Sunday, February 26, 2012

Testing 1-2-3 (Early Days cont'd)

It's been a loooong weekend. And I mean long like "is it Monday yet?!" and not long like "woo Labor Day!" The Magician continues to be really snuffly at night (seems to start a few hours after he goes to bed-- probably all that lying flat on his back. he's fine in the day!) which means I have not been sleeping well either. Amazing how fast that catches up with you.

Um, excitement alert: I am one of the testers for a book Isa is working on! Like, THE Isa. As you know if you have been reading this blog regularly, I love Isa's existing cookbooks an awful awful lot, so I'm all moon beams and rainbows about this. I've been so excited about it that I kinda slacked on making the Vegan Diner food I had planned for this week. All I've made since last post is this:

Big Fat Greek Scramble

My Big Fat Greek Scramble. We had this for breakfast this morning. The Emperor was really excited about the kalamatas and picked those out and ate them, then ate his tofu, then even ate a tiny, tiny bit of spinach.

And now the test recipes I've done so far!

Bestest Pesto

Bestest Pesto on brown rice spirals.

Sunflower Mac

Sunflower Mac with sauteed kale.

Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup.

There's so much more yumminess to come on that front.

Well, that's all I've got for now except daily pictures. Here's the Emperor looking like he's 2 going on 15:

In someone else's driveway

And the Magician looking very magical:

The Magician

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A birthday feast! (Early Days cont'd)

Hey internet! Today is my birthday. This year I turned the big 2-8. What's funny is I've been telling people I'm 28 for some time now... I think I started rounding up before my half-birthday even. So I keep starting to say I'm 29. Not a birthday most people race for, ha.

Things started out rough today. The Magician had a stuffy nose overnight (he's fine today) and between the noise of his snuffling and my worry about him, I was up most of the night with him. And then the Emperor woke up at 5 a.m. and despite Josh's best efforts to keep him out of my hair, my very, very tired hair, he kept coming into the bedroom and waking me up every time I'd fall back asleep. Not the best way to begin a birthday! My mood was not great when I rolled out of bed and this coulda turned into a big old sulk-a-thon.

But I made myself a pot of happy birthday chai (hanks Amey!), turned my frown upside down, and ended up having an awesome day. Culminating in this:

Dinner 2/23/12

My birthday feast! I had not planned on making a very ambitious birthday dinner... this was going to be sometime this weekend when I had Josh on hand to kid wrangle or else cook for me. But the stars aligned and the Magician ended up sleeping for the entire 2.5 hours it took me to put this (and dessert) together. AMAZING.

This is the Cheezy Mac and BBQ Ribz from American Diner with a side of roasted brussels sprouts, because nothing (and I mean nothing) says happy birthday like happy birthday brussels sprouts. All super good. Next time I make these Ribz I really need to make like... a triple batch. They are so. Freaking. Good. Everyone enjoyed this meal.

He thought these weren't too shabby either:

Happy birthday cupcakes

Cupcakes! They're sorta-carrot cake. I don't know. I started with a base recipe for carrot cake but I didn't have half the stuff in it, so I just subbed what I had on hand... coconut shreds for walnuts, diced apple for raisins, soy milk for yogurt, brown sugar for white sugar, cardamom for cinnamon (I had cinnamon but you know how I love throwing cardamom in things). Guess what? They are BANGIN'. And since they are made with whole wheat flour, tomorrow morning I'm going to pretend they're muffins and the Emperor and I are each going to eat one for breakfast.

Getting to have the Emperor in my life is pretty much one of the best presents I could get, and I get it every day (sometimes at 5 a.m.). Here he is giving me the gift of actually eating dinner without complaining:

Grey loves ribz

And here's the Magician giving me the gift of just being pretty freakin' cute:

At the park.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dip'n'stuff (Early Days cont'd)

Phew-y, am I tired. I am coming to think that days that I send the Emperor to preschool (like today) actually end up being somehow more work than days where he stays home. Today I spent about 5 hours with the Magician strapped to my chest, and about 3 of those hours I was actively walking... and I am feeling it.

