Thursday, May 31, 2012

Counter Culture

The other day I took the kids to eat lunch at Counter Culture, in East Austin. Counter Culture started out as a food trailer and recently opened as a sit-down restaurant. It's super cute -- you can see a picture here. Aqua is my favorite color, so it goes without saying I am in love with their decor.

All the food is vegan, and there are several raw options. We ordered two raw entrees to share. Each entree comes with a choice of two sides.

Pesto "Rawviolis" -- the raviolis are made from thinly sliced jicama and filled with cashew cheeze. The pesto topping was amazing! It has a totally intense basil flavor. I loved this dish so much. Olivia devoured the raw kale salad. It's called Pac-Man salad because the carrot slices are cut to look like little Pac-Man faces. Cute! There was also a side of quinoa salad -- quinoa with nuts and raisins mixed in. 

Raw Pad Thai -- the "noodles" are made from kelp, a sea vegetable. I had never heard of kelp noodles. Apparently, they are very low in calories. I wouldn't have known this unless I looked it up, because this dish was filling. In addition to the noodles, there were scallions, cilantro, sunflower seeds, and various greens. The sides were garlicky greens and roasted sweet potatoes.

Everything was so delicious! I can't wait to go back and eat there again.

This morning we had some friends over to play. I served some kid-friendly snacks. We had hummus with baby carrots and pita chips, and I made these easy sugar-free lemon-coconut balls.

I also made the chocolate chip banana bread from 1000 Vegan Recipes. Best banana bread ever, hands down!

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Here's a few recent eats that didn't make into other posts.

 Tony's been after me to try Tacodeli, where he occasionally grabs lunch with his coworkers. After being married to me for this long, he knows what I'll like. So one day, after tumbling class, I stopped by with the kids. It was kind of a madhouse. It's popular with office workers, so there was a lot of rushing in and out, and it was loud. Not the best place to dine with kids right at the noon hour. That's why we got our tacos to go.

Tacodeli offers seven different vegetarian tacos, and we tried three of them. The Florentino, a spinach taco, was yummy, and what could be healthier than a whole wheat tortilla full of sauteed spinach? The veggie taco, containing carrots, onion, celery, zucchini, and cabbage, was all right. It felt slightly weird to be eating celery and cabbage on a taco. Just an odd taste. Our favorite was the Papadulce, filled with roasted sweet potato and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). It was also the most filling of the three. I need to remember to make some sweet potato tacos at home one of these days. Good stuff.

Hummus with chipotle chili powder. Smoky and spicy!

Mushroom risotto. I sauteed the mushrooms in Earth Balance and garlic, then gave them a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Steamed snap peas. I don't know why I never tried giving these to the kids before! They loved them! A sprinkle of sea salt was all they needed.

Zevia cola was on sale at Natural Grocers. I'd never tried it before. I drink caffeine-free Diet Coke on occasion -- no more than one a day, but I know it's still not the best habit. So I wanted to try a natural alternative. Zevia is super good! To me it tastes like Diet Coke with a squirt of lemon. I like it better than the Diet Coke, actually, so maybe it'll be an easy switch.

To celebrate the launch of her new website, Robin Robertson is giving away five of her awesome cookbooks. Check out her new site and enter to win by 5/28!

We're just having a little sprinkler fun this morning. How's your weekend going?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pecan Street Festival

Every May (and September), Austin holds its Pecan Street Festival downtown. 6th Street (which used to be called Pecan Street, hence the name of the festival) is closed to traffic and filled with artists' booths.  

Before heading downtown, we ate lunch at the wonderful Curry in Hurry. Yes, that is the correct name. Maybe they were in such a hurry, they left out the "a"? It doesn't matter. The food is awesome. In my opinion, it's the best Indian food in Austin. Curry in Hurry (fun to say, fun to type) is located in an unassuming little strip mall, next to an Indian grocer and a BBQ place. You go in and point to what you want, or you can get a daily special plate that includes a little bit of almost everything.

