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Crunchy Granola bars – peanut free!

Crunchy, yummy granola bars!

My husband loves those Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bars, unfortunately they are not safe to keep in the house because or our son’s allergies.  I have been trying to find a replacement for him but, I haven’t found any granola bars, crunchy or chewy, which are safe for us!  Luckily, I enjoy playing around in the kitchen!   I have been playing with different ideas for a few months, usually the bars are pretty good, good enough for the 3 y/o at least, but not the sweet granola my dear husband is craving!  These ones came together beautifully!  My husband, who is not impressed by much,  refused to share his granola bar with our 14 month old.  Who can say “no” to a little blonde, dimpled boy who is turning on the charm????  Apparently, the granola bars are that good!

These bars are peanut free, egg free and could easily be tree nut (sub out another oil for the coconut oil, or talk to your allergist, not all consider coconut to be a tree nut) and gluten free (you can buy certified gluten free oats and oat cereal).


2 cups rolled oats, toasted

1/3 cup rolled oats, untoasted

1/3 cup quinoa flakes (if you cannot find quinoa flakes, double the oats)

2/3 Cheerio type cereal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon vanilla


To toast your oats, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the oats out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring them around every few minutes.

Spreading the oats out to be toasted

While the oats are toasting, add the untoasted oats and quinoa flakes to a food processor or blender and process until they become a course flour.  Next, add the oat cereal in the processor to break them up, just a bit.

Quinoa and oat flour mix with broken cereal bits

Combine the flour and cereal mixture with the toasted oats.

In a separate bowl, combine honey, brown sugar, coconut oil and vanilla.  Mix well.

Mix the wet ingredients in to the dry and combine.

Line a 9×13 pan with a sheet of parchment, press the granola mixture into the pan.   I like to use the smooth side of a meat mallet to really compress the mixture!

Compress those oats!

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until nicely golden brown.

Let the granola cool for about 10 minutes before cutting them into bars.



Herbed Pizza Dough

Every Friday is pizza night in our house.  We used to get pizza and wings from our local shop but, with a food allergic child eating out always carries with it the background concern of “what if”.  What if they go directly from making pasta to making dough without washing hands.  What if there is egg on the table where they work the dough, what if….  We don’t live in fear of his allergies, but since making pizza at home is easy, fun for the kids and costs far less than the $30+ pizza shop visits we have started making our pizza at home more and more.  I have been experimenting with the dough, trying to get that perfect crisp on the outside, soft on the inside texture, as well as something that will stretch nicely without tearing.

This dough stretches beautifully and has a nice crisp outside.  I do prefer to use bread flour, I think it lends to the crispiness of the crust:


3 – 3/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1.5 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoon Italian seasoning (my mix is listed at the end of this post)

2 – 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

1 – 1/2 cup warm water (about 107 – 112 degrees)

2 tablespoon olive oil


In the bowl of a stand mixer (using the paddle attachment), combine bread flour, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning and yeast.

Keep the mixer running and slowly add the water to the dry mix.  Mix until just combined and then switch to the dough hook (you may want to lightly grease your dough hook and collar to help prevent the dough from walking up the hook).  Keeping your mixer on a low speed (2 for my kitchen aid) work the dough.  If the dough is too sticky add more flour a spoonful at a time.  If the dough becomes too dry you can add warm water by the spoonful.

I knead my dough for about 10-12 minutes, paying attention that the mixer doesn’t walk off the counter!  You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl, but to still be attached at the bottom.

I forgot to oil my hook!

Lightly brush the inside of a glass or ceramic bowl with olive oil and scrape the dough into the bowl.  Flip the dough over a few times to lightly coat it in oil.  I like to leave my dough a little sticky.

Sticky Dough!

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set is a warm draft free place to rise for about an hour, until the dough doubles in size.

Divide the dough into two balls, work them on a lightly floured surface (I like to use my stove top).

Shape the dough as desired, if it starts to tear, form back into a ball and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes.

I like to pre bake the dough for about 5 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.

Enjoy your pizza!

Your basic sauce and cheese pizza 😀

White pizza with shaved, fresh garlic, cherry tomatoes and fresh broccoli. Mmmmmm!

Italian Seasoning

2 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoons dried parsely

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed rosemary

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine and keep in an airtight container.  Shake before using.

A quick quilted fabric box.

Free motion quilting is not a talent of mine.  I would much rather be hand quilting, where I feel I have much better control of my stitches.  I love my machine, but putting that darning foot on and dropping the feed dogs sends me into a bit of a panic!  Hand quilting isn’t always going to fit into my schedule so sometimes… machine quilting it is.  In such cases, before I get started I pull out a couple of old fat quarters and do some practice quilting.  I end up with all of these quilted squares hanging around; I want to toss them, but I can’t.   I just know there must be  something I can do with them!