Wednesday is farmer's market day, aka grocery shopping day, and I like to try to plan something easy for dinner on Wednesdays because a) I'm often out until late-ish and b) groceries take a lot of energy. Back when the Emperor was littler, Wednesdays were usually hummus night. Because what is easier than making hummus and eating it with some cut up veg and crackers or maybe even some bread? Nothing! (Unless you buy hummus premade, but that's crazy!)

But I'm branching out a little right now, trying other dips. Cheating on hummus, if you will. Tonight we had straight up ranch dip from the recipe in Vegan Diner:

Dinner 2/22/12

Definitely not an every day treat (a double batch, pictured here, is an entire container of Tofutti sour cream) but very tasty. I should have put a little dill in it. We all liked this, even the Emperor. He ate a small serving of whole wheat crackers with dip, and then when he saw the crackers were all gone, he powered through a ton of cucumber slices. He tried one bite each of carrot and celery. We have to consider this a success, people.

Okay, I'm going to go collapse in a heap now. I leave you with a photo of the Magician and myself, taken earlier today:

Binkin' at the park

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More eating, drinking, and being vegan (Early Days cont'd)

Ah! February is drawing to a close already. Time flies. I think that in March, I'm going to make daily posting my "theme"... I miss finding a little time to write here every day.

As the title of this post implies, I have continued to cook out of Eat Drink & Be Vegan this week. (Have I mentioned this before? I try to do all the food shopping on Wednesdays-- our farmer's market day-- so my food weeks go Wednesday-Wednesday.) Tonight's the last dinner I have planned out of the book. Here's what I've made since last post:

Dinner 2/16/12

Palak Soyabina Panira served with quinoa - Dreena's take on palak paneer. I made it with mixed greens (a couple of types of kale and a bit of spinach) rather than all spinach. I made this once before when the Emperor was a baby and (according to my notes) really liked it. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed it again, though the sheer quantity of powdered spices gives the end product a little grittiness.

The Emperor ate a bunch of the tofu and some of the quinoa. No surprise there.

Dinner 2/17/12

One Wild Chick! Soup - or as we've been calling it, Chickpea Soup with Rice. You see, the Emperor really loves the book Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak... but I always edit the key phrase in the book to Chickpea Soup with Rice. (Sorry, literary purists. I am wigged out by reading my kid a book about how awesome it is to eat chickens year round.) So I wondered what would happen if I told him that's what this dish was... success! He ate a ton of it and even told me how much he liked it.

(The next morning, he brought up the conversation of dinner, though, and told me the soup was "not good." Whatever. I saw you eat it!)

The rest of us liked this soup too. J and I ate the leftovers for lunch on Sunday and as with most soups, it only improved with time.

Dinner 2/20/12

Corn and Black Bean Lasagna with Avocado - this is actually composed in layers but my picture of the slice that fell apart turned out nicer, so that's what I'm posting. This is interesting in that the avocado is the central layer-- so it gets baked along with everything else. Pretty tasty, but the short cooking time (~30 mins) means that the onions never really get soft, and the texture of the semi-crunchy onions freaked me out.

The Emperor was distressed by this because it featured beans, which are apparently his deadliest foes. He picked out some avocado and ate some tortilla though, and he ate about six little lime wedges so um, at least he's getting his vitamin C.

Overall, three more nice dishes! ED&BV continues to satisfy.

And speaking of things that are nice: The Magician turned one month old yesterday! Woo! Here he is looking quite exhausted after all his hard baby work:


And the Emperor looking worn out after all of *his* hard big kid work:

Rest in the nest

And here's me looking exhausted... haha, nevermind, you don't want to see that!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Never cater to toddlers... (Early Days cont'd)

Okay, if you have been reading along and not just looking at the cute baby pictures, you will know that the Emperor has been a bit... persnickety about food for some time now. Weirdest thing-- he used to be EXTREMELY laid back about food and would eat anything we put in front of him. Then he started preschool in August and all of a sudden, he wouldn't eat much of anything at dinnertime anymore. (He eats anything they give him at school, including foods he won't touch at home, like carrot sticks.) He even rejects most foods that all kids like. Seriously, 95% of the time he won't eat potatoes.

