Vanilla Allergen Free Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting Photos

I turn 28 today (on the 28th! that has always excited me for some reason) so E and I made these cupcakes out of the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link) by Cybele Pascal (pages 92-93).  My sister-in-law actually gave me this book for my birthday last year after I kept renewing it at the library.  We discovered all of E’s allergies in early January of last year so this book was a life saver.  Cybele Pascal has an awesome website, and interacts with fans on facebook and twitter.  She’s even answered a question I posted to her blog and done a recipe based on a challenge I submitted!  She’s just so kind and has done wonderful things for the food allergy community.  I have to go back and count how many of her recipes I have made and do a proper review post for her book because it is just that good.  Her chocolate cupcakes are divine but I haven’t had chocolate in months because I don’t eat it while nursing (darn traces of caffeine, they make me always double guess whether what I’ve eaten has caused R to be fussy).

I finally opened my decorating tips and bags I got ages ago and we are going to try decorating these, Eleanor can’t wait for them to cool so in the meantime, here are some in progress photos!  (I won’t be posting a recipe of course since it is not mine to share.)

Updated: I started to try to make swirls but my decorating skills need work and I stepped away and let E play awhile to find that she’d used the other decorating tips as decorations.  She also took a nibble out of one of them.  So cute!

Book Reviews: “Are You A. . .”

We recently checked out “Are You A Horse?” and “Are You A Grasshopper?” from our local library (by the way, online requests are what has allowed me to continue reading after having kids – no need to look around the shelves, you pick what you want and they let you know when it is available to pick up!).  We were trying to find books that would awaken E’s inner scientist.  The “Are You A. . .” backyard book series mostly is not available for request (except the Grasshopper book) because they’re all at the Springs Preserve‘s library.  The Horse book was found while looking for the Grasshopper book and ones like it.  Both are worth checking out at your library!

Are You A Horse? (amazon affiliate link) by Andy Rash

E loved this one from the very first read.  It requires some suspension of disbelief as a cowboy, upon receiving a saddle for his birthday, seeks a horse without knowing what one is.  He approaches different things like a cactus, a snake, or a lion, on his quest.  Each thing or animal he asks gives him another clue (like, “a horse is very fast”) to help him find a horse.  He almost despairs and then finally finds a horse.  Sounds simple, but there’s an adorable twist at the very final page.   We’ll be renewing this one.

Are You A Grasshopper? (amazon affiliate link) by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

This is written in a question and answer style format and directed at the reader so that it explains how a grasshopper is very different from a human.  The illustrations are nicely done and it has a serious tone but I think it will keep the interest of a child interested in insects.  E wasn’t as enthusiastic about this book but she listened all the way through and followed along well.  It might be one to revisit when she’s a little older but, having checked out some really dry children’s books in our search, this one is able to convey a lot of information without being too boring.

In Which I Have a Place to Post My “Life List”

I have had this saved in my drafts for ages, adding to it from time to time. A blog I read, Mighty Girl, features this concept though it is by no means proprietary. I like the idea of thinking of things I hope to do but the “Life List” framework tries to encourage actually doing them.

Here is what I have written thus far, some seem silly but I am resisting editing in order to seem different than I am.

“Life List”

See the fall leaves back east

See the cherry blossoms in DC

See the Supreme Court

Take my family to Alaska where I graduated high school

Visit Prince Edward Island

See Paris

Show the kids Bagby hot springs in OR

Sleep under the stars with my husband

Paint real art for our home

Make a quilt (working on it!)

Write annual birthday letters to the kids (already working on it)

See the pyramids

Wear a Diane von Furstenberg dress

Go to Hawaii

See Wicked live (done!)

Grow an orchard of fruit trees

Design a font

Put wainscoating somewhere in my home

Have a proper library

Wear red shoes

(post updated 5/20/13)

Vegetable and Bean Soup Recipe

(Shared on the 4/8/11 Allergy Friendly Friday page at Cybele Pascal’s blog, check it out for great ideas and recipes!)

Grandma is holding R as I type, let me see if I can get this into the computer (usually I use my iPod Touch but for heavy typing it is annoying to use). . .

Here is a link to the photos I posted yesterday, I picked my favorite “in progress” shot and placed it above, I really like the shower of water drops on the drained beans.  The final picture is the soup straight from the pot yesterday.  E was a good helper but she is sick so she wasn’t as content as usual to be cooking.  R needed attention as I was finishing prep but that is how it goes.  You could do a lot of chopping the night before if your kids are better at being patient then, just put the potatoes in water to soak in the fridge after chopping so they don’t get brown.  I’ve read that you should cook right after chopping (something about cell walls in veggies) but I am not sure the nutrient level goes down much, if at all.

