Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chimichurri Baked Tofu

When I'm buying fruit, bananas and apples are the staples, since they are Jackson and Olivia's favorites. But I also buy whatever fruits are on sale each week, for variety.  This week it was cherries.  This morning I made oats with cherries, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and a dollop of coconut butter. So good.  The kids ate the rest of the cherries within a few hours of me returning from the supermarket. Guess I'll have to pick up some more!

We had an amazing dinner -- Chimichurri Baked Tofu from Viva Vegan, served with brown rice and sauteed chard. That chimichurri sauce is some good stuff.

Chimichurri is a sauce of Argentinian origin, traditionally used for basting grilled meats. It's made from parsley, red wine vinegar, garlic, crushed red pepper, smoked paprika, and other good stuff. It's just bursting with flavor and it really soaks into the tofu, greens, and rice. I've had the recipe bookmarked for as long as I've owned Viva Vegan, and I'm so glad I finally got around to trying it. Now I want to eat chimichurri on everything!

One of my goals for 2012 was to start doing "school" every day with the kids for at least 15 minutes. We sit at the table and look at flashcards or play educational games. Today I showed Jackson how to play Chutes and Ladders, while Olivia worked on a puzzle. I remembered playing this board game with my dad when I was little. What I didn't remember is that one game can go on forever! We kept landing on the "chutes" and having to start over at the bottom, haha. Oh well...at least we practiced a lot of counting!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Indian Fast Food

Awhile back, I impulse-bought some microwavable Indian entrees at Natural Grocers. The other night I decided to give them a shot.

Tasty Bite Spinach Channa

Sukhi's Vegan Chili Chicken

I really enjoyed the Spinach Channa. Chickpeas in a gingery spinach sauce, very nicely seasoned, not bland but not overly spicy either.

My pic of the chili chicken didn't turn out at all, but it looked pretty much like the photo on the box. Soy chicken pieces in a sweet chili sauce, with little bits of bell peppers and other veggies. It comes with a small piece of naan bread. I liked this dish all right, but the sauce was a bit too sweet. Not spicy at all.  Jackson enjoyed it, however, probably because of the sweetness and lack of heat. And the naan, although fine for scooping up pieces of chicken, had zero flavor of its own.

I like the idea of keeping heat-and-eat Indian food on hand for evenings when I don't feel like cooking, but want something other than a veggie burger. I'll have to check out the other Tasty Bite and Sukhi's flavors.

Jackson and Olivia are at that age now where we have to buy two of everything, when it comes to toys. Racecars or dolls, they really don't have a preference -- all that matters is that Olivia can have the same toy Jackson is playing with, and vice versa. Here they are with Mr. Potato Head 1 and Mr. Potato Head 2. Whatever keeps the peace!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nature Center Fun

Hi guys, sorry I disappeared there for awhile. Tony and I both came down with strep throat. Not fun. And ten days of antibiotics is rough! The cure was almost worse than the strep.  I felt horribly dehydrated the entire time I was on them.  Thankfully, Jackson and Olivia didn't get sick at all. And now we are all healthy again.

The kids had a bad case of cabin fever from being cooped up in the house while Mommy and Daddy were recuperating. I tried to make it up to them with a trip to the nature center.

The grounds are really pretty. And there is so much to see -- you could easily bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it.

They loved tossing pebbles into the pond.

Their favorite activity by far was the Dino Pit. It's like a huge sandbox with cement "dinosaur bones" buried in the sand. There are plenty of shovels and brushes lying around, so the kids can act like little paleontologists at a dig.

Olivia did NOT care for the feeling of sand between her toes. She was much happier once we put her sneakers back on.

Inside the nature center, there were various fossils, crystals and rocks for the kids to examine.

There was even a cave replica to play in. Jackson had a great time chasing Olivia through the cave repeatedly.

Such a fun morning.

That evening, Tony was nice enough to make dinner for us while I attended a meeting at Jackson's school. He is the stir-fry master. This one had tofu, edamame, peas, broccoli, and onions, and green peppers. Very green. And very tasty!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Conscious Cravings

On Saturday it was nice out, so we had lunch outdoors at a food trailer park. We are lucky to have these trailer parks around town. Each has a variety of food trailers to suit your mood, plus picnic tables to eat at. They bring the food to your table when it is ready. Besides getting to enjoy the fresh air, the meal cost is usually cheaper than at a traditional restaurant.

We had been wanting to try Conscious Cravings, a trailer that specializes in vegan/vegetarian wraps (depending whether you order dairy or Daiya cheese).

I had the blackened tofu wrap. The tofu was lightly seasoned...I felt like it could have used some more spice. The wrap also contained lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo. I like that they grill the wrap so it's nice and crispy when you bite into it. We also got a big order of rosemary french fries to share. They were pretty good.

The kids shared a black bean wrap filled with cumin-spiced beans, tomato, lettuce, and a vivid green chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri is great. They also offer a chimichurri seitan wrap, which I'd like to try some time.

Tony had the BBQ seitan wrap. I loved their homemade BBQ sauce. It was really tangy. I think they used a lot of vinegar and maybe some ginger. Good stuff. Tony felt that the seitan was a bit on the "brainy" side, however.

All in all, not a bad lunch, and the kids think it's so much fun to eat outside and people watch.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Central Grocery Olive Salad

One of our Christmas gifts was a jar of olive salad from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Several years ago, Tony had a roommate who was from New Orleans, so he got to spend a lot of time there. And apparently this is the olive salad above all others, and you need to have a jar of it if you are going to make an authentic New Orleans muffuletta sandwich.

