Fall Grilling

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the changing season, I enjoyed my evening grilling experience. It just felt different now that it’s Fall. The sun was shining but not in a hot summery way. There was a slight breeze but it was calm. And my girls were in and out taking their art time outside. Early Fall grilling is refreshing.

Isabelle lost another tooth this week (that makes 7!). Her missing tooth has led to a lot of conversations about eating corn on the cob and the difficulties involved with that. Cob corn, as Lexi calls it, is a favorite which is why they were talking about it. Little did they know I had bought some corn on the cob to grill this weekend. So we had the opportunity to see how Isabelle managed (read: corn all over her face).

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In addition to corn on the cob, I grilled green beans (I’m obsessed!) and veggie burgers. We had our burgers on lettuce with some Korean cucumbers (they are fermented instead of pickled) and tomatoes.

For dessert I grilled some sweet potatoes and then mashed them up to make this sweet potato and apple nut crumble. A great Fall dessert!

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The dish boasts sweet potato, apples, walnuts, and plenty of cinnamon.

Today has changed my mind about the new season. Maybe Fall won’t be so bad.

Beet Salad and Burgers

I’ve gotten the girls hooked on beets. They will eat them raw or cooked. The other night I steamed them slightly and put them in salads with roasted almonds and kale. For dressing we used a slightly sweet cinnamon apple dressing. Mmmm! The tartness from the kale and the flavor of the beets married so well with the dressing. We also used the last bit of black bean spaghetti and pasta sauce.

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That night we got to go see Lexi’s pre-k class so this dinner had to come together very quickly. It’s hard to not give into the temptation to just eat out on a night like that. In the long run, though, it’s faster and better to just bite the bullet and pull some home cooking together.

I did some super grilling over the weekend. We had all sorts of veggies that I wanted to grill: green beans, chard, and a variety of summer squash. Little Miss Lex was excited about the prospect of grilling and asked for burgers. Personally, I didn’t care about the burgers but she was really excited so I figured making a few turkey burgers for her would be worth it. Yep! She loved it! And we all loved the grilled veggies! I put mine in a bowl with a little Dijon mustard and olive oil and was just as happy with only veggies as Lexi was about her burgers.

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While I was grilling I made an additional dinner of tofujitas. I grilled the peppers and onions with some yellow squash. The tofu was grilled covered in salsa with added cumin and chilli powder. The next day I was so thankful I had grilled dinner and have very little prep to do. I was exhausted from getting ready for the week! Shopping and making lunches for Isabelle and figuring out school snacks for the week, etc.

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Tofujitas are so satisfying. We topped them with green olives, radishes, a little bit of cheese, and jalapeño. Like I said I was worn out from the day and could barely put in the effort to steam some corn and peas as a side dish.

This week is making me nervous since I’m already so tired and it has barely started! There is a lot to do this week! Hoping my hard work early in the week will pay great dividends at the end of the week. Happy Monday!

Labor Day Camping!

We are going camping! Would be an exciting 4 day camping trip except that we are spending one of those days traveling back and attending my sister’s “wedding”. I’m hoping we can use this camping trip to unwind a little from the summer and the busyness of the past few weeks as back to school craziness begins.

I’d love to say I have lots of pics of all the great food we are bringing because I have spent the past two days preparing it all. However, the truth is I do not. And my menu is not overly exciting because of the travel day on Saturday (and the “wedding” food). We are going to try to grill some pizza on Sunday, though. We’ve talked about making some camping pizza a lot in the past and we are going to give it a go. I made a pizza crust recipe specific to be used on the grill (slightly more durable than a regular crust) and we will see how it travels and how our always extra hot grill handles it. Oh, and per the girl’s breakfast request we are having biscuits and gravy one morning. These girls love their biscuits and gravy. I’ve got a great biscuit recipe made with chickpea flour so grains for breakfast will not follow pizza from the night before. Also, I did have to make more lentil wraps to use as buns for our chicken apple sausages (still can’t see another hot dog!).

While I have no pictures from today or from camping prep I do have a beauty of a cake to share. Brian’s mom is coming camping with us and her birthday is the day after we return home. Naturally, it is my duty to make her a cake! For awhile now (I don’t make cakes nearly as often as I used to) I’ve been wanting to make a Boston Creme Pie. Not for me because I am not a fan of custard or pudding or things of that nature. You know who is, Brian! So this cake should be a goody for him and hopefully will be appreciated by his mom too. I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the cake and some other recipe for the custard. Since I don’t like custard I’ve never made pastry cream before but I totally nailed it on my first attempt! And the cake came out yummy and more spongy than I’m used to making.

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Hullo, beautiful! You can never go wrong with a cake topped in chocolate ganache (or sprinkles!). We are bringing this lovely thing camping so the rest of the trip is very light on desserts, no cookies or bars (but s’mores of course!). Here’s to hoping the cake still looks this pretty once we arrive. Boston Creme Pie, I’m glad we’ve become friends.

