Joe picked up at Whole Foods) to replace his beloved rotini. Emmett snarfed quite a bit the other night and I liked what I sampled! Dole mixed fruit cups are also a great grab-and-go when we don’t have fresh pears or something on hand. They aren’t packed in syrup and don’t include artificial sweeteners, and I rinse them before serving. I got a pack at Hy-Vee.

Now soliciting ideas for a gluten, egg, soy, nut, oat, etc-free first birthday cake recipe. Thank goodness he’s cleared for chocolate! 🙂


Filed under Baby, Cooking

State Fair Food at Home: Italian Sausage Grinders

I should probably divide my life into two eras: Life before I’d experienced the Iowa State Fair and Life After the Fair. I’m exaggerating, but as a transplant to this great state I’ve definitely come to love the Fair – especially its kitschier, more down-home elements, like the miniature animals, food competitions, butter sculptures and beard-growing contest.


I got to run around the fair a lot in my time as a reporter for Juice, and after interviewing fair-crazed Des Moinesians (I called them “fairwolves” in an article), I got the inside scoop on the best things to experience. One of those readers tipped me off to the goodness that is the State Fair Grinder, and I coerced Joe into coming up with a way to re-create them at home. I especially love cooking these in the depths of winter, but we made them this weekend as the Fair approaches to count down.


A grinder is essentially a loose-meat Italian sausage sandwich, with red sauce, onions and green peppers served topped with melted cheese on a hoagie bun. Here’s how to make our version at home. Note that if you live in Des Moines, there’s no substitution for Graziano Brothers Italian Sausage. It’s the best.


First, brown your Italian sausage. (If you’re wondering, yes, that is the tail end of a ceramic manatee spoonrest on our range.) Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.


Then, chop up your onion and green pepper into bite-size chunks. Add the onion, chop the pepper and then combine and cook.



Then add in your red pasta sauce and stir it all together. You can also chop up and add some garlic to taste, if you like.


While the filling is simmering, hollow out the hoagie bun a little bit. This will help prevent it from breaking on the bottom, spilling your sandwich’s guts. We had enough for four grinders, but reserved half the filling for seconds the next day.


Line a pan with foil and fill the hoagies with the sausage mixture.


Top with sliced provolone cheese, then pop in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes – enough to brown the cheese.


I wouldn’t recommend putting this sandwich on a stick. Keep a nice stack of napkins and handy and pour yourself something refreshing to drink. It’s hot and spicy.


Now there’s a little taste of the State Fair in your kitchen! What’s your favorite element of the Iowa State Fair, or the fair where you live?


Filed under Cooking

Low-key lasagna NYE

Welcome, welcome 2013!

lasagna slice

Last night we hosted our NYE Pops pre-symphony dinner party, dishing out big pieces of lasagna*, a spinach-pear-red onion salad and my first attempt at tres leches cake for dessert (using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe). It was a wonderfully low-key evening, considering I woke up with a nasty cold and was able to see lots of friends yet still be in bed by 1 a.m.

*We made two from the HyVee Holiday 2012 Seasons magazine recipe, minus one layer because really, how is that going to fit in a pan? It was yummy, but if we do it again we will add onions and a little more seasoning/garlic because those just take everything to the next level.

Christa and Richard came into town from Chicago for the long weekend, and of course, I put them to work tracing/cutting/glittering masks for the evening. Such troopers.


(I got the mask template via Ruche’s Homemade Holiday e-zine.) Christa and I also got our sewing on and made double sided fabric headbands. I was all about actully doing something I’d seen on Pinterest over break and these are a super cute and easy sewing project, plus I already had the elastic on hand.

By the end of the night I had sneezed all of my makeup off, switched from contacts to my old glasses and we were watching the countdown on TV with the sound off and a Spoon record on. Here’s to a fantastic year with lots of surprises ahead. We find out in a little more than two weeks if it’s a boy or girl!


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Filed under At home, I love Des Moines