Food Adventures

Over the weekend we took a little family trip to Vancouver, Washington because Brian had some work to do down there. This was a pretty relaxed trip. We didn’t really make any plans for what we were going to do just kind of be together and do whatever comes up. This was also a rare trip for me because I’m usually in charge of packing most everything we will eat while we are gone. It takes me a week to get all my cooking in for a camping trip. Last year we traveled to Las Vegas with a checked bag filled with snacks and other food and stayed in a hotel with a kitchen so I could cook for us. Cooking for my family is basically my full-time job.

The hotel we stayed at this weekend did not have a kitchen in it but they did have some really great perks. If you get a chance I can highly recommend staying at Oxford Suites. They had a pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room and fitness center. Additionally, they offered each guest two complimentary drink tickets for each night of stay (seriously, free wine or beer!). During this evening reception there was also a free salad and soup bar. We planned on going out to dinner but definitely hit up the salad bar to get some veggies in before dinner. Also, they have free hot breakfast! Not just bagels and cream cheese or a bowl of cereal. We had scrambled eggs, kielbasa sausage, potatoes, and cottage cheese. There was the standard bagels, donuts, and cereal also. We loved the hotel and wished we could have stayed another night (more free wine!). They were so friendly, too, and offered my girls a coupon for a free movie and popcorn from the convenience store in the lobby. Funny side note the girls had never seen microwave popcorn before so it was an adventure watching that pop in the microwave.

On Saturday on our way down to Vancouver we stopped at a little Mexican restaurant in Centralia. I had read about the place in a magazine as one of the best authentic Mexican food places in Washington so I had some high expectations. La Tarasca is not right off the freeway and is pretty small. We never would have found it if we hadn’t been searching. This place lived up to the hype! The descriptions I had read of the place was that it was like eating at someone’s house in Mexico and I completely agree. Brian and I split carnitas (it was lunch and we wanted to save room for dinner). They were so good and tender and juicy. The homemade corn tortillas were awesome! The girls got standard kid Mexican food (a burrito and tostada). I was so busy loving my food I didn’t even taste theirs. Oops! I tried to snap a pic but it didn’t turn out.  The menu was small but as soon as we left I was dreaming about coming back and trying a different meal.

After our drinks (free booze!) and salad  at the hotel on Saturday night we headed to the docks on Hayden Island (on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington) for dinner. We had found Island Cafe on the internet and it seemed like a neat place. It was! The cafe was out on the docks. We got to walk by all the boats and sit out on the water for dinner. I wish my food had been better so I could be really excited about the place. I had an Ahi tuna and avocado salad which sounds amazing but was just alright. Brian had an Ahi tuna burger which again was just alright (aside from the wasabi mayo which was so yummy!). My little carb lover Lexi had french fries and mini corn dogs and tried to insist that she was going to eat a whole basket full of fries (um, no way). Isabelle did not want to order off the kids menu (and I don’t blame her, you read what Lexi ate) so she ordered a veggie wrap with curry macaroni salad. Very adventurous of her and she really enjoyed it. She may have had the best meal.

On Sunday I took the girls down to Portland for church. Before we left I did some research as to what I might be able to find in the way of vegan food. I happened upon a small chain cafe, the Laughing Planet, within walking distance of church. Little did I know there were tons of little cafes within walking distance of church and being Portland I’m sure a lot of them had a decent vegan selection (note for next time). I did manage to take a picture of my delicious lunch:

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It’s a veggie bowl! It was loaded with tofu, garlic green beans, broccoli, and asparagus topped with a cilantro lime slaw and peanut dressing. Man, it was good but way bigger than I thought (I even skipped the brown rice that normally comes with it). This thing kept me full for the rest of the day (really, I couldn’t eat dinner!). Lexi had a bean burrito and Isabelle had a bowl of mashed potatoes with steamed broccoli and corn. I totally dropped the ball on adding extra veggies to their meals because it was my first time there and I just had no idea (again, note for next time).

It was quite the day and a half filled with way too much food. Some of it not too bad for us, some of it definitely not great. Both my girls were pretty miserable last night when we got home and insisted they were hungry for dinner. I was way too full to eat so I served them this:

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Afterwards, Isabelle was complaining of a tummy ache and could only lay on the couch. She kept telling me how grateful she was that we were not eating out again. Ha ha, back to mom made food for a while (job security).

Family Day

We have an awesome day planned for today. After Izzy’s soccer game we left for Vancouver (Washington). We are staying one night in Vancouver because Brian has some work to do. I am really excited to take the girls into Portland on Sunday and find some yummy vegan food. And can’t wait to spend some time together as a family.