I have to tell you that after half a year of this, it's wearing a bit thin. I'd be delighted to never hear the phrase "this is NOT yummy" (or more recently, "this is not good, mom") about something he hasn't even tried ever again. Though I know it's not personal, some days I have a hard time remembering that. Like when I made a special meal for him yesterday for Valentine's:

Dinner 2/14/12

Black bean burgers, baked potato wedges, steamed cauliflower and broccoli. ALL foods he has raved about in the past. And broccoli! The one food he will almost ALWAYS eat.

Guess what he ate?

One potato wedge. That's it.

He absolutely would not try the burgers, even though I made them into little hearts:

Burger hearts

He made me cut his into pieces. I'm like dude, you're cutting MY heart into pieces. Sigh.

Tonight I tried again with this meal:

Dinner 2/15/12

Warm Cheezy White Bean Dip from Eat Drink & Be Vegan (more on that in a sec), cut up carrots, celery, and cucumbers, and baguette from the farmer's market.

Now, this meal, I expected him to eat bread and maybe a little dip. Maybe. As long as no one said the word "bean" out loud. Wasn't getting my hopes up. But you know what? He actually ate bread, several spoonfuls of dip (with a spoon; he refused to dip into it today), and 75% of the cucumber slices. Really, I was fighting him for the last slices of cucumber. Overall, the meal was an unexpected success and I'll have to remember it for next time I foolishly convince myself to make a dinner just to appeal to him...

Oh yeah. Since I am home right now and want/need to eat actual food, I am doing meal planning again. This week I'm cooking stuff out of Eat Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. ED&BV is a weird book for me. It's not flashy, and when I first bought it and paged through it I was like ennnnh nothing here is jumping out at me. But, and this is a big and important but: I have loved almost everything I've ever cooked out of it (sorry, orange black bean hummus, you weirded me out!) and I have cooked a TON out of it over the years. I think it's in my top 5 cookbooks ever. Some day I'm going to buy more of Dreena's books because I bet I'll love them too.

Think that's about it for today, except, of course, for pictures. Here's one of the Emperor from the park today:

He is coming for you

And the Magician after his first real (as in, actually submerged in water) bath yesterday:

Clean baby

Monday, February 13, 2012

Udon stir fry with peanut sauce (Early Days cont'd)

We're halfway through February already! Can you believe it? I keep writing dates starting with 1 and then realizing that we're way past that now... Next month I'll try to have a more cohesive theme etc, but hey, this month you get what you get. (Who am I kidding? This is a bit of a potluck blog to start with... you ALWAYS get what you get.)

Tonight was supposed to be my first night of the class I'm taking (a grownup programming class! 3 hours a week of doing something useful and not at all baby related with my brain while Josh watches the children! WOO!). Actually, it should've been the second night, but I was excused from the first lecture, so this would've been the first I'd have gotten to. But it turns out the instructor got sick at the last minute, so tonight's class was cancelled. Boo. I've been looking forward to it and feeling kinda excited as I actually managed to get all the work (including all the reading! yes!) done on time. Probably a first and a last. Oh well.

But, since I didn't have to go to class, I got to come home and make dinner instead. Really, I was excited about this. Here is what I made:

Dinner 2/13/12

Dry-fried tofu, sauteed kale and carrots, fresh udon, and peanut sauce. Yum. I wasn't 100% happy with how the peanut sauce turned out... I used jarred galangal rather than grating some fresh ginger in and I definitely tasted the difference. (You know what's actually really good in peanut sauce though? Minced pickled ginger. Try it some time!) Oh well, still quite tasty and satisfying. I ate two huge bowls, which kinda balances out the fact that all I ate the rest of the day was a Clif bar and a tofurky sandwich.

This is technically not a daily Emperor/Magician because it's a few days old but... it's what I've got! Despite spending the entire day with him, I didn't manage to catch a picture of the Emperor today. Isn't that weird? Guess we were too busy with adventures. Anyway, I think this one is cute:

You don't say!


Friday, February 10, 2012

An easy kabocha puree (Early Days cont'd)

Hey there! Look, I am posting a recipe! There is something I haven't done in a while.

You can probably imagine that with two small people on my hands, I have been attracted to dishes that don't take very long or involve much active prep time. This is something I threw together really quickly, but I'm delighted with how it turned out so I'm recording it for future use.