The other night night, I was quietly nursing and rocking my youngest and I started to think of origami.  I love all of the things you can create from a simple square of paper, animals, stars, flowers… then I thought of my quilted squares.  I was folding and turning the squares in my head and almost immediately saw a box, a very simple box!


Today, I decided to try it out.

I started this just like any other practice quilting run, I found two fat quarters, sandwiched them with some batting and squared them up.  I chose 15″ because I had a batting scrap a little larger than that.


Next I pinned the 3 layers together, sketched out a quilting design and set to work quilting it on my machine.


…yeah, I need more practice! 🙂

Next you have to decide on how tall you want your box.   I decided to make a sqaure box with 5″ sides and a 5″ bottom.

Draw lines marking your sides, if you are going to have 5″ tall “walls” or sides of your box, measure and mark 5″ in from the outside. Do this on the fabric which will be the OUTSIDE of your box.


Take the sandwich to your ironing board and fold along this line and then press.  Repeat the process for all four sides.


Next, fold up two adjoining sides, at the corner match the draw lines, folding the excess fabric into a triangle.



Lay the resulting triangle along a wall of the interior of the box, matching the top edges.  Continue to do this with each corner always laying your triangle along a new wall.  When you finish each wall will have a half triangle and the thickness of each wall will be the same along the top.



Now it is time to sew up the sides, I like the look of a ladder stitch.  When you pull the thread tight it will disappear into the fabric, giving you a very clean edge.


If you prefer not to hand sew, you could use a wide zigzag


Continue, using your preferred method along each corner.  Next, flip the box inside out and sew down the triangles.  Again, I prefer to hand sew, but this could also be done on your machine.  Keep in mind if you use your machine for this step you will have a zigzag showing diagonally on the outside of your box.


Now all we have left to do is bind the top!  To have a 1″ wide binding cut your fabric into 7″ strips.  I do not press my binding in half before sewing because the fold is never exactly in the center.

Mark where a 1″ seam allowance falls on your machine.


Fold your binding in half, match the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the box and machine stitch the binding to the outside of your box.  It is best to start sewing about 1/3 of the way in from a corner, be sure to leave a 6″ or 7″ tail of binding before you start sewing.


I typically close my binding with a continuous binding method (this is a great tutorial for continuous binding)  however the box is so small, I found a square end to be best.

If you are unfamiliar with how to attach a binding, follow these basic steps:

After finishing off your binding, flip the box inside out and sew you binding down to the inside of the box.

Flip your box right side out and you are done!

Thai Inspired Warm Broccoli Salad, Peanut Allergy Friendly :)

First off, I apologize for the crappy cell phone pics; I took one picture with my real camera and the battery died.  Thankfully my husband is an Eagle Scout because I was a Brownie drop-out and am often hopelessly unprepared.

I have been craving Thai food forever, at least it feels like forever!  Two years ago my son, Wilson,  had an anaphylactic reaction after his first  peanut exposure, needless to say there have been no peanut products in our lives since.  Since Thai uses so much peanut, it also had been dropped from our menu.  Recently, the craving has been getting stronger.  This morning I went out into our garden and was greeted by an enormous head of broccoli, some beautiful peppers and tons of sweet cherry tomatoes.  Looking at those gorgeous veggies, I decided I was having Thai for lunch!

This morning’s haul!

I needed to make a a sauce as satisfying as that slightly spicy peanut sauce I love, but also safe for our household.  We recently found out that Wilson’s tree nut allergies are improving; at this point he is only allergic to cashews and pistachios – woohoo!  Our allergist also told us to start adding the other tree nuts into his diet to test the waters (rather terrifying thing to say to a Mom who saw her 18 months old have an anaphylactic reaction!).  I went in search of a nut butter we could use and found nearly all are made in facilities with peanuts or cashews, and then I found Barney Butter! Barney Butter is processed in a facility that only uses almonds, making it is safe for us!

To make the sauce, in the bowl of my stick blender/processor, I combined :

2 Tablespoons Almond Butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (it wasn’t very spicy, I’ll do more next time)
The juice of 1 lime (about 1.5 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil

Pulse that until nicely combined

The almond butter sauce

Next I cut up:

the large head of broccoli (about 8 cups)
2 peppers, thinly sliced (I had one red and one green from the garden)
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced

Heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large skillet – I love the smell of coconut oil – YUM!

add 4 cloves of garlic minced, saute for about 30 seconds before adding the veggies.

Saute the veggies until tender-crisp and then add

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Let the tomatoes heat through and get a little soft before transferring all of the veggies to a large bowl and tossing with the almond butter sauce.


Thai Inspired Warm Broccoli Salad for the peanut allergic!

The recipe makes about 3 servings at 317 calories, 23g of carbs, 25g of fat and 4g of protein, 3g of fiber and 202mg of sodium.  This is if you eat all of the sauce, I had a good amount of sauce at the bottom of my bowl.

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