Sunday Dinner

Remember when I said cauliflower was a coveted item around our house. Well, I bought a head of cauliflower last week and managed to save it until today. I knew I wanted to do something special with it and not just eat it raw with dip.

So what I did with it was this:

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That spicy buffalo chicken pile you see there is actually spicy buffalo sauce cauliflower. I found a recipe on Pinterest for buffalo cauliflower awhile ago and it became an instant favorite. The cauliflower pieces gets coated in a thick milky sauce (thickened with flour or almond meal) and then baked in the oven until cooked through. After that, a buffalo sauce of Frank’s Red Hot and oil (olive or avocado works well) is basted over the cauliflower and cooked a few more minutes. I  like to flip and add a little more sauce to really coat them. I pile that buffalo sauce cauliflower over wilted greens (kale and collards tonight). Next to the cauliflower is asparagus and bulgur.

The girls get chicken when we have the spicy cauliflower. I made baked chicken nuggets for them using almond meal and coconut flour to coat the chicken pieces. After I served them up Lexi asked for buffalo sauce on her chicken. And she loved it! Isabelle is not a fan of spicy and tried a little buffalo sauce but didn’t like it. Maybe next time, I can make Lexi some buffalo chicken nuggets. In times past when I make this I will make a little buffalo chicken pieces with the cauliflower but the buffalo cauliflower is just so much better that I didn’t waste my time with the chicken. Who knew, Lexi would have eaten it?

Brian gets these leftover for his birthday lunch tomorrow! Lexi can’t wait for leftover chicken nuggets with buffalo sauce for her lunch. She made sure there was enough sauce leftover for her before Brian’s lunch was packed up. Silly spicy loving girl.

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Lexi’s Favorite

Lexi has been asking me about macaroni and cheese rather frequently lately. I don’t know what it is about macaroni and cheese that kids gravitate towards. Isabelle ate so much macaroni and cheese when she was little that I couldn’t bare to buy another box. And mostly, I don’t. In very special circumstances I will allow the girls to have Annie’s boxed macaroni (they love the Arthur and bunny shaped pasta!). Other than that it is homemade cheese sauce, just say no to cheese powder!!

So I made her the beloved cheese sauce. The easiest and most kid approved recipe I have found for homemade cheese sauce is from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook. It’s  made with cauliflower puree which gives it a creaminess I haven’t found in any other recipe. In a pinch, I skip the cauliflower puree and add more milk. Cauliflower is a coveted item around our house and very tough to keep in stock. If we have it, I’m dreaming of the million way I’d love to use it and one of those is not pureed to add to something else. Unfortunately, to get the girls to really love the sauce I do have to add a little velveeta (oh, the shame!).  Win some and lose some.

The cheese sauce was stirred into some cooked spaghetti squash, peas, and spinach. No actual noodles so I guess it’s not really macaroni and cheese but the sentiment of macaroni and cheese is there and the girls thought it was good just the same. I added some mushed white beans for heartiness (this has become regular for me).

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For the adults I made the pumpkin cheeze sauce from here. It’s made of almond milk, nutritional yeast, and pumpkin. The girls cannot seem to get on board with this sauce but I think it’s a great substitute for cheese sauce. Brian’s bowl has a little of each so he could sample the vegan cheeze and actual cheese sauces.

The spaghetti squash I cooked was huge! So we got to have this meal for lunch as well. The beauty of the vegan cheeze sauce is that it reheats so well. Not so true for actual cheese sauce. It’s never as creamy as it was when it was first made.

We’ve had a lot of cheese recently and I’m glad that my cheese stock is running low. That will force me to use less and will be better for everyone’s tummies. No pizza, macaroni, etc on the meal plan this week!

 

Speady Dinner and Friday Equals Cookies

Well, the girls had way too much fun at the birthday party. What that means is they both complained of stomaches before we left. When we got home I intended on making soup for me to eat and have leftovers to feed them for breakfast. Instead, Brian and I devoured Spiced Red Lentil Soup (Oh She Glows) with no leftovers. Oops! So I let the girls have oatmeal for breakfast and made a brothy soup for lunch.

The soup was a spin-off of hot and sour soup without the hot and with some honey for sweetness (maybe it can be a sweet and sour soup?). They got to finish off the rest of the veggie salad with some cantaloupes.