I'm totally going to make a vegan muffuletta one of these days. But I was curious to try this legendary olive salad right away, so I tossed it with spaghetti and chopped spinach. (Also, since I can never have too many olives, I threw in a few kalamatas I had on hand.)

In addition to green olives, the olive salad contains bits of cauliflower, carrots, onion, celery, pepperoncini, garlic and parsley, as well as some other spices and oil.  It's salty, tangy, olive-y goodness. 
Have you been to New Orleans? We are tossing around places to go for our 10th wedding anniversary this summer, and we have talked about going there. We'll be taking Jackson and Olivia with us wherever we go, so we have to choose a destination that is at least somewhat kid-friendly, to keep them from being bored. There has to be other things to do besides Bourbon Street, right?
Have a great day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th! Did you know there will be three Friday the 13ths in 2012? It will return in April and July. Hope you're not superstitious!

Last night I made the Chesapeake Chickpea Sandwiches from Quick-Fix Vegan. I didn't have any of the scallions, parsley, or nori flakes that the recipe called for, so my patties were maybe not as flavorful as they should've been. They were also on the crumbly side, yet still perfectly serviceable on a ciabatta roll with Veganaise, lettuce, tomato, and dill relish, with a side of sweet potato tots.

The kids are in a goofy mood today.  Did you know that Mr. Potato Head's interchangeable facial features are way more fun when you wear them on your own face?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Art Among the Ruins

Today I thawed out some Lentil Chipotle Burgers (from Appetite for Reduction) that I made awhile back. They are just as delicious when reheated. I also baked some Alexia chipotle sweet potato fries. I wasn't trying to go for a chipotle theme. They just sounded good. Frozen sweet potato fries are my new thing. I gotta have some in the freezer at all times. They turn out so much crispier than when I bake my own fries. I dip them in Veganaise, yum.

Before Christmas, Jackson and I baked Chai Spice cookies (from 1000 Vegan Recipes). They kept well in the fridge while we were out of town and we are finishing them off now. They are so good with a glass of soymilk. You can really taste the fennel and cardamom. Like a gingerbread cookie, but with more heat.

It's cold today, but on a recent nice afternoon, I went to take some pictures outdoors.  I've heard that this abandoned construction site was supposed to be condos. I think we have enough condos -- I love that graffiti artists have taken over the ruins and made it into something much more interesting.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mac n' Cheese Disappointment

Today we were in a snacky mood when lunchtime rolled around. I made some kalamata olive hummus and the Garlicky Baby Lima Bean Spread from Vegan Soul Kitchen. I happen to love lima beans, so it's fitting that this dip was the first recipe I made from this cookbook. It's strong and spicy, flavored with red pepper flakes and, of course, garlic. 

My favorite thing about Vegan Soul Kitchen is not the recipes, however. It's the fact that author Bryant Terry suggests music to go with each dish. His taste is so cool and eclectic. If you want to check out the tunes, Oliver Danni posted the entire playlist on Grooveshark back during Vegan MoFo.

For dinner, I made the mac n' cheese from Happy Herbivore.  I'd been having great results with this book, which I received for Christmas. This led me to have such high confidence in this recipe that I made a double batch. That probably jinxed me. It was gross. The sauce had a weird smell, and it turns out I don't like rice pasta. Or maybe I overcooked it. The package directions said to cook it for like 16 minutes, which seemed crazy. It was rubbery and slimy. I like rice noodles in pad thai, but this rice elbow pasta was not working.

It looks good, right? The kids liked it, so it was not a total waste.

It's movie time...aren't Jackson and Olivia cute and cozy in their new sleeping bags? They love to snuggle up in them and eat popcorn.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shawnee Christmas

Since Tony is sickly, I wanted to make him a treat, but not one that would leave him feeling even more sluggish. Katie's Chocolate Chip Blondies were an excellent choice.

Super moist and almost fudge-like, thanks to the magic of chickpeas...yes, chickpeas.  Tony says these are some of the best blondies/brownies he's ever eaten, and I agree.

I also made tortilla soup from the Happy Herbivore cookbook. Great for the sinuses. Tony loved the bold flavor of this soup, too.

I am having great results with this cookbook. Everything is a snap to prepare. Especially when I have my helper in the kitchen.

Olivia has watched Jackson assist me for a long time and now she, too, is ready to step up (onto the step stool).

So, today I'm finally getting around to posting some pics of our Christmas. We went to Shawnee, Oklahoma to stay with Tony's mom for several days.

On Christmas morning, the kids slept in, so we were sitting around waiting for them to get up and see what Santa brought! I know will look back on this occurance with great longing a few years from now, when they are waking us up at 4 a.m. to get going on the presents.

I think Olivia's favorite present was the Christmas tree-scented candle Tony got me. Baby girl is really into candles.

Monster got his annual sacrificial plush toy to chomp on while we unwrapped gifts.

Tony and I prepared a Mexican feast for Christmas dinner, but I forgot to take pics. I made lentil enchiladas, soy curl tacos, and guacamole, while Tony handled the salsa, queso, and chicken quesadillas.

The next day I walked around downtown Shawnee and took some pictures. I like the train depot. It looks like a tiny castle.

Main Street is kind of run down and deserted these days.  Tony's mom said it has been going downhill since the shopping mall was built on the other side of town. It makes me think about what it used to be like, when it was thriving.

Faded signs, abandoned stores...

I don't know the real name of this antique shop. I just call it the Creepy Doll Store...

Old-timey signs...

Cool old theater...

It was a great trip. I always love going to Oklahoma. Hope we get to go back this spring, but Tony is going to be really busy at work the next several months, so we shall see.

Have a great day!