Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review - Kerbey Lane

This weekend I had two toddler birthday parties on my calendar. Ah, the life of a mommy! But I wouldn't trade it. After the endless solitude of New York, I'm very thankful that my kiddos have a circle of friends here to enjoy their childhood with.

After we were all partied out, we headed to Kerbey Lane for some diner food. We started off with some salsa and queso.

Jackson commandeered the salsa for himself.

I ordered the hippy burger -- one of the best veggie burgers in town. For an extra $.65 you can get sweet potato fries. I always get the sweet potato fries. They are always crispy, never soggy.

They also have great breakfast food.  And their South Austin location just moved into a new building that looks really nice.

It is a foggy, wet day here. We were going to go on a field trip to the nature center with Jackson's class, but it was cancelled. So Olivia and I are just hanging out for a bit before we go get Jackson from school. Hope you are having a good day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Evening Speedy Post

I have joined a book club, so the time that I would normally spend writing a more involved post is being consumed with trying to finish The Marriage Plot by next week. But I'll still attempt to blog, thus ignoring the wise words of Ron Swanson: "Don't half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."

For lunch, Jackson and I shared a buffalo popcorn tofu po-boy from Wheatsville. The popcorn tofu is amazing, but I am starting to think it's the bread that really does it for me. I love a good crusty, chewy baguette.

For dinner I made a quick curry -- quick thanks to the Minute rice and Seeds of Change jalfrezi simmering sauce that I used. I sauteed some tofu and added some cubed baked sweet potato, spinach from our garden, frozen peas, and sauce, and simmered it all together for ten minutes. The Seeds of Change sauce was on sale at the store so I picked up a jar. I might try their other flavors but I don't think I would buy the jalfrezi again. It's vegan and organic, which is great, but it was kind of lacking in the flavor department.

I also made a loaf of chocolate chip banana bread, recipe from 1000 Vegan Recipes, to use up some bananas that were turning mushy.  This is the best banana bread recipe I've ever tried. So good with a smear of Earth Balance.

And the day's eating is not quite done yet. Now I am going to make popcorn for my freshly bathed little ones.

Have a good night!

Friday, February 24, 2012

'Eat, Drink & Be Vegan' Review

This week I made a few recipes from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Although this cookbook has been around for awhile, I just recently picked up a copy. So far, I am really enjoying the results. I like that she uses wholesome, natural ingredients. Not a lot of processed foods, white flour or white sugar.

One night I made the Thai Chick-un Pizza. Look how pretty! And so delicious. All the flavors of Thai food -- ginger, cilantro, peanut sauce -- atop a pizza crust. So clever.

One night I made this simple Lemon Garlic Pasta. It's done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. You can't really see them in this photo, but there are a ton of toasted pine nuts in there. Tony and I were liberal with the crushed red pepper flakes on our servings. The kids liked it as-is.

Finally, One Wild Chick Soup. I assume this is based on the popular chicken and wild rice soup. I used to have a couple of coworkers who were obsessed with that soup. I've never eaten it, personally. But I enjoyed this version, especially the chewy texture of the wild rice.

Spring is here, and we love being able to spend lots of time outdoors. But sometimes the results can be messy. This is what happens when I say, "Hey Jackson, why don't you play in the backyard for a few minutes while Mommy finishes making dinner."

It's OK, we just hose them down. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

National Chili Day

Apparently today is National Chili Day. Here is a batch I made with French lentils, topped with oyster crackers and a sprinkling of shredded cheddar. I always enjoy a good bowl of veggie chili. Do you have a favorite chili recipe?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Date Night

On Saturday evening, Jackson's school held a babysitting fundraiser, so Tony and I were able to drop off the kids and enjoy a few precious hours of "Couple Time." 

Since I knew we were going out for dinner, I had a light lunch that day -- Sabra roasted pine nut hummus with carrot sticks and pita chips. Well, I'm not really sure how "light" it was, considering I polished off half the tub of hummus. Oh Sabra, why must you put crack in your hummus?

For dinner, we headed to NXNW, a restaurant/brewery we had heard good things about. To start with, we had goat cheese crostini with roasted garlic cloves.

I love roasted garlic. I felt kind of bad for the server, who had to pick up three bulbs of roasted garlic and squeeze them over our crostini with her hand while we watched. I sat there thinking, "We could have done that!" I was imagining her hands smelling like garlic for the rest of her shift. But you know, some restaurants like to make a big deal of doing things "tableside."  She was probably used to it.

For my entree I had the roasted veggie pizza. It came topped with red peppers, red onion, eggplant, pesto, and feta cheese. It was great -- the crust was perfect, nice and chewy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras! Even though we are not in New Orleans, we made some special recipes to celebrate.

First I made the Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta from Veganomicon.

Rather than the olive salad in Isa's recipe, which I'm sure is delicious, I used this mix from Central Grocery in New Orleans to make it a little more "authentic." We got a jar for Christmas.

The result -- pretty good, but I think I used the wrong kind of bread. It started getting soggy after a few hours. Next time I will buy a sturdier loaf. Then I will be able to let it sit longer, allowing the olive flavors to seep into the bread without making it all goopy.

I also made Gumbo Z, from Vegan Soul Kitchen. With four different types of greens, how could this be anything but a winner? Delicious.

I was also going to make a king cake -- there's a great-looking recipe in Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations -- but after Valentine's Day, I find that I am burnt out on sweets.  I haven't wanted anything sugary in the past several days. Since Tony doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, I decided to skip the king cake. But let me know if you made one! I've never had one, and they look so good.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Day

I wish Tony was off work today, but he had to go in. So we had our family fun yesterday. First we went for a nice walk. Jackson wanted to push Olivia in the stroller.