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For dinner I prepped this speedy three bean salad during lunch. It really was speedy! Most of the time on this dinner was spent whisking the dressing ingredients together (such hard work, right? ha!). The three bean salad has red beans, chickpeas, and green beans. I also used roasted red pepper and chopped kale. And the dressing is mostly lemon juice (told you, I’m on a lemon dressing kick) with a little apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard. The three bean salad was so easy and delicious, a definite keeper! In fact, I’m thinking of making some to bring to a Fourth of July party (at least then I will have something I can feel good about eating). To contrast the cold salad I cooked some sweet potato fries and served it all with some more salad (lettuce salad).

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Don’t worry that fry plate is the family style plate that we place on the table and grab from. That is not Brian’s plate (although I’m sure he wouldn’t complain if it was). While the fries kind of steal the show the three bean salad was well-loved too.

Since I didn’t have to make dinner during my usual dinner prep time I made cookies. Chocolate chunk chocolate cookies! I did adapt these cookies to use almond/peanut flour and chickpea flour instead of the oat flour to make them grain free. Not only are they yummy and very richly chocolatey they are vegan, refined sugar free, and my version is also grain free! Cookies that are a treat but won’t leave us craving sugar the next day.

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This picture really does not do justice to the chocolatey goodness of these cookies. There are chunks of dark chocolate that you just can’t see but you can definitely taste. I’m hoping to use some of these cookies in a toned down version of cheesecake for me to celebrate Brian’s 30th birthday on Monday. He is not a fan of cake but is a huge fan of an oreo cheesecake I made some years ago and it has become tradition that it is birthday treat every year. Just wait until you see the beauty of that cheesecake. No it is not the picture of health but it beautiful and rich looking (and tasting) and it’s a birthday, 30th at that!, so we will live it up (except me who will eat a no sugar version so I can function the next day, ha!).

 

 

Laser Tag Party and Lots of Veggies

The girls were invited to a laser tag birthday party for dinner. Neither of the girls had any idea what laser tag was but they were excited to celebrate a friend’s birthday nonetheless. To be honest, I’ve never played laser tag either so I wasn’t too much help in describing what it may be like for them. But now we can all say we’ve played laser tag! And they absolutely loved it. The moment we left they were asking me when we could do it again. The best part was that the party was for a seven-year old girl and that during our first round of laser tag the other group playing was from a 13-year-old boy’s birthday party (hello, stereotype!).

In preparation for a birthday party filled with pizza, cake balls, and ice cream we ate a lot of veggies. For lunch the girls had green bean spaghetti. To make it hearty I smashed up some red beans with the sauce. Next to that they had carrots and cantaloupe. Nobody missed the noodles. Izzy was amazed about how good it was.

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I had a similar lunch but instead of spaghetti sauce I topped my green beans (and a few carrot slices) with leftover lemon tahini sauce. Lemonny dressing or sauce is one of current obsessions and this lunch was very very good.

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Before we left for the party I offered up a veggie salad. This is my no grain take on pasta salad. Instead of noodles I just add more vegetables and some more vegetables with creamy Veganaise and plain yogurt and spices. Let’s see included veggies were peas, broccoli, carrots, and kale. Oh, and while not a veggie I add pumpkin and sunflower seeds for extra crunch. The girls have become very fond of these salads. Lexi was not excited at all when I told her what was for snack but she ended up eating it all and asking for more.

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Maybe they will forget all about pasta salad and just think of this veggie salad as normal. Although, I guess the downside of that is they will not find this anywhere except at our house. Oh, the problems of making all my kids food. Ha, ha! Good problems to have!

 

Summer Please Slow Down!

We had another busy day running errands between going to swim class and nap time. At this rate August is right around the corner! No!

I brought plenty of sustenance on our errand running because I had a feeling we’d be gone awhile. Regular things like carrots, broccoli, and an apple. I did pack a little something special. Yesterday, I made chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies. You know the kind: oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate, butter, sugar mixed together and dropped into cookies that set up in the fridge. Well, our no bake cookies did not contain the 2 cups of sugar required in other recipes but they were just as satisfying. I adapted this recipe to include melted chocolate chips and reduce the cocoa powder and sweetener.

