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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Mexican Inspired

Have I mentioned how much I love Mexican food? I think I have. My family does as well and it makes an appearance on our weekly menu at least once.

We’ve had it a couple of times in the last few days. I try to keep things interesting and these three meals were all very different. You know what, though, if you are not trying to put everything in a tortilla it makes variety a lot easier.

For dinner over the weekend we had a cold bean salad. Definitely not what you would traditionally put together: green beans, broccoli, onions, shredded carrots, and red beans. Topped with some lime juice, spices and oil.

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I used the chips to convince my kids that the bean salad would be extra yummy if they dipped their chips in. =) Mostly, I just wanted them to not gobble up the chips and be too full to finish the actual meal.

For lunch I attempted a jalapeño popper polenta recipe as a warm lunch for Brian after a super long run and to use up the jalapeño’s in my fridge. I say attempted because it didn’t work out quite as it should have but it did still taste amazing. The polenta didn’t set up right away but once it cooled it was held its shape the way it should. The polenta was baked with cheese, onions and jalapeños for Brian and minus the jalapeños for the girls.

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The girls didn’t get to wait for the polenta to cool so it was like grits for their lunch. However, they loved it so much that they insisted they could handle the spiciness of the adult version. And they did, happily picking out any of the larger jalapeño chunks and drinking lots of water after eating the smaller chunks.

And now for the star. Enchiladas!! This round of enchiladas were chicken and veggie filled and inspired by the Oh She Glows recipe. The secret ingredient in the enchiladas was the chipotle salsa I used in the filling and for the topping (none for the girls though) and the homemade enchilada sauce (if only I could remember which recipe I had used, the sauce came from a previous batch that had been frozen). Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I topped them with the cilantro avocado cream sauce in the recipe. The sauce is oh so good, avocado and cilantro with a hint of lime all creamed together.

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Hey look, that’s the polenta all set up the way it should be! The enchiladas were so amazing we had to have them for lunch the next day too:

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And you know what, it wasn’t enough! We all agreed I need to double the batch next time and we will just eat enchiladas for two dinners and lunches. Ha, the girls tried to convince me they would eat them all week for lunch. That may be a little Mexican food overkill but I appreciate the enthusiasm. Mmmm…why don’t I have more of these enchiladas in my fridge!

BTW in case you wondered I buy the low carb, high fiber wraps for my family. These used to be used for adults only and the kids had regular whole wheat tortillas but buying two kinds became too much of a hassle and the girls never even mentioned the difference.

I love Mexican food!!