Clockwise from top: excellent chickpeas in a tomato sauce...spring roll...tamarind dipping sauce...awesome curry with green beans, peppers, and chunks of paneer cheese...bread...the best vegetable rice...square of fudge. This pic is making me hungry for this plate of food all over again.

I selected this basil seed drink from the cooler, unsure what to expect. Imagine you are drinking a glass of honey with tiny seeds in it. The honey is ever so slightly watered down...but not much. That's how thick and viscous this stuff was. I guess it's an acquired taste. Basil seeds are supposed to aid digestion and help you feel full, similar to chia seeds I guess. Whatever. We passed it around and tried to finish it, but did not succeed.

Off to the festival! We took the commuter train downtown. This was Jackson and Olivia's first time riding the train. Mine, too.

Jackson lives for trains. He wants to ride the train everywhere now. I had to explain to him that it only goes downtown. Not to the supermarket or the playground. Although, that would be nice.

I was impressed with the train. It was clean and comfortable. For all of us, the total cost to ride was $4 round-trip. Good luck finding parking downtown for that cheap. And of course you're also saving gas and wear on your car.

The festival was packed!

It always feels strange to be on 6th St. during the daytime. So wholesome!

Well, you get the idea. We only stayed about an hour because it was hot and Jackson kept asking to ride the train again.

I went grocery shopping after we got home. Never grocery shop when you're hungry. If you do, this ends up looking like a great dinner idea.

All the food groups represented...oh, wait. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Day of School

I can't believe Jackson's first year of school has come to an end. Next year he will be in pre-K, then kindergarten...then off to college before we know it! Okay, maybe not quite that fast. But it's still a reminder of how fast he is growing up. This is Jackson on his first day of school back in September. 

And this is him on the last day of school. His legs touch the ground now!!

We had a celebratory lunch at Vivo.  I had a big salad with jicama, cotija cheese, avocado, and pumpkin seeds. The chile-lime vinaigrette was wonderful.

Sorry for the crappy pics. It was really dark inside the restaurant. Jackson also enjoyed a salad along with his beans and rice. My boy loves salad!

The service was slow, but the food was good. The salsa is awesome.  I'd go back and try it again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Graduation Day

Jackson's off school for a few weeks before his summer session starts. Before school let out, we attended the pre-K graduation ceremony. Jackson is not in pre-K yet, but the younger children were included in the ceremony. They learned a couple of songs to sing for the graduating class.

Jackson was uncharacteristically shy about previewing the songs for us at home, so I was excited to see him sing.

OK, well, I don't know how much he actually sang. He mouthed at least some of the words, I know that much. And I know that next year, when it's Jackson's turn to march in his cap and gown (yes, they had tiny caps and gowns!) and receive his diploma, I better remember to bring my Kleenex.

Pinterest is making it really easy for me to keep track of recipes I find online and want to try. Here's one recent find -- Chewy Cherry Almond Granola Bars from Iowa Girl Eats. I subbed agave syrup for the honey, walnuts for the pecans, and chia seeds for the sesame seeds. Fantastic! I love the rich cherry almond flavor.

If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest, here I am.

I recently purchased some Groupon-type deal that offered a super-cheap subscription to Vegetarian Times. I feel such nostalgia while looking through this magazine. Years ago, when Tony and I first moved in together, I had a subscription. Up until then, I had pretty much lived on Subway and Taco Bell. Cooking seemed daunting because I didn't keep a stocked pantry. So when I would look at a recipe, I wouldn't have a single ingredient on hand.  I'd think, "I don't have enough money to buy all those things, just to make this one meal!" But little by little, I stocked my kitchen. Once a week, I would make my grocery list and go shopping. Then, each weeknight, I'd come home from my first full-time job out of college, and I would cook dinner for us. I felt like such a grown-up, haha! I swear, if it wasn't for Vegetarian Times and 30-Minute Meals, I never would have learned how to cook! 

From the June issue, I made the Za'atar and Goat Cheese Tartines, topped with tomato and arugula. I love spicy arugula!