So I like to use Bob’s Red Mill’s 13 Bean Soup Mix, I use Subscribe and save with free shipping to get it for $13.29 (you can always cancel the subscription right after or do a long schedule, I do 6 months, and when they’re about to re-ship they email you with a week of time so you can cancel/check for better prices), then divide the bag in half by weight so each portion of beans for 4 quarts of soup is $1.67.  Here’s an amazon affiliate link (disclosure: I get some percentage of the sale with that link).

My friend asked for this one after her daughter enjoyed it.  It makes me so happy when people enjoy what I make!  This is a variation on a soup my mom made for us as kids so I dedicate my first recipe post to her.  She also taught me to cook especially after I had my first baby.  Thank you muttie!

With that, on with the recipe!


5 quart pot

Colander (Sieve)

Large Bowl

Knife, Peeler, Cutting Board


14.5 Ounces of Dried Beans (my mix has Navy, Black, Red, Pinto, Limas, Large Limas, Garbanzo, Great Northern, Kidney Beans, Black-eyed, Yellow Split, Green Split Peas, and Lentils.)

1/2 medium onion, diced

7 ounces celery (about 3 stalks), chopped

7 ounces peeled and chopped carrots (about 6 or 7)

2 pounds russet potatoes, chopped in 2 inch chunks (you can use other kinds but the soup might not get as thick)

6 ounce can of tomato paste

3 tablespoons dried parsley (I was out of fresh)

4 teaspoons granulated garlic (out of fresh, I usually use 4 cloves, minced)

1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil

2 teaspoons turmeric (no worries if you don’t have this, I love turmeric though!)

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or regular is fine, if you like a more assertive smoky flavour, use more)

1 tablespoon salt (plus to taste)

1 tablespoon pepper

4 tablespoons olive or canola oil

4 cups vegetable broth

3 cups water


The night before, soak your beans in a big bowl covered with two inches or so of water.  The next day, put your pot on the stove and heat it on medium (I have an electric stove so I use the middle setting, it should be high enough to get your oil shimmering).  Chop your onions, add your oil to the pan and add onions once the oil shimmers when you tilt the pan.

While the onions fry (stirring occasionally), chop your celery, carrots, and potatoes.  You can also mince your garlic now.  After the onions are softening, add garlic and your spices (in the pictures I added the salt and pepper later with the potatoes but you can do what you like).  Stir to mix and let everything fry for a minute.

Now add your carrots and celery, mix and fry another minute or two.  I had to read Green Eggs and Ham to E at this point (she was on the counter watching) so I ended up cooking too long and needed to deglaze the pan.  This is where you pour a splash or water (I use the water in my tea kettle) into the pan and stir to get the nice fried bits off the bottom.  If you have a non-stick pot you won’t have to do this.

Add your potatoes and stir.  Drain and rinse your beans.  Add the whole can of tomato paste and stir.  Now add your beans, then 4 cups of broth (the whole box if you buy it in quarts, I had E help open it, it is a nice way to give a child ownership of a meal to let them help as much as they can).

I usually don’t measure the water I add, I fill the rest of the pot with water until it hits the rivets.  This time it was 3 cups.  If you add more veggies or have less for some reason, you’d end up adding differing amount of water.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.  I reduced it to the “warm” setting (my settings are warm, low, 3, 4, and 5) and it took 2-3 hours at this setting for the beans to be cooked.  If you cook too long it is still really tasty but the beans come apart.  This makes me think it would be a great crock pot recipe but I haven’t tried that yet.

Serve with a dash of lemon juice and salt (my favorite style) or with tabasco sauce (my husband likes this, though it has vinegar of a type E can’t have we keep it in the house because she doesn’t eat it, it is one of the few “unsafe” things we keep).

This served 3 adults, 1 toddler, and 1 baby (he ate a mashed potato from the pot) for dinner (with some allergy free biscuits made by my mother in law, they are so good!) and provided a container for my husband’s lunch tomorrow.  It will also be lunch for the rest of us today.

As always, soup is better the second and third day.

In Which the Blog Name is Still a Work in Progress

My Husband kindly indicated that my spelling out of how E says “oh my goodness” may be a little off.  Also, it may not make sense as a name in general.  So I may change it.  Think, think, think. . .

In other news, this cinnamon cereal recipe (using millet and garbanzo flour, both safe and on hand for me) is in the oven as I type.  Full review to follow, it would be great to have another cereal to eat, fingers crossed!

In Which I Try Blogging Again

I enjoy so many blogs that when I’ve written down recipes for friends I’ve thought “maybe I should share these online.” Kind of my way of giving back.

I’m a mom of two, a 2 1/2 year old daughter (E) and a 6 month old son (R). Right now I stay at home but I’m a licensed attorney. E has many food allergies so we all adjusted to her diet in addition to already being vegetarian. Much of what we eat would help someone on an elimination diet.

E says “oh mah deehness!” to mean “oh my goodness!” and it was available as a name. I figured it allows me to write a hodge podge of stuff at any rate.

I took some pictures of a soup this morning that I wanted to share with a friend so I think I will do a post with pictures and then do the recipe in another post to allow for easy printing.