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No refined sugar or butter here! These have oats, peanut butter, chia seeds, coconut oil, banana, cocoa powder, honey, and melted chocolate chips.

Thankfully, we had nowhere to go this afternoon (first time in a week!) and the sun was peeking out. I took that as my opportunity to do the grilling I didn’t get to on Monday. Grilled veggie kabobs!! The kabobs were green pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, and onions. I also grilled jicama fries and green beans. Dinner was assembled in a bowl to make kabob bowls on a bed of spinach. To add to the yum factor I topped with a cumin coriander lemon tahini sauce (Oh She Glows).

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Plant strong, baby!

Tuesday Eats

We ate all our meals at home together and not in a rush today (well me and the girls, Brian had to work of course)! Summer break is turning out to be very eventful. I’m still waiting for the relax time, it’s coming right?

The girls had an eventful breakfast as there were cinnamon rolls leftover from the weekend so they got half of one each. I made them a fried egg and served it over wilted spinach. They happened to eat all the spinach because it was covered in yolk, score!

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Nobody had lunch suggestions but I did have a little quinoa and beans leftover in the fridge so I put them together with some oil and spices for a warm salad. This kind of lunch is Isabelle’s favorite. She just loves the beans and oil combo. They also had radishes, jicama, red cabbage, and green apple. I used all of those veggies plus some carrots to make a slaw to put on top of my lettuce. It was oh so yummy!

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Dinner! Dinner was exactly what I felt like eating. It was a creamy curry (from the Oh She Glows cookbook). The curry had cauliflower, bell pepper, onions, garlic, and peas with curry powder. The creaminess comes from soaked cashews and was a great addition. We put the curry over millet or sautéed collard greens (if your name is mom). Surprisingly, Brian was feeling like shrimp so we threw that on the curry and it went better than you would think.

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I love dinners like these. =) A warm bowl of vegetables in sauce makes me happy.

And the Clouds Rolled In

When I made my menu, today was supposed to a beautiful sunny 77 degrees. Maybe it was early afternoon but by the time it was nearing dinner the winds had changed (or really just started) and the clouds rolled in. I had intended to grill and hang out in the sun with the girls maybe even let them run through the sprinkler. But today got away from us and we needed to make it to the store before dinner. Oh well, grilling in the wind and clouds didn’t sound as fun so I gave up my grilling plan for an easier dinner.

I’ve made this Teriyaki Noodle Bowl before for my breakfast and fell in love with it. It’s pretty easy to make and the homemade teriyaki sauce is so good, it pretty much makes the meal. The first time I made it I didn’t add noodles because it was just for me but tonight I used some sweet potato noodles (they are clear noodles that I got from the Korean store!) for the family. The noodle bowl has broccoli, celery, edamame, onion, garlic, and shredded carrot. Shredded carrot with sauce is my new obsession. I had never thought of using carrots as a noodle substitute until I saw it on Oh She Glows but I’m so glad I discovered it.

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Everyone’s favorite part happened to be the noodles (of course). Those noodles were filling, though, and Isabelle was a little too full to finish that bowl. These leftovers are going to make an amazing breakfast for me and lunch for Brian. Can’t wait!

Celebration Day

We celebrated the end of the school year, the end of soccer, and the completion of Brian’s marathon all in our Super Celebration Saturday. We celebrate with food =) and sometimes by watching a family movie (Monsters Inc. this time). The day would have been a little more celebratory except that Lexi didn’t take a nap two days in a row and was not feeling well.

wpid-imag1633.jpg             Izzy at her last soccer game!

One of our favorite family night activities is making homemade pizza. It has been a long time since we’ve done it and the super celebration day seemed like the perfect day (aside from the fact that Izzy had pizza for lunch at her soccer party-though our pizza is much more real than what she ate).

My current favorite regular pizza crust recipe is this honey wheat pizza crust. I say regular because the past few times I’ve made pizza we go for a really thin crust. I have probably ten pizza crust recipes that I use based on what we’re feeling. Brian’s pizza was chicken, bacon, ranch (with some bonuses like roasted broccoli). The girls like to mound whatever we’ve got on their pizza. Their pizza is separate because they love olives on it and Brian can’t stand olives. And lastly, I make my own pizza because I cannot handle a regular pizza crust. Instead, I use a low carb wrap or some other option for my pizza. I tried out a new recipe for a giant chickpea flour pancake that I used as the crust and topped with sauce, veggies and almond vegan cheese. Unfortunately, my chickpea flour pancake did not stay together and required me to use a fork. It was less like a pizza but still tasty.

