It has been over six years since I was “forced” to make meals that are free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, tree nuts, peanuts and sesame due to my children’s multiple food allergies. That’s numerous breakfasts, dinner, packed school lunches, snacks, desserts.
In the process of feeding my kids, I have accumulated several notebooks filled with allergy friendly recipes. Yes, I have written almost all the good ones so that I can recreate them and eventually, the kiddos can make their favorites too.
“So, where do you get inspiration for these recipes?”
While Pinterest is the go to of almost all the moms I know, I have to say I’m an old school researcher. I rely mostly recreating dishes I had from restaurants. (I have no food restrictions.)
One of the restaurants I frequently go to for recipe inspiration is Applebee’s. Before the food allergies, my kids really liked the flavor combinations of the dishes they offer. Once in a while too, we still go to our local one in Piscataway. While they do not have a wide selection of top 8 allergen free dishes, they try their best to provide something for Child#2 and Child#3.
Earlier this month, my husband and I visited our favorite Applebee’s to try their new selection of pasta dishes which they called Neighborhood Pastas. Full disclosure, the items we had do contain gluten, dairy and soy.
For appetizer, we had our well loved Double Crunch Bone-in Wings. Crispy on the outside and soft in the inside, these wings are one of the bests we’ve had. There were 3 sauces to choose from – Classic Buffalo Hot Sauce, Honey BBQ sauce and Sweet Asian Chile sauce. Of course, we chose the Classic Buffalo!
My main course was the Creamy Penne Pasta with Sliced Prime Rib. Rich, creamy and hearty, this is true comfort food. Loaded with thinly sliced steak, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes, a portion was good enough for two meals! This is a perfect example of a simple dish done right.
For my husband, he had Cajun Pasta with Blackened Shrimp. This dish is not your typical pasta. Creamy Cajun sauce, roasted poblano peppers, red bell peppers and sauteed mushrooms give this dish an extra ordinary taste and kick. If you hot and spicy, this is definitely a must try.
If those don’t entice you yet, there are pasta dishes in the menu namely Chef Bulgarelli’s Stuffed Rigatoni and Tomato Meat Sauce, Classic Broccoli and Chicken Alfredo, Cajun Pasta with Blackened Chicken, Classic Blackened Shrimp Alfredo, Three Cheese Chicken Penne, Classic Chicken Parmesan, Four Cheese Mac and Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders and Spinach Artichoke Chicken Penne.
Each dish comes with piece of garlic bread which both my husband and I agreed was exceptionally delicious. So delicious that we decided to order an additional appetizer – Breadsticks with Alfredo Sauce. Fresh hot off the oven, the bread is nice and crunchy on the outside. Soft and chewy on the inside. It was brushed with garlic parsley butter. I would come back just for these garlic bread.
If only I can make a gluten free version! Sounds like a challenge.
While both of us packed half of our pasta dishes (It was for next day’s lunch.) because we are almost stuffed, we can’t help but order a dessert.
New on the dessert menu was the Southern Apple Fritter which the manager encouraged us try. The fritter was light, crisp and perfectly fried. It was topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with warm caramel. To complete the plate, these were slices of warm cinnamon apples. It was the best of Autumn in a plate. To those who are wondering, this dessert was also tree nut and peanut free.
This dinner date was a big success. Not only did my husband and I had our quiet time without the kids, I also was inspired to recreate these new dishes and make them allergy friendly.
Want to be inspired to?
Our friends from Applebee’s generously agreed to sponsor A Dinner for Two Giveaway just for you my TFM friends. The prize will include an appetizer, 2 main dishes and a dessert. Take note, this is only open to Applebee’s restaurants in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and New York.
Hurry, do the steps below to get free entries. This giveaway will end on Oct. 29, 2018 11:59 pm EST.
(Note: I got a complimentary meal from Applebee’s. See my full disclosure here.)