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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Dinner in a Bowl

You know, I find myself reaching for the bowls for our dinner more and more. In fact I’d say most of my meals are eaten from a bowl rather than on a plate. But when you think of dinner, you think of plates. That’s why they are called dinner plates, right?

Forget the plates, the best dinners come in bowls! As I contemplate the remainder of my planned dinner meals for the week they will go in bowls as well.

The other night we had lentil vegetable salad bowl. It was a miscellaneous mix of things and my best effort to fill up my family (mostly directed at Brian who went on a faster paced long run that morning). We had gone to the movies that day and everyone had eaten entirely too much movie theater popcorn. Awhile ago I remember coming across something about how lentils would help if you had eaten not so well recently. Now, I don’t know if that is actually true but I like lentils (even if I’ve only been eating them for a year) and they are pretty easy.

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There are so many good things hiding in this bowl. In addition to lentils there is quinoa, peas, grilled purple cabbage, sauteed onions, and wilted spinach. I believe these vegetable salads were topped with a little oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper. My family loves quinoa. Whenever it makes an appearance they are sure to enthusiastically finish their food.

Yesterday, we had taco salads for dinner! I could eat taco salad a lot. No meat in these salads, though. The taco part of the salad is the sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and red beans in taco seasoning. The family got lucky and I happened to have some cheese already shredded and a green banana that needed to get used (banana french fries totally good on a taco salad).

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These salads were loaded with green peppers, olives, grilled jalapeños, chipotle salsa, and a scoop of yogurt.

Technically, the adult dinner tonight was not in a bowl but I did go back and forth about how to serve it. In the end I went with a plate because that is how one would get curry at a restaurant.

Yesterday, I was looking at a menu for a Thai restaurant and literally dreamed about Thai curry last night meaning I had to make some for dinner (easy dream to decode, ha ha). I’ve never made a Thai curry before and looked up a few recipes and then put my own thing together.

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I used yellow curry powder and a can of lite coconut milk as a start for the sauce. The curry has peas, spinach, broccoli, chickpeas, green peppers, and onions in it. All that saucy goodness was spooned over cauliflower rice. The girls had each of those things individually with a little bit of the actual curry sauce because I didn’t want to risk it. Isabelle said she loved the curry but I’m not sure how much she actually tasted it. I tend to serve their foods up in separate places in the bowl so they can decide if they want to mix it all together or eat it separately (you know kids get weird about that sometimes). After eating this for dinner (and having some leftovers for tomorrow morning) I don’t think Thai curry will be taking over my dreams again. I dream about food way too often, it’s not normal.