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After eating so much pizza I had to give them a little pie to complete celebration day. The official unveiling of the pie flavor: Ferrero Rocher Pie. The candies are one of Brian’s favorite things so the pie attempts to recreate the flavors. I adapted the recipe to use a toasted hazelnut crust and added in some wafer cookies to the filling.

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The pie was delicious. Toasted hazelnut crust, cream cheese and Nutella filling, and whipped cream with chunks of Ferrero Rocher candies inside. To top off that I shaved some dark chocolate and chopped up some toasted hazelnuts.

The celebration continues as we have a ton of pizza and pie leftover. And since there was so much pizza dough I saved some to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It is a super celebration weekend! Tomorrow we kickoff our first week of summer with swim lessons, dance classes, and some summer learning. I’m looking forward to spending time together, making memories, and spending time at home.

 

Tofujitas

Keeping with our no meat theme this week we had tofu fajitas. Every bit as delicious as the steak kind but even better for us. I wish I could tell you they were easier to make than the meat kind but that’s just not true. They do have the bonus of not having to worry about contaminating the veggies or the cutting board with raw meat, though, so that’s something.

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These tofujitas were so good. They were finished in record time, even by Lexi. That may have had a little to do with us dangling the if-you-eat-your-dinner-quickly-we-can ride-bikes-afterward reward. Even still if they weren’t good, she would never have finished.

I added jicama to the peppers and onions which added a nice crunch. We topped them avocado cilantro cream, cheeze sauce, and a little plain yogurt. My tofujitas were in lettuce and they were so messy! But the yumminess was worth the mess.

After dinner we took the girls out to ride bikes and took the training wheels off of Izzy’s bike. She very much needed us to take the initiative and challenge her. She was content to ride with those training wheels on, always leaned over to the left. After a little frustration she started to get the hang of it. It’s going to be a little bit before she rides on her own but she’s making good progress. And bonus, no blood on our first attempt! That’s a win in my book.

School Free Friday

Our first Friday of summer break! It was me and the girls all day today since Brian is up in Seattle preparing for his long-awaited marathon. When I asked what they wanted for breakfast this morning I got the answer I had been anticipating: pancakes. But then they changed their minds to waffles. Lexi is a waffle lover and she convinced me to make them. Waffles are so time-consuming because you can only cook one at a time! Maybe it’s time to invest in a second waffle maker? Probably not, I’m pretty particular about my waffle maker and I doubt I could find one that fits my specifications. Plus, mine makes heart waffles, definitely can’t beat that!

I used this almond flour pancake recipe and just made into waffles (no changes). They worked out beautifully. They were extremely filling waffles and I was shocked to see the girls finish their plates. The oversized breakfast worked out well though because we went to a Kid’s Day event (official school is out kickoff in a nearby city) and didn’t eat lunch until late.

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Poor lonely strawberry. There were only a few left after sending some to work with Brian and snacking on them before breakfast. Because these waffles are so dense I’ve got quite a few leftover and should probably freeze them so I can easily pull them out when Lexi requests waffles again.

Since it was just us girls for dinner guess what I made. Salad! Not just any salad, Mexican inspired salads! I’m in the middle of stocking my freezer with big bags of cooked beans. Sadly, it took my awhile to realize that if I soak a lot of beans at once and then cook them, I can have beans in the freezer that are almost as instant as canned beans but better. Homemade cooked beans are not as salty and taste fresh compared to the canned kind. This project usually takes me three or four days depending on how many different beans I’m making. I used to cook only what I needed at a time (huge time waster). So today’s variety was black beans and a few of those got thrown into the salad along with some shredded chicken that I cooked for tomorrow’s pizza night.

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These bowls are deceptively heavy, packed with veggies. There is onion, roasted broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, peas, and corn. The salads got a splash of lime juice and the girls have oil and seasonings while I got chipotle salsa (so obsessed with this stuff right now).

We are looking forward to tomorrow. Isabelle has her last soccer game and Brian will have completed 26.2 miles! Serious accomplishments around here.