Eggplant Burgers and Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

This morning I felt like making oatmeal. Not the kind you make from little packets, not even microwaving individual servings of oatmeal. I wanted to cook oatmeal on the stove. Weird, right? I gave the girls two choices: apple pie oatmeal or zucchini bread oatmeal. The unanimous choice was zucchini bread oatmeal. Yay! I’m all about eating veggies with breakfast (and I do pretty much everyday).

The oatmeal has zucchini, chia, lots of cinnamon, pecans, and raisins cooked into it. It really doesn’t take too long to make and was a real hit with the family. It smelled amazing cooking and I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls!

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We added chocolate chips because zucchini and chocolate chips just go together.

After breakfast I packed up leftovers from yesterday and we headed out for a family bike ride. Since the girls are young family bike rides are short. However, we are at a brief stage where Brian and I can actually ride our bikes while Lexi rides with her training wheels and Izzy continues to improve on two wheels. It’s been years since I have been able to get on my bike and ride with them because it seems we are always at a stage where someone is learning. Next year it will be Lexi’s turn to learn on two wheels so I’m trying to fit in my bike riding time during this short season.

We had a nice sunny day and grilling on Sunday seemed like a good choice. I’d bought an eggplant to make these burgers. It’s one of those rare eggplant burger recipes out there that doesn’t require you to add meat. Hello! I’m making eggplant burgers I do not want eggplant on top of my regular burger! I modified the recipe to use sunflower seed meal in place of breadcrumbs. They cooked up beautifully on the grill, nice and crisp.

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We topped the eggplant burgers with hummus, onions and tomatoes. Next to our burgers we had grilled corn and chard. There were lots of ooohhh and ahhhs about this dinner. Lexi even finished hers in a regular amount of time, including the chard. Chard is my current obsession. I wish I had bunches and bunches of the stuff. I’ve been stealing leaves to use in my salad all week and would love to have eaten an entire plateful. We tried really hard to figure out what else I could grill after dinner but came up short. By the time I was committed to something (apple and blackberry cobbler) the temperature was already too low. Oh well, no cobbler tonight! But likely another peanut butter chocolate lettuce wrap. Yum!

Grilling Streak

Three nights in a row, I busted out the grill! Last night I made steaks, leeks, green beans, and wilted super greens. I also grilled granola bars and nut granola. That brings the grilled eats to just about everything: veggies, meat, eggs, cookies, granola bars, and nuts.

Dinner was delicious. I put some feta on Brian’s steak and added sungold cherry tomatoes to everyone’s plate.

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I missed taking a picture but I put my steak on super greens, topped with chopped broccoli, the tomatoes, some of the grilled granola, and a cocoa chili dressing. AMAZING! The granola and cocoa chili dressing added something very special to the steak salad.

The granola bars and granola were a little overcooked (so hard to keep watch when it’s on the grill!). But they are both still pretty tasty. I’m hoping the granola bars will come in handy for our weekend adventure. We are planning on going to Yakima and camping for a night and then heading to Mount Rainier on Sunday on our way back home. Car trips and mountain hikes seem like granola bar activities.

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I considered going for a four night streak of grilling since I was going to bake sweet potato fries. They would have been delicious on the grill but I just couldn’t bring myself to put in the extra work of heading outside to start the grill. Shoot, I barely found a chance to heat my oven to put the fries in. The girls and I were engrossed in a tie dye craft session as well as me trying to do a million other things from being gone all day. Before we started our crafting I mixed up this blackeye pea salad. I’m very stuck on salad right now as that’s pretty much all I want to make or eat. The blackeye peas added a new twist and were very well received by the fam. And, anything next to sweet potato fries is a win.

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Big bowl of blackeye pea salad. As long as there is a ton of veggies and beans mixed together in a big bowl I figure we have enough food for dinner.

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It may not seem like much but the salad is packed full of broccoli, greens, tomatoes, onions, and blackeye peas.

Vacation bible school is going really well and is proving excellent practice for school. Despite having to drive to the same location multiple times per day I’m doing ok with it. The girls are loving it and Lexi wishes she could stay for as long as Izzy does. But Lexi and I have been using our time to do things we wouldn’t normally do. Such as, I took a nap with her two days this week! And today I took her to dance class on her own and to a new park to play. Since the camp is all week long I’ve had a chance to go for mid morning runs, do some shopping, and even sit child free in a coffee shop. Thank goodness for things going well, I was very nervous on Monday (more so than the girls!). Tomorrow is a half day for both girls so today was Izzy’s last packed lunch:

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Grilled egg cup, sungold cherry tomatoes, carrots, peaches, and a broccoli, carrot, beet slaw. Lexi had the slaw yesterday for lunch. Both girls adored the slaw.