In order to get ALL our stuff packed in (why is there so much stuff for one night!) and be ready to go this morning I needed another cooks itself breakfast. While baked oats did sound good I went a different way. Last night I prepped the stuff for an apple Dutch baby pancake. Never had a Dutch baby? A Dutch baby is similar to pancakes except instead of being multiple little hot cakes it is a giant one cooked in the oven. The version I found was made with oatmeal flour (yay!).

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We topped these with homemade walnut butter (first time making walnut butter, I really like it), maple syrup, and dried cranberries. These were gobbled right up.

Hoping for some good restaurant food to share in posts later. I already had amazing Mexican food for lunch but that deserves it’s own post.

Green Bananas

Last night’s dinner is a must share. Better late than never (maybe?).

We had a bunch of bananas that were still green after two weeks. I figured we would get more bananas in our Bountiful Basket today. Two whole bunches of green bananas seemed like too many. We need to use those bananas up. How, you ask? By making them into french fries!

The tricky part is peeling green bananas but everything after that is easy. After they have been peeled (I use a butter knife to help) slice them into wedges, drizzle a baking sheet with oil, spread bananas on sheet, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with spices. After baking for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees (flip once) the bananas turn into something very similar to a french fry. We even eat them with ketchup. Yum!

The rest of dinner was black lentils, steamed garlic broccoli, and wilted power greens. The adults had those thing mixed together with a mustard dressing.

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Izzy finished first! It was a very yummy dinner. The lentil mustard dressing combination is a real winner. I cannot get enough (I ate some later as a late night snack and Brian had the rest with his breakfast!).

Cold Bean Salad

We’ve had a lot of cold dinners this week. It’s been hot (not complaining!) and cold dinners are generally easy.

This Mexican flavored bean salad is usually a hit. Basically, beans are the base here and I’ll add whatever veggies I’m feeling like. Our bean salad has green beans, peas, carrots, chopped greens, onions, tomatoes, corn, avocado, and onions. To dress this salad I like a mix of Mexican spices (chili powder and cumin), garlic powder, salt and pepper with a splash of apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and a few drizzles of olive oil. We ate this salad with our homemade tortilla chips and the last of the cherries.

I don’t have much else exciting to say (not that my day was boring by any means), I’ll work on that for tomorrow.

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Not Dogs

Hot dogs have always kind of creeped me out. Even before I was old enough to realize all the weird stuff in them (pork, turkey, and beef all lumped together…questionable). Ever have the green hued ones from the school cafeteria?

When I was little I would only eat them boiled and hated when my mom microwaved them. Also I preferred the “cheese” filled kind (gross, I know!).

After we started paying attention to what we were eating it was clear hot dogs, even the best ones, are really not that great. I found a vegan version that was not filled with grains and wheat gluten! And by found, I mean discovered a recipe to make my own Bean Not Dogs. These are not grain free because they do have oats in them but they are far better (in terms of ingredients) than meat ones or vegan wheat filled versions. Which brings me to, no, they do not taste like a hot dog but they are good and hot dog like (in that you can top them with ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc. and get the hot dog feel).

We wrapped our Not Dogs in lettuce and ate them with red potato salad and raw veggies. The dressing for the red potato salad is made with Veganaise, plain yogurt, and a touch of Dijon mustard (shhh the kiddos think they don’t like mustard). I stashed celery and peas in the salad along with the regular onions and spices.

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Cherries are Here!

Yesterday I picked up cherries from a farm direct produce stand that recently popped up. Lucky for me this stand is on the way to Lexi’s preschool so I go there on a weekly basis. I get really excited about produce! Especially at places like this where the produce is fresh, local, and very reasonably priced.

The focus of lunch was the cherries! They girls also had a few raw veggies and a peanut butter chickpea mix. Their faces and hands were covered in cherry juice. Small price to pay for the sweet taste of cherries!

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Garden Fail

I grilled dinner tonight so I could work on my garden. Hubby brought me home some soil to mix into my raised bed and I had a lofty goal of getting the bed all pretty and ready to be planted (since I have already slacked off for this long). Unfortunately I managed to grill a great dinner but got very little gardening done. There is always tomorrow, right?

We had grilled veggie bowls tonight. I used a stir fry mix with various colored peppers, snap peas, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and peas. For the last few minutes I stirred in a power green mix (wonderful giant bag from Costco with chard, spinach, and some other greens) until wilted. We had a little leftover rice to go under the veggie mix and beans went on top. These veggie bowls were dressed with soy sauce and sesame oil and red pepper flakes for the grown ups.

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Isabelle finished her bowl long before I did! Lexi took forever to eat.