While at the farmer's market last week, one of my friends recommended I try out a variety of kabocha squash that I hadn't had before. The sad thing is that it's been less than two weeks and I've already forgotten the name of the squash... maybe something with "candy" or "sweet" in the name... sort of a pasty green exterior. (Not one of those super dark green kabochas.) I had thought about roasting it and eating slices of it, but no one in the house really likes squash that much except me so instead I threw this soup together.

So! here it is:

Dinner 2/10/12

Sweet roasted kabocha-beer puree
Serves 4-6 as an entree

1 medium sweet kabocha squash (3-4 lbs including rind)
olive oil for spraying
2 tsps olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp earth balance
~1 c unsweetened soy milk
2/3rds bottle of beer - I used something amber-y, I think a darker beer might have been nice too
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F to roast squash.
2. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds & guts. Spray halves lightly with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet.
3. Bake squash for 45 minutes or til tender.
4. When squash has 10 minutes left, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high.
5. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook until onions start to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
6. Allow squash to cool just enough to scoop it out of its peel. As soon as it's cool enough, scoop the flesh out into a large sauce pot.
7. Add earth balance to squash flesh and stir to combine. Add a bit of soy milk if too thick to stir.
8. Place onions in food processor with about 1c of the squash flesh. Puree, then return to pan.
9. Add the rest of the soy milk and the beer, and mix well to combine.
10. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed.

That's all! Like 15 minutes of active work for a very delicious soup that's pretty easy on the eyes. I liked it a lot. The Emperor ate one bite of it and was not thrilled with it. Josh seemed to like it okay.

We ate it with some garlic toast, but it'd also be nice with your choice of crackers (gluten-y or gluten-free) and/or maybe a salad on the side...

Bonus meal: here's yesterday's dinner:

Dinner 2/9/12

Hot sauce glazed tempeh (the Veganomicon recipe with a couple of tweaks... broth instead of wine and a bit of ketchup added), baked sweet potato fries, and sauteed greens. The Emperor consented to eat one triangle of tempeh and 2.5 sweet potato fries.

We had a great day today-- our first day where I was home with the Emperor & the Magician and no other adult for backup-- so I don't know why the best picture I got of the Emperor makes him look so sullen. But here you are anyway:

Library loiterer

And here's the Magician, who is 3 weeks old (!!) today:

Sleep smiles

He celebrated by finally getting a belly button. Woo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A week of dinners (Early Days cont'd)

Hello internet! I'm still live and well (and cooking!), just haven't had the chance to blog over the past week. It's amazing how much work getting one's laptop out and plugged in and whatnot sometimes seems... especially when one needs to save one's energy for important things like midnight diaper changes and staring at babies while they sleep and stuff, heh.

But I have been faithfully recording my dinner creations as they roll in, in hopes of eventually sharing them with you. Here's what I've made over the past week:

Dinner 2/1/12

Stirfry of mixed greens, tofu, and carrot served over buckwheat soba. Decidedly a let's throw stuff together meal, but it worked... the Emperor was mad as hell that there was so much "stuff" touching his tofu but he lived.

Dinner 2/2/12

Isa's baked oven fries (I seasoned mine with garam masala as my mother-in-law has trouble with hot spices so curry was out), patties made out of Gimme Lean, and yes, more broccoli.

Dinner 2/3/12

My favorite lazy meal... single serve soup. 1/4c whole wheat couscous, a tsp of broth powder, tbsp or so of miso paste, some protein (TJ's chickenless strips here), and greens to fill the rest of the cup, then pour in boiling water and cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Bliss.

Dinner 2/4/12

An awful picture of sauteed collards, homemade cranberry sage sausages, and whole wheat couscous.

Dinner 2/6/12

Smoky collards and black beans, loosely based on the collards in Papa Tofu. We had toast with it too.

It was great having my mother-in-law visit-- aside from the fact that she's wonderful company, she is also a super easy houseguest and was happy to eat my weirdo vegan food. She had collards twice in a week and didn't complain, which is more than I can say for the other people in my house. (Which is why I save mass collard consumption for while they're not here.)

Still waiting for Josh to upload his Disney pictures, but here's one he sent me of the Emperor that I liked... he looks so confused:

He looks puzzled

And one of the Magician* and the other thing I spent the past few days with:

Snuggling up with a good book

*he has an internet nickname at last!