Kitchen Failures (or The Curious Case of the Disintegrating Churros)

The other day I had an idea. It was a brilliant idea. An idea I couldn’t get out of my head, one that I had to try as soon as possible. Someone in our EOE support group shared a picture of donuts she had made using nothing but a gluten-free cake mix, a bottle of Sprite, and some Enjoy Life chocolate chips (which you already know I am a big fan of). Mix the ingredients together, pop them in a donut maker, and bish bash bosh, you’ve got safe donuts. I don’t have a donut maker, but this was my thought: what if I put the batter into a piping bag, squirt it into some hot oil, and have some safe churros (or at least a churro-like product)? This would have to be put to the test. So this morning, I got to work.

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I know that’s not gluten-free mix, but gluten isn’t a problem for us, and the all GF mixes I could find at the store had milk and soy, which ARE problems for us!

I gathered the ingredients (which didn’t take long) and heated up the oil. I know churros for breakfast is a bit of a stretch, but we eat donuts for breakfast, so is it really that much different? I’m going to go with no.

Churro batter is a little thicker than cake batter, so I only used about half of the 20 oz bottle. It foamed up quite a bit (you know, because, it’s a soda….). I stirred it up, and it made a relatively thick, sticky batter. Emily helped me load it up into a zip-top bag (and felt the need to include herself in a picture). We snipped the corner off the bag, and piped a bit into the hot oil, with some cinnamon and sugar at the ready for rolling.

And then, the unexpected happened. What was supposed to become a churro instead became a mess. It completely disintegrated right before my eyes. Instead of a tasty, fried tube of yummy goodness, it turned into this:

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Uh……………………………… I… um…….. I mean….. well……… whatever that is, it’s not churros.

*Sigh*

I have said before that I love to experiment in the kitchen, and it’s not uncommon for my experiment to not go they way I planned. But this was a whole new level of failure. I’ve never seen an experiment fall apart in such dramatic fashion. It was as if I had put the batter into hot acid rather than hot oil. I felt like I was recreating a scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and I was the bad guy.

It turns out that the eggs in a traditional churro recipe are extremely important. They hold the batter together during the trauma of the deep fryer. I haven’t given up on finding a Reese-safe churro recipe, but this “simple fake” of a recipe is NOT it.

Not one to completely trash something because it doesn’t turn out right, I figured I’d try to salvage it. So I preheated my oven to 375 and piped the rest of the batter onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. I spooned the cinnamon and sugar over batter and baked it for 12 minutes.

What came out of the oven were like cinnamon madeleines, if, you know, you’ve never actually had madeleines. Not bad at all. In fact our kids polished off almost the whole batch before bedtime.

It turns out that a failure can still turn out pretty sweet.

No eggs? No problem!

Before we knew that Reese had EOE, we found out that he had an allergy to eggs.  Unlike his EOE reaction, eggs cause a skin reaction (and once his lips swelled up like a poorly done Kylie Jenner challenge).  So we have been on a quest to find effective replacements for eggs.

The problem is that eggs have so many different functions in recipes.  They can bind, add moisture, improve color, serve as leavening or structure… the challenge is knowing how what the eggs do in your recipe so you can effectively replace them.  THAT particular challenge is something I’m still learning how to deal with.  I have a tried a few things, but I’m always afraid that I’ll try something and it will turn to trash and I will have wasted all that time (and more importantly, all those ingredients!)

But that’s why I’m here: to explore, to learn, and to share.  So without much further ado, here are some things that have proven to be effective egg replacers, all safe for my EOE/allergy kiddo. Continue reading

Fire-roasted Salsa

The ultimate party snack, leveled up.

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I love Mexican food. Like a lot. Authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex, shoot I even love stuff like Taco Bell and Taco John’s. And one of the best parts of going to any Mexican restaurant is the free-flowing chips and salsa. Hot or mild, red or green, I love it. My wife likes it, too, but can’t handle too much spice, so I usually end up getting to eat the majority of the salsa at the table. Totally fine with me. Plus, salsa is SUPER healthy. It’s an excellent way to deliver all the goodness of veggies without feeling like you’re just eating a load of veggies.

But why do I bother making my own? Jarred salsa, even the expensive, good quality stuff, isn’t that expensive, and it’s rare to find one that is bad.  To be honest, I don’t usually bother making my own. But why do I go back and watch all the Marvel Studios movies at least once a year? Because sometimes you just want to do something. Continue reading

My Inspiration

Why am I doing this?  Why am I writing this blog?  I mean, here’s the deal:  I tend to be a “dream big with no plan” kind of person.  I think of things that would be cool and then never follow through.  I once decided I should try to organize a Skype conversation with the former president of Costa Rica.  Do you want to guess whether or not that actually happened?

So why this blog?  Let me introduce you to Reese.16640925_10212294226612059_4590186972025651673_n

Reese is my son.  At the time of this writing, he is two years old.  He is the one who introduced us to the twisted world of eosinophilic esophagitis. Continue reading

Smoke-Roasted Potatoes

Baked potatoes are boring, you say? Well, I say you must be doing it wrong.