A lot of planning has gone into this week. From packing all the lunches and breakfasts to remembering my workout clothes, towel, shopping lists, sunscreen, etc. Each night I’ve been having a major prep session for the next day but that is my tendency anyway. I’m a planner so I do my planning for the day ahead and try to embrace the things that come up that I didn’t plan for (need lots of practice with that). With all the thinking about the week I’ve hardly had a chance to figure out what needs to get done so we can leave Saturday morning for our weekend adventures. That’s what tomorrow is for. Packing, cooking, planning, and enjoying the afternoon at home. In anticipation of our travels, I’m going to make a chocolate cookie with some very interesting ingredients. Hopefully, I’ll have a good post with that tomorrow. =)

Tuna Salad!

A couple of weeks ago Brian’s friend from his former work gave us some salmon and sea bass that he had caught and a can of lemon tuna that he had caught and canned. This tuna has been starting us in the face basically everyday for 2 weeks now and the time had come to bust open the can and eat it! You have no idea how many times I considered cracking it open just to have a bite. But it was a sizeable can of tuna and with no plans for the rest of it that would just not be sensible.

We ate that tuna on a salad (of course!). And it was tasty, totally worth the wait! The tuna salad had grilled asparagus, grill roasted walnuts, onions, cucumbers, pickles, celery, broccoli, and carrots. I topped our salads with some tangy lemon mustard dressing and a little vegan goddess dressing.

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It was such a yummy salad that Lexi finished hers and asked for more. Amazing, since she is the least enthusiastic salad eater out of all of us. Maybe it was the tuna, or maybe the roasted walnuts, who knows!

Additionally, this is the second night in a row that I grilled and I’m planning on grilling tomorrow too. I’m on a grilling hot streak! Today was not planned. The girls wanted to play outside in their pool so instead of cooking the asparagus and walnuts inside I brought them out so I could cook dinner and let the girls play safely. I also grilled some eggs in muffin tins to send with Brian for breakfast or Izzy for lunch.

The mornings have been a little hectic getting lunches in lunchboxes, making sure the girls have gotten enough cereal and fruit, packing my breakfast (I just can’t eat a real breakfast until after 9), and packing a breakfast for Brian. We are going through tupperware like crazy since everyone is packing food (except little Miss Lexi)!

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I’ve never made this before but eggs and some add ins with the smoky grilled flavor have got to be good, right? Hope so because it was crazy easy, literally crack some eggs into greased muffin tins and add what you want or don’t and call it good. Stay tuned for grilling night number 3! Let’s see so far I grilled veggies, eggs, cookies, and nuts. What’s missing? Meat, tomorrow there will be some, pretty much out of necessity than actual desire.

Practice for School

Vacation bible school is this week! Lexi attends from 8:45 to 11:30 every day and Isabelle attends from 8:45 to 3 pm. When I signed them up I was not so sure about the extended day for Isabelle but then I figured it will be a good practice week for us to see what it will be like when she is gone all day at school in just one short month. Isabelle did a VBS a few years ago and loved it so I was just waiting for Lexi to be old enough to attend one as well so they could both go. As the youngest, I worry Lexi gets short-changed a lot and is stuck watching her sister do fun stuff or is being dragged around to Isabelle’s activities. Mindful of that, we skipped the last few years of VBS.

Since Isabelle is there all day she needs to bring a lunch. Practice for me to get lunches ready for her and for Brian each day since that is exactly what it will be like come back to school. At least I still get Lexi to eat lunch with. I’m a huge fan of prepping more than one day’s lunch at a time and having a few options at the ready for her to grab and go. With that in mind I packed three lunches to start us off:

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Leftover vegetable nachos, strawberries, and roasted almonds with chocolate chips.

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Peanut butter banana muffins (amazing 5 ingredient recipe with no sugar or grains!), carrots, and apple slices.

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Peanut butter and jelly in lettuce, carrot, cucumber, pickle, apple slices, and a small no bake granola bar.

She went with the muffins for today’s lunch. The method seems workable. I can tell you I feel a lot better knowing I only need to come up with one more lunch for the week (early release on Friday) and hopefully I can fill that in with leftovers. Plus, since I’m already doing the prep work Lexi’s lunches are somewhat made already too since they match what Isabelle has. Isabelle said she was nice and full from lunch and finished everything. She did notice that every other kid had a sandwich, though. That, I’m sure, will be very typical of her lunch experiences.

For dinner tonight we had a grilled vegetable salad bowl. I grilled zucchini and yellow squash, corn, peas, and onions. Over the weekend I made some lentils in anticipation of lunches or whatever so we mixed those in with the vegetables, added some tomatoes, and this vegan green goddess dressing. The dressing was a great added touch since it was made with avocado.

