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!)

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Meat Free Monday

We survived the meat filled camping trip! We actually had a very good time, ate way too much, had a few great campfires, got a little exercise, and surprised Brian with a few Father’s Day things (we totally got him his own Razor scooter so he can ride around with Izzy).

This week is going to be meat free all the way. That is until Saturday when we have our super charged Brian-Accomplished-His-Marathon and End of the School Year Celebration. We are giving the girls some Frozen paraphernalia including the movie on the actual last day of school, which is Wednesday. Since Brian has his marathon this weekend we didn’t want to sabotage his efforts with a celebration before so we will combine the two on Saturday. We have planned homemade pizzas (a favorite family night activity), a no bake pie (flavor to be unveiled on Saturday), and movies.

Naturally, following all the camping meat-eating and the celebration to follow this weekend we are vegging it up this week. Currently my dinner meal plan for the remainder of the week has the following: zucchsgetti, tofajitas (that’s tofu fajitas, for all you non-word combiners), roasted veggie bowls, and salad.

Tonight we had an interesting casserole. While browsing around looking for what I could do with lentils I came across this recipe for a Bean and Lentil Casserole. It’s really more of an idea than an actual recipe and would maybe not go over so well in other households. But in our house, veggies layered with bean mush is a total win. In fact, mush like this is one of Brian’s favorite things. He can put it in a bowl and use a giant spoon. Plus it has refried beans in it which is high up on the great-things-you-can-eat-with-a-big-spoon list. I loved it because of, well the veggies, beans, and lentils and because it was baked piping hot and warmed me right up. The girls loved it for all the same reasons. Beware, though, it might not seem like much but it is very filling!

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On the adult portions I topped with a vegan cheeze sauce. The sauce is made primarily of almond milk and nutritional yeast and while I love it, the girls really don’t. And now, I have extra for tofajitas later this week. Yay!

For lunch we had an extra baked potato saved from camping this weekend. I reheated the potato with butter and shoved beans and spinach inside and drizzled homemade “ranch” (vegannaise, plain yogurt, Johnny’s Garlic Seasoning, and Johnny’s Salt) over the top. It was hilarious to see Lexi grab the potato and eat it from her hand as if it was a sandwich. Either way, they devoured lunch quite happily.

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A lovely meat free Monday!

 

First Camping Trip of the Year

We did not used to be Memorial Day weekend campers. In fact, I really enjoyed lying low while everyone else fought the traffic and the crowds. Since Brian changed jobs last year and the new gig offers less vacation time we have to take advantage of long weekends. This is our first time camping for Memorial Day weekend since…well I don’t think we’ve ever done that together.

Also it’s our first camping trip since buying our newer trailer. Our first trailer was pretty old (1975 old) but did us well. The sleeping situation in there, though, was not ideal. We were often up in the middle of the night listening to Lexi roll around in the bunk above us, or trying to get comfortable in the twin mattress that we shared while the girls got the big mattress, or picking Izzy up off the floor when she falls out of the twin mattress that they shared while we slept on the big mattress. Bunk beds and a bed should solve that.

So what do we eat when we go camping? Well, I can tell you gone are the days when all we brought was a pack of hot dogs, buns, chips, s’more stuff and beer (maybe there was more but I don’t remember much else). Camping eats require a lot more of my prep time. However, having a trailer has really helped. It’s a little rough to bring lettuce in a cooler, strategic placement is key. Now I get to bring enough to fill a mini kitchen and don’t need to prep each meal fully before we go.

Our menu looks something like this:

Breakfast:
Zucchini chocolate chip pancakes and bacon
Omelettes and bacon
Eggs and grits

Lunch:
Lunch meat and lettuce
Mixed veggie and bean cold salad
Giant lunch salad (with blue cheese!)

Dinner:
Lentil sloppy joes on lettuce or tortillas with potato salad
Chili dogs and corn on the cob
Mushroom and broccoli baked casserole

Snacks and Desserts:
Apples, bananas, melon
Raw veggies and salsa or hummus
S’mores
Bananas with peanut butter and chocolate chips (cooked on fire, amazing!)
Popcorn
Peanut butter chocolate chickpea cookies