When we passed by the fire station, he quickly forgot about pushing the stroller. He is fascinated by any vehicle with a siren.

We came to a strange sculpture, placed right in the middle of an intersection. The kids loved climbing on it. We thought it was an octopus...or maybe a spider? This is something I love about Austin. "Stick a giant sparkly spider thing in the middle of the street? Yes! Let's do it!"

I really didn't mean to give Jackson horns in this pic, haha.

Next we went to a park with a nice playground.

Finally we ate dinner at one of my favorites, Magnolia. I would eat there all the time if we lived closer. Unfortunately we are in another part of town these days. It is a special treat now. Olivia and I shared the Love Veggies. It's a big plate of veggies and rice, cooked in a garlic sauce. Zucchini, green pepper, onions, summer squash, mushrooms, and spinach. So good.

It looks like our winter is over for this year. That's fine with me. I love springtime. I can't believe we have been back in Austin almost a year. At the time, we thought moving back would make our lives perfect. That was silly -- there are always challenges. I had a couple of really rough months dealing with illnesses, anxiety, loneliness, and family drama.  But as spring arrives, things are definitely looking up. We are all in good health, I've made some friends in our new part of town, and Jackson and Olivia have been thriving in their new surroundings. Can't ask for much more than that. Now I am ready for some lovely spring weather and many more days spent outside with my three favorite people.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Many Faces of Orzo

Yesterday afternoon I had to get groceries and run some other errands, so I did not feel like rushing home to cook dinner. Instead, we went to Souper Salad. It's a good place to eat with little kids because they can get all their favorite finger foods from the buffet. And they have compartmentalized trays to keep it all separate, which is becoming very important to someone.

Salad is a rare sighting on these pages, I know. But every so often, I do crave one.

This morning I had hemp granola mixed with Kashi blueberry flakes. Do you use hemp products in your cooking? I just picked up a used copy of Dreena Burton's Vive le Vegan and she has a whole section on cooking with hemp, but I'm not really familiar with it. I like the nutty flavor of this granola, though.

For tonight's dinner I wanted to make the Orzo Pilaf with Tofu Feta from Vegan on the Cheap. However, a thing of orzo at my supermarket was nearly $8. I don't know if it was organic or flecked with 14k gold or what, but it was the only kind of orzo they had, and I wasn't paying that.

Luckily, I saw this...

I checked the ingredients on this bag of "rosamarina" pasta against the orzo and, yep, it's the same thing. And it was $1. Dinner was a go.

I made the tofu "feta" a few days earlier and let it soak in the olive oil/lemon juice marinade that gives it its tangy flavor. So this dinner took all of 20 minutes to make, including boiling the pasta water. And it was yummy. The orzo was a bit messy for Jackson and Olivia to eat.  Bigger pasta shapes could be substituted if you're feeding this to small children. I would bring this to a potluck -- it's great at room temperature.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nacho Bar

The rationale for tonight's meal was that I wanted nachos, but bars are the only places to get good nachos with all the fixins that I like, and I can't take my kiddos to a bar. So we 
made our own nacho assembly line.

From top to bottom: TVP taco meat, vegan Rotel queso, scallions, sour cream, chickpea "refried beans," Tony's salsa, guacamole, and lettuce.
I forgot to set out the pickled jalapenos, but I threw some of those on, too, after I took this picture.

Super short post today -- Olivia is starting her potty training, so I'm getting my exercise taking her to the bathroom every 10 minutes. She thinks it's fun!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Our Valentine's Day was busy and festive. Jackson had a party at his school. He came home with a sack full of treats and cards from his little friends (awww!)  Our playgroup also had a party, which I attended with Olivia.

I made a couple of things for the parties. First, chocolate cookie balls. I see cake and cookie balls everywhere these days and I wanted to try my hand at making them. I used this recipe and it was incredibly easy. Got lots of compliments on these.

I also made the Garden Rotini Salad with Inner Goddess Dressing from Vegan on the Cheap. It is a favorite in our house, and I got a few requests for the recipe.

Since Valentine's Day is all about love, I thought it was only fitting to prepare the one dinner Tony and I love above all others -- the Vietnamese Seitan Baguettes with Savory Broth Dip from Veganomicon.

Heart-shaped straws added to our modest weeknight festivities. (Don't worry, Tony and I are going to have a date night, too, but we have to wait until this weekend!)

After dinner, we allowed the kids to dive into their goodie bags. My little sweethearts bypassed the traditional candy conversation hearts and went straight for the giant, heart-shaped marshmallow Peeps.

Hope you had a love-ly day, too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Enoteca Vespaio

This weekend we headed down to our old neighborhood for lunch. We had a craving for some Enoteca Vespaio. Actually, we had a craving for one particular dish on their menu. Suppli!

Suppli are breaded, fried balls of risotto that have a piece of cheese stuffed into them. So when you cut into them, they are a hot, gooey mess. They come covered in red sauce and they are heavenly. We got two orders -- one for us, one for the kids!

Oh, we got some other stuff too. Margherita pizza with tons of fresh basil...

Pasta for the kids...Olivia preferred to eat hers one strand at a time.

I just liked this picture of Jackson. He looks like he's in the middle of telling a funny story...which he usually is. 

For dessert, we ordered macarons. Aren't they cute? These French cookies (yep, French cookies at an Italian restaurant, don't ask me) are delicious. They just melt in your mouth.

Tony sort of looks like he wants to kill his macaron, but he is really examining it closely to try to figure out how it can be so awesome.

Of course the kids approved.

Have you had macarons? I'm dreaming of them now. They sound like they are really difficult to make, but I feel like I have to try.