Sunday, June 30, 2013

Swimmin' n' Splashin'

I know, that's a lot of apostrophes.

Lunch was a salad composed of romaine lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, mandarin oranges, and Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette from Let Them Eat Vegan. Love the crunchy bits of pecan in that vinaigrette! Panera used to offer this salad, when I was in grad school. I spent many afternoons camped out there, grading papers and munching on yummy salad. It's no longer on their menu; luckily, it's easy to recreate at home.

We enjoyed an afternoon swim at a friend's house.

Dinner was pasta with Romesc-Oat Sauce, also from LTEV, with some homemade faux parmesan sprinkled on top. This sauce wasn't hitting the right notes for me. The oat flavor was too noticeable. Oh well.

After dinner, I spent an hour at the splash pad, thoroughly wearing out these little monkeys.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mayfield Preserve

Today we had a picnic at the Mayfield Preserve. A peacock greeted us immediately as we walked in.

Then a couple of his friends called down to us from their rooftop perch.

We checked out the preserve, which is full of tranquil little fish ponds and easy walking trails.

And peacocks. Mostly, peacocks. I didn't even know peacocks could fly! I thought they were land birds, like penguins. 

One of the trails led down to a little stream.

Hopping from rock to rock, we made our way across.

Our picnic lunch included Blueberry Almond Scones, from 1000 Vegan Recipes. They may not look fancy, but they were delicious.

When we got home, I made a batch of Doritos popcorn. I'm never doing that again. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. Quite the opposite. It's awesome, especially if you like Doritos, which I do. I won't even keep them in the house because they call to me. And so did this popcorn. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another Day, Another Splash Pad

2013 is the summer of the splash pad. Austin has countless to choose from, and there's no better way to spend a couple of hours, slathered in sunscreen, little ones frolicking, and this mama frequently taking a run through herself to cool down.

Perfectly Amazing Pasta Salad from Garden of Vegan for tonight's quick and easy dinner. Hooray for not turning on the oven!  It really does live up to its name. I've made this salad so many times over the years for potlucks and family dinners, and it always gets eaten up!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Phara's Mediterranean Cuisine

Recently I met some friends for dinner at Phara's. Although the restaurant interior is small and dark, it opens onto a large, beautifully decorated patio courtyard, which is where we dined. 

I had the mezze sampler plate, which came with dolmades, tabouli, baba ganoush, hummus, yogurt, and pita bread.  My friend Carey ordered the sampler as well, and we both noticed that the baba ganoush and tabouli both had a slightly sweet, spicy flavor...maybe cinnamon or nutmeg. The hummus was absolutely one of the best I've ever tasted, thick and full of flavor.

A talented belly dancer came out to the courtyard a couple of different times to entertain us. I kind of want to take a belly dancing class now. It looks fun! 

As the sun set, the Moroccan lamps and multicolored Christmas lights strung everywhere created a beautiful, serene atmosphere.

I had only dined at Phara's once before, years ago when it was called by a different name. Tonight's meal showed me that I definitely need to return again soon!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Minestrone and Barley Squares

We spent the day at the Children's Museum. We are definitely getting our money's worth with our membership. No matter how many times we go, Jackson and Olivia always find something new to do and we end up staying for several hours.

Deep in concentration, check out that raised eyebrow!

For dinner I made the Monkey Minestrone from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Yum. This tasted even better than the Complete Italian Vegetarian minestrone recipe I've been using for years and years! I guess this is why I never stop trying new recipes. You never know when you'll come across one that's the best you've ever tasted.

For dessert, I made the Caramel Nut Barley Squares from Whole Grain Vegan Baking. I won this cookbook in Dynise's giveaway and, at her suggestion, this was the first recipe I tried out.  These little bars look so fancy, yet they're made in under an hour. They taste decadent -- a shortbread layer is topped with caramel and nuts, followed by melted chocolate -- yet they're made with barley flour, coconut oil, and brown rice syrup, so they're a fairly healthy dessert. Dynise, thank you for the book, and the suggestion!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crepes with Matcha Cream and Raspberries

This morning I made a special, "treat" kind of breakfast, for no reason really. I made crepes, using the recipe from The Garden of Vegan. For the cream filling, I blended one package of extra-firm silken tofu, one cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. matcha tea powder, and a pinch of salt.  (You can use more matcha tea powder if you want a stronger flavor, but since this was for my kids, I kept it mild.)  I topped the crepes with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar.

These crepes are Olivia-approved.

Friday, June 21, 2013

JuiceLand @ Spiderhouse Cafe

Another morning was spent having fun at the splash pad. 

Olivia loves the water. She stays in for so long that the skin on her fingers and toes get all shriveled.

Jackson prefers to take a quick dip, then move on to the playground.

Afterwards, we visited a place called Spiderhouse Cafe for the first time, were we were welcomed by a half-girl, half-griffin sculpture. This clues you in to what the Spiderhouse's decor will be like.

There was kitschy art and random junk displayed everywhere. I loved it. It's very eclectic and very "Austin." 

Two pianos...why not.

Even the bathroom mirror was decorated.

The little boy peeing into a bathtub was Jackson and Olivia's hands-down favorite. Naturally.

We ordered smoothies from the JuiceLand annex. Spiderhouse serves its own food, mostly sandwiches and breakfast tacos, but there are several little food counters and shops set up on the grounds, offering a variety of dining options. Besides JuiceLand, I noticed a creperie, a Japanese takoyaki bus, a t-shirt shop, and I believe there was even a tattoo parlor.

The kids both requested "strawberry" smoothies. I got Jackson a Home Run with strawberry, banana and apple juice. Olivia had a Berry White, with strawberry, raspberry and pineapple juice. I went with the Vegetable Kingdom, pictured below: carrot, beet, spinach, lemon, mango, cherry, spirulina, apple juice. 

And there's Olivia in the background, still hypnotized by the urinating marble toddler.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Water Blasters

Because splash pads aren't fun enough, we picked up these $3 water blasters on a trip to Target. Best $6 I will spend all summer, I'm guessing.

Easy-peasy dinner -- capellini with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, salt and pepper.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Snails and Nachos

Snails love to congregate in our backyard after a storm.

Big ones, little ones, we find them everywhere.

Olivia gathered up quite a collection. Don't worry, she gently placed them back on the wet grass when she was done counting them!

We had a special treat for lunch today -- nachos! Next to pizza, nachos are my very favorite food. I have a special way of making them. It takes a bit longer, but I like to make sure that every chip receives its share of cheesy goodness. 

First I put down a layer of chips and sprinkle cheese on each one.

Then I put down another layer of chips...

And another layer of cheese.

I bake the chips for about 10 minutes at 350F. Then I add the toppings (tomatoes, olives, roasted broccoli, and pickled jalapenos) and pop it back in the oven for five more minutes so everything is heated through.

Yum! This lunch made me so happy. And if you haven't tried roasted broccoli on nachos, it's the best!