While we were eating I had nut granola cooking on the grill. For nut granola I use about 2 cups of walnuts or pecans (or other large nut) and chop them in the food processor until crumbly. I add these to a big bowl with various other nuts and seeds (about 1 1/2 cups), 1/4 cup shreddy unsweetened coconut, and a pinch of salt. To a small bowl I melt 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp peanut butter and 2 tbsp honey. The coconut oil mixtures gets added to the nut mixture until well coated. I cook this on a  baking sheet at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes turning over once. Unfortunately, I was distracted reading to the girls at dinner and my poor nut granola was blackened. I whipped up a smaller second batch and watched it much closer and got this:

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Water Fights and Smoothie Snack

Since we had a few errands to run after picking Lexi up from preschool I brought along some carrots, oranges, and walnuts for the girls to snack on. Ater errands we got home just in time to meet a few neighbors at the neighborhood park for a water fight. No time for lunch, must get to the water fight (priorities)! The girls did not complain about their lack of lunch until we were had been at the park for over an hour. At this point, it was past Lexi’s nap so, again, we didn’t have time for anything substantial, just a quick yogurt and granola.

After nap I made up for all the snacking instead of actual eating by I mixing up some chocolate smoothies. I used the Chocolate Smoothie recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook. This smoothie is packed with some sustenance and is delicious and creamy. The secret weapon in this smoothie is avocado! Avocado and chocolate are a perfect pair. The chocolate masks the avocado taste but makes for a great creaminess. I learned this two Valentine’s days ago when I made this Chilled Double Chocolate Torte. This was before Isabelle liked avocados. She helped me mix up the torte and watched as I put avocados into our dessert and I swear from that day on her attitude toward avocado changed. I’m getting off track in my excitement for avocados and chocolate together. Back to smoothies. These smoothies were delish and filled with chocolate, peanut butter, avocado, spinach, and almond milk.

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I may have to stock up on avocados since I have a feeling this smoothie will be requested again. No such thing as too many avocados in your house. =)

Breakfast for Dinner

During breakfast this morning Lexi asked if we could have breakfast for dinner. It’s been awhile since we did that and it’s been awhile since the girls had input on what we have for dinner so I went with it. Plus, I was feeling a little guilty for giving them this for breakfast:

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after Izzy had asked for french toast. There was just no way we were going to start the day off that way. This, while it may look homely and plain, was actually enjoyed. It is an egg, 2 tbsp of flax meal, 1 tbsp melted butter, a splash of vanilla and maple syrup, and cinnamon. The essence of french toast without the bread. I think the fact that I smothered it in maple syrup and topped with pecans helped my case.

So after shutting down the french toast I made the oatmeal and almond flour waffles again. For Brian I made jalapeño popper waffles. I used the same waffle batter but added a chopped jalapeño, diced onion, handful of shredded cheddar cheese and 2 ounces of cream cheese cubed. Everything about that sounds good, right? Dinner was served with watermelon, scrambled eggs, and sautéed spinach (have to get some greens in there!).

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BTW we totally enjoyed our leftover fish in fish tacos for lunch! It’s kind of mean to give a child a taco wrapped in lettuce. It’s difficult enough for adults to not drop the contents of the taco all over, near impossible for a child. Oh well, they ate it and don’t mind getting messy.

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I’m Addicted to Blueberries

I woke up on Mother’s Day thinking about ice cream and mentioned to Brian that I was considering making some homemade ice cream for dessert. The flavor possibilities are endless if you make your own! There was no one flavor really coming to mind. He responded with blueberry because I have been on a blueberry kick. Hmm…blueberry crumble flavored ice cream with little chunks that resemble crust. That sounds like a winner but I didn’t have any canned coconut milk to make the custard for ice cream. How about just plain old blueberry crumble. Easier and way more blueberries per bite than in ice cream!

Blueberry crumble ice cream will have to wait for another day (unless I eat the Costco size bag of blueberries in the freezer first!). My blueberry crumble recipe is easy and like most of my other recipes not very accurate. The crumble is great over a lot of other fruits as well. The taste and texture varies based on how much and what I decided to put in. Generally, though, I layer a pie pan with fruit of choice (blueberries, blueberries!!!). In my food processor I chop up about 2 cups of nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or all three) and 1/4 cup of oats to coarse crumbs. Next, I add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, pinch of salt, and 2 tbsp of honey. I process this until it starts sticking together a bit adding more oil, peanut butter, or honey as needed to get a slightly sticky crumble. After eating a few spoonfuls to make sure the flavor is right (necessary step!) I spoon over the blueberries and bake at 350 degrees until the toppings brown and the fruit is bubbly (about 30 mins).

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I really could eat the whole pan. This was how much was left after I served Brian and my bowls, ha ha. Now, I must make him something to eat tonight so I can have the rest of this for myself!