Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had Thanksgiving dinner #1 last Sunday with my parents, before they went out of town for the rest of the month.

I attempted to prepare a homemade Tofurkey, using the Tofu Roast recipe from La Dolce Vegan. It fell apart while roasting. It still tasted fine, but the presentation left something to be desired. I think next year I'll just part with the $7.99 for a store-bought Tofurkey. I've never had one, so it will be something new. And hopefully, it won't explode in the oven.

The side dish of honor was two pounds of Brussels sprouts. I've always kept it simple, roasting them with olive oil, salt and pepper, but this year I did a Dijon mustard-maple syrup glaze. Very nice, and Jackson and Olivia were popping them like candy.

I classily ate off a paper plate, since we only have five dinner plates and there were six of us. Alongside the tofu and Brussels, I had mashed potatoes with Bangers and Mash Gravy from the 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe, only with the onions strained out. I like the onion flavor but I prefer a smooth gravy.

For dessert, I made a cheater banoffee pie; I used a jar of dulce de leche, rather than boiling the cans of sweetened condensed milk to make my own toffee. Still tasty.

After the feast, a visit to Zilker Park to play on the old-timey firetruck.

This natural spring, located just to the side of the playground, is home to an endangered blind salamander. We didn't see any. They are pretty tiny, and you're not allowed to get very close.

Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013


We recently headed up to Georgetown, where my parents live, to attend Airfest with them. We walked around the airport grounds, checking out all the planes and helicopters on display.

The kids were allowed to test-pilot a few of them.

We saw a flyover.

The flyover inspired Jackson to do a little flying of his own.

All that zooming around (and standing around eating kettle corn, for the rest of us) really works up an appetite. For dinner, we had rotini with basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and some mushrooms Tony marinated in red wine.

We also snacked on the Cranberry Almond Loaf, from Ripe from Around Here. I've had this cookbook for awhile and I'm just now coming to love it. This loaf turned out wonderfully moist and cakelike, with just a slight sweetness to offset the tartness of the cranberries. I'll definitely be trying out more of Jae Steele's recipes in the near future.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Burgers and Soba

Hi guys, sorry for the brief absence. Jackson was sick, and that means more time cuddling on the couch and less time writing blog posts. He's doing fine now, though, so I'm getting caught up.

Yesterday we enjoyed an unseasonably warm 80-degree day by having lunch at Hat Creek Burgers, which we love because of their great play area.

Veggie burger and fries...I love their veggie burger because it's made with wild rice, which has a chewy, al dente texture.

For a light dinner, I made Ginger Bok Choy and Soba from Appetite for Reduction. I think this was my first time eating soba noodles, and I really liked them. And every time I eat bok choy, I always have the same thought -- "I need to eat more bok choy!" The recipe isn't heavily seasoned, but Isa says to serve with sriracha and soy sauce to taste. I opted for sambal oelek, my current obsession, in place of the sriracha. Amazing goodness in this bowl.

See you next week, have a great weekend!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pizza and Play

Today we met a friend and her little boy for lunch at Austin's Pizza. Jackson and Olivia come for the playscape...

I come for the pizza rolls, filled with spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese.

They were filling, and so was the black olive pizza that the kids shared. So for dinner, I made smoothies, which we ate in bowls at Jackson's request. In an effort to consume more smoothies, I picked up the book 365 Vegan Smoothies, by Kathy Patalsky. This is the Cinnamon Fudge Shake, made with frozen bananas, soy yogurt, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and almond butter. Tastes just like melted chocolate ice cream.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Two Meals Out

Here are a couple of