Eating In

Truth be told eating out is not as exciting as it used to be. Because I cook all day everyday I’ve become very accustomed to having my food the way I prefer it. So much so, that when I go out to eat I’m not as thrilled about my food because it’s not as good or how I would do it. Also, we have now become those people who are very particular about their food order. Can I sub this for that and please leave off the bun, dressing on the side, etc.

Well, to be fair I have had some really unexpectedly great meals out to eat and those always seem to come when I am fairly specific about my requests. Hmmm, maybe be an annoying orderer is worth it. I’m thinking specifically of a dinner Brian and I went out to together a month or so ago when I requested that the contents of a mushroom burger or wrap, not sure which, be put on a salad instead. That salad was made for me! It had portabello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, pesto, Dijon mustard, and balsamic. I’ve been recreating various versions of that salad since.

However, for the most part I’d say I prefer to eat in. There are plenty of recipes to experiment with out there that are just as good and better than what you would get eating out. All this came up because we went out to dinner tonight as a family. My food was ok, not amazing, and likely to make me feel not my best tomorrow. And little Lexi, the girl who knows no limits, could not resist a hot dog and fries. She will be a little off tomorrow as well. And funny little side note: Isabelle has outgrown the kids menu. Kid’s menus are always the same: hot dogs, burger, breaded chicken, or macaroni. Lame. I recently heard a thing that most other countries do not have separate menus for the children. “Kid Food” is a totally American thing. So, now, Isabelle prefers to order something off the actual menu that is a little more “real food”. I totally support her not wanting to eat the typical kid food. Her choice tonight? Southwest chicken salad. And with the exception of the little bit I ate she finished that thing! And she was full!

So, eating out is not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. It reminds me of some pretty great dinners we’ve had recently. Dinners that got a lot of yummy noises.

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First up is this one. I actually commented while I was eating this dinner that it was so much better than anything we’ve had in a restaurant. These tacos are made with my homemade tortillas. They have sautéed broccoli, beans, onion, and garlic with taco seasoning inside. As well, as a hint of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and olives. Salsa, plain yogurt, smashed avocado, and a little cashew cheeze sauce on top. All those flavors! Next to them we had roasted green beans (my fave!) and cob corn (or corn cut off the cob if you are my husband, he just can’t get down with the corn on the cob).

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This dinner was a snap to prepare. The veggies come in a big fresh stir fry mix filled with chard, carrots, snap peas, broccoli and kale. I cooked up some onions and added the veggies with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Toasted cashews top the stir fry. That little tiny brown stuff next to the veggies is kaniwa. We found it on our most recent trip to the natural market I love so much. Apparently, this kaniwa stuff is related to quinoa and cooks the same way. We call it mini quinoa because that’s exactly what it looks like. Kaniwa and quinoa are both seeds and you definitely get that sense with stuff because of how little each one is. It tastes very similar to red quinoa.

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Stuffed pepper casserole! I used to get so excited to have peppers on hand and want to make stuffed peppers. Then I would make them and we would always struggle to eat them (they just tip over or have the stuffing spill out!). What’s more is that it never seemed like the ratio of filling to peppers was enough. I have learned! Now, when I get the urge to make stuffed peppers I tell myself, no, and make a stuffed pepper casserole instead. Same idea, easier to eat, more filling! Problems solved. I made this stuffed pepper casserole with beans, riced cauliflower, peas, kale, canned diced tomatoes, and, of course, the roasted peppers. Mine and Brian’s got the last bit of cashew cheeze leftover from the tacos above. Mmmm. I can still remember the warmth of this filling casserole in my tummy. Piping hot casseroles in colder weather, yes please!

I’d gladly take these dinners over what I ate at the restaurant today (a lettuce wrapped burger, in case you wondered). However, we didn’t go to the restaurant because we didn’t want to cook or didn’t have the time to. We went, purposefully, to spend time as a family doing something different and going to a new place. The girls look forward to doing these kinds of things and we don’t eat out very often. In the end it’s much less about the food and more about being together. (But darn those kid’s menus!)

Outdoor Movie Fun

My lentil loaf dinner from the other day turned out to be a delicious consolation prize. God is good and my plans not working out was for the better since Brian had worked in the middle of the night and would have been very tired during our date night. It’s the same things I’m always telling my girls, you don’t know what I have planned so don’t be disappointed. And so God is continually reminding me of the same. Well, with my consolation lentil loaf dinner we had side salads and roasted yellow beans. Can I just say I would eat a mounding plateful of roasted green or yellow or purple beans if it was acceptable. Seriously, I didn’t want to share the yellow beans, they were so good.

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Lentil loaf is a favorite in our house. This version is adapted from Oh She Glows and has toasted walnuts, almond meal, celery, broccoli, onions, and garlic in it. Additional yum comes from the apple balsamic glaze on top and yep more onions.

Tonight’s dinner is tortilla soup. It’s one of those soups I didn’t have growing up and so coming into it late in the game I could eat it a lot. Our version is made with beans and vegetables instead of the traditional chicken. My favorite part is topping the bowls with the little extras: avocado, chips, lime juice, cilantro, more spices. I’ve tried a few different tortilla soup recipes and don’t have one that I prefer exclusively over the others. As long as the cumin and chili powder spice is there mixed with some vegetables, tomatoes, and broth I’m in.

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We attempted an early dinner because we are going to see an outdoor movie in the park (c’mon no rain!). There will be concessions but if you’ve been following me for any amount of time you know we will be bringing our own snacks. For the festivities I made some popcorn to mix in with out leftover baseball game popcorn (uh huh, I’m the mom that saves stuff like that) and cookies! I am having a love affair with cookies. I used to be a cake kinda gal and cookies on occasion but I’ve found it so much easier to make a healthy cookie so I’m all about the cookies. No bake cookies, raw cookies, cookie bars it’s all good. I pulled out an oldie but goodie recipe that I haven’ t made in probably a year. This recipe is so simple and I totally underestimate the simplicity. Almond meal/flour, coconut oil, honey, sea salt, chocolate chips. Done! That’s it! For these cookies I did elaborate on the add-ins with chickpeas and a small section with butterscotch chips and sprinkles (the girls will go gaga over that!). I’m also bringing carrots and peanut butter since I did a longer run this afternoon and don’t want to be hungry and tempted to eat so much popcorn.

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