I also made the Roasted Cauliflower with Ras El Hanout. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend. I had high hopes as I prepared the spice blend. The cauliflower smelled wonderful as it baked. But then the end result was totally bland. I don't know what happened. Oh well -- at least the tartines were winners!

Do you subscribe to any cooking magazines?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Checking In

Hey y'all, I know I haven't been around much. Blame Game of Thrones. Tony and I started watching it and now I'm hooked. Whenever the kids nap or go to bed early, instead of writing blog posts, I've been glued to the TV. I still have a few more episodes of the first season to go and then I'm going to start reading the books.

This weekend I went to the Renegade Craft Fair and blew a little cash on myself. We all need to do that once in awhile, right?

I can't wait to wear my new shirt.

I also bought a mermaid necklace and a hair clippy.

I liked that a lot of the sellers this year were local. I bought a little vial of lovely perfume oil from one of them.

I adore perfume oils. Back when I was employed, before Olivia was born, I spent loads of money feeding my perfume habit. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is my favorite. It doesn't really fit in our budget these days, but luckily I built up quite a stash that I'm still working my way through.

We also cooked out this weekend. While Tony manned the grill, I made fried green tomatoes. Actually they were oven-baked.

We had veggie burgers topped with grilled onions, grilled corn on the cob with Veganaise, chili powder and lime, collard greens, and the fried green tomatoes.

I think this was Olivia's first time eating corn on the cob. She thought it was really fun.

For dessert, I made chocolate mousse using silken tofu and chocolate hemp protein powder. I layered it with organic strawberries.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paleteria La Selva

After spending the morning at the playground, the kids and I cooled down with some sweet treats from Paleteria La Selva, a little Mexican-style ice cream parlor. They have over 30 flavors of paletas, or popsicles. There was every fruit flavor you can think of -- guava, papaya, grape, etc. -- and even some savory flavors, like cucumber-chili. We tried the strawberry, Mexican vanilla, and chocolate flavors.

They were so good. Can't wait to go back and sample the other varieties.

When we got home, we made some food to take to a friend who just had a baby. I made the Almost-Instant Chickpea Tomato Soup from Vegan on the Cheap...

...and the Peanut "Better" Cookies from Vive le Vegan. I "had" to eat one of the cookies to make sure they turned out okay, and honestly, these are the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had! They have a wonderful chewy texture and they look adorably retro, with their little fork tine indentations.

Finally, we made an exciting purchase at Home Depot -- a new grill! Tony is so proud of his new baby. It is half charcoal and half gas. I know we will get a lot of use out of it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

If you're looking for a last-minute sweet treat to make for your mom, may I suggest some Banana Split Bites. I made these with Jackson and Olivia and they only take a few minutes to assemble. If you don't have mini cupcake liners like the recipe suggest, no sweat, just lay out the fruit on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper before you spoon the chocolate over it. After the chocolate hardens, the treats will peel right off the parchment.

Jackson made me some presents at school. He painted a little wooden box and glued jewels on it. Inside was a picture of him and a rock with googly eyes that he also painted. I am such a sucker for anything made by my kids.

Of course, my best Mother's Day present is the one I receive every day -- the love of these two awesome little humans.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bird Watchers

This morning I made some "binoculars" for Jackson and Olivia. After breakfast, we went out in the backyard and did some birdwatching.

Scanning the trees...

He's spotted something!

Later we snacked on some Bora Bora bars that I found on sale at Sprouts. Bora Boras are one of my favorite bars.

For dinner I made the Fork and Knife Reubens from American Vegan Kitchen.

The dressing was yummy, but I didn't care for the seitan. It had too much of a moist, "meaty" texture. It's just a personal thing. I like seitan when it's kind of dry and tough, or else sliced very thinly and sauteed until crisp. I don't like it so much when it is trying to resemble actual meat. Tony the meat-eater, on the other hand, really enjoyed it.

Do you like meat substitites that are like real meat?