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Ok, so the picture is a little blurry. But they taste so good…….

First of all, let me give credit where credit is due. Steve Raichlen is some sort of genius. Mr. Raichlen is a guru of all things live-fire cooking: grill, barbecue, pit/spit roasting… you name it, and he has a book/show/class about it. He has written several books about live-fire cooking and is a big reason I love cooking over live-fire whenever I get the chance. This recipe is from his book How to Grill, modified to fit my family.

I was never really one to eat baked potatoes as a meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good baked potato. It just never seems enough. I need something more when I eat. Not necessarily portion-wise, but more substantial than just a hunk of potato. But when I learned to introduce the sublime flavor and aroma of wood smoke, I saw that the humble potato can be elevated to a whole new level.

Continue reading

Enjoy Life!

Have you ever just been sitting around and suddenly you think, “I need some chocolate…”?  No?  Just me?   Hm….. weird.

Anyway, I grew up in a house with chocolate.  I don’t mean sometimes we had S’mores, or that we have ice cream and with Hershey’s syrup in the summer times.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, we did.  But I mean we always had a tub of chocolate chip in the pantry.  At. All. Times.  The primary use of those had nothing to do with cookies.  They were there so we could eat them.  I would melt them down and spread it on graham crackers.  I would dip up  a spoonful of peanut butter and stud it with chocolate morsels.  But more than anything, we would just grab a handful and eat them in pure, unadulterated chocolatey goodness.

Fast forward to now.  Reese, our little EOE dude, can’t have dairy.  And therefore, can’t have most chocolate.  He can’t have peanuts, so he can’t have peanut butter.  Those two things mean he can’t have my favorite candy of all time: Reese’s peanut butter cups.  *tears* Continue reading

Lennox and Reese’s SunButter Cups

My son Reese can’t have peanut butter (or dairy, or eggs, or soy, or nuts, or……). But he can have these!Reese's Sun Butter Cups (1)

Without question, my favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In fact, any peanut butter based candy is going to top my list. Unfortunately, two of my kids are allergic to peanuts, so I have to finish my candy before I get home don’t get to have them very often. I mean, it’s just not right for a parent to not share their candy with their kids, right?

Continue reading

Bread-in-a-bag

Bread.  Seriously.  I love bread.  It would seem pretty simple, right?  Then you find out your kid has food restrictions.  We have pretty much become experts on reading labels, and it’s amazing what you find on the labels of bread packages.  Soon after lamenting this out loud to everyone that would listen (and a few who wouldn’t), I got a message from my mom.  That message had a link saying “Is this safe for Reese?”  What followed was nothing short of amazing.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you….

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Many thanks to Your Homebased Mom for sharing this recipe!

This is so good, and SO EASY!  And, since Reese can have wheat, this is a great recipe for us
to have in our back pockets.  Our girls have a lot of fun helping because they like to get their hands in and squish the bread dough.  IMG_1200

Now this is the kind of ingredient list I like to see!  Flour, sugar, water, oil, salt, yeast… and that’s pretty much it.  (Exact measurements are included below.) Continue reading

Glazed Donuts

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It’s Saturday morning, the time when the thoughts of young children turn to breakfast.  We have an amazing donut shop called Jack’s right down the street. Few things are better than going in and getting a box of fresh donuts.  And the fact that it is only a few doors down from the local comic shop is even better.

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Eating donuts on Free Comic Book Day!

The only problem is that they don’t have anything Reese can eat. His EOE/food restrictions limit him so that all he can have at the donut shop is… coffee.  And he’s 2. He’s not drinking coffee.

ENTER THE HOMEMADE DONUT: Continue reading

Fruit and other things

When it comes to breakfast, I’m a “savory person.”  I’m not real big on pancakes (crazy,  I know).  They’re good and all, about 95% of the time, I’ll choose biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, and bacon.  Our little EOE dude though can’t have most biscuits (dairy and sometimes egg), can’t have sausage gravy (dairy), and can’t have eggs (because…. well, eggs).  So that meal is typically out (although I do have a safe biscuits and gravy recipe… coming soon!), and I find myself wondering what to give him for breakfast.  This morning, he asked for this:

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Wow… how did I forget about fruit?  Totally safe for him and he loved it.  Watermelon, galia melon, and grapes.  So simple.  Sometimes, I’m pretty sure my children are smarter than I am.  Even if you don’t have major food restrictions, this is a downright tasty breakfast.


At the suggestion of a good friend and fellow blogger (The Indy Burger Guy – you should definitely check him out), I am trying to find a consistent rhythm with this blog.  As of right now, I’m thinking I will try to post twice a week: one recipe post and one post like this, in which I share info, talk about product, etc.  The next recipe post will coming on Saturday (smoke-roasted potatoes – you won’t want to miss it!)

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A preview of what is to come!