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We may have been a little too full to adequately enjoy these veggie bowls because while they were cooking I was mixing up almond thumbprint cookie dough to cook on the grill after dinner.  The cookie dough was so yummy and very, very filling since it is made primarily of almonds and almond butter.

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The thumbprint cookies are topped with cherry chia jam and a few just have chocolate chips. These cookies do have a bit of brown rice flour in them but they are sweetened with only honey, yay!. They are yummy but very filling. I like cookies like that, when you can eat just one but be completely satisfied that you don’t feel the need to eat more and more.

All in all, a pretty good little Monday. Maybe back to school won’t be so scary after all? Not likely, I was so nervous for both girls to be away from home today, that may not change.

 

Experimenting in the Kitchen

I love finding new recipes. It’s not often we eat the same thing over and over because I genuinely like to find recipes and try new things. Life might be easier if I had a set menu I rotated through every week or so but that wouldn’t be much fun. Plus my kids would not get try new things with us.

I’ve been making my way through the recipes in my Oh She Glows cookbook. A lot of them are fairly simple and not necessarily adventurous. But this morning I served up muesli. I had never made muesli before and nobody had ever had it either. This recipe was a make the night before and have instant breakfast in the morning type recipe. Perfect for trying to get out of the house to make it to the zoo.

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There are oats, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisins, shredded and diced apple, and plain yogurt in this. The verdict? Amazing! I can’t believe something so easy could taste so good. It was sweet, chewy, and creamy all at once. Keeping this recipe for quick make ahead breakfasts or even lunches.

We went to the zoo for the first time this summer. Somehow we managed to see just about everything and enjoyed our leftovers from yesterday for lunch. Also miraculously I didn’t buy any treats or kettle corn from the zoo! Here’s my Iz enjoying our packed lunch in the beautiful sunshine. She was grateful that we went.

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Yesterday afternoon I made a batch of vanilla chia pudding. Originally it was going to be dessert for last night but it wasn’t ready. My loss is the girls’s snack time gain. They had strawberries and vanilla chia pudding for snack. I’ve made chocolate chia pudding in the past and Lexi was not a fan. This, however, they both devoured. I’m talking licked the bowls good.

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Also a recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I’m hoping to have some later with grilled nut granola. That is assuming I can still eat after grilled veggie and tofu kabobs for dinner:

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In this bowl we have corn, green peppers, onions, yellow squash, mushrooms, kale, and tofu topped with a little wasabi cashew cream sauce (adults only). Mmmmmm. Grilled veggies and tofu, delish!

Wasabi cream sauce is a new discovery to me. I bought some wasabi powder recently and have been on a wasabi kick. The Wheat Belly cookbook had a wasabi cream sauce recipe that I adapted to be vegan. See, adventures in the kitchen. All about trying new things. The same old, same old is not for me unless maybe you add a little wasabi. =)

Double Grill

With the hot weather this week we planned a double grilling night. This means I make two dinners on the grill on one night. Since the charcoal is still pretty hot after grilling the first meal we’ve been creative in using up that additional heat. Sometimes we grill desserts, or toast nuts, make granola or simply make another meal. I opted for the later (and some extra) today.

Tonight’s dinner was grilled zucchini boats, broccolette,  and okra. The zucchini boats were stuffed with onions, garlic, tomatoes, corn, and white beans.

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I did grill some meat for later this week. It’s hard to think outside the box when grilling because meat just seems so obvious. So I grilled some bacon wrapped turkey breasts for Thursday.

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Also, I grilled granola bars (this recipe again). I figured I needed to make some to bring on our vacation and the grill is hot so why not. Must be careful when grilling things like this though, since it’s not as attended as in the oven the potential for burning is much higher.

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I tried a grain-free granola bar recipe from the Wheat Belly Cookbook this afternoon as well. They have nuts, seeds, dates, peanut butter, and milk in them. The turned out alright. I’m not in love with the taste but I think that can be altered next time to add some additional flavor and texture through add-ins. A good starting off point.

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Aside from cooking the girls and I went to the $1 summer movies and watched Despicable Me 2. They love this movie and have seen it tons of times. I was kind of hoping it would reduce some of the Frozen obsession temporarily. Not the case, though, immediately after the movie Lexi was singing Frozen. I tried!

More fun was in store for the girls as we participated in Ihop’s 56 cent pancakes for their 56th Anniversary. They each got a short stack of pancakes for lunch with a side of sausage. Their little tummies were extra full from eating movie popcorn and then pancakes but they were excited to get to do such special things on the same day.

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Now, I get the joy of going to the store to buy a whole bunch of bulk items. I always dread having to bring the girls since the bulk section is time-consuming but I also dislike going by myself. However, for their sake if I can make it work to go in the evening while they are in bed I do that because they would much rather be at home playing than at the store with me during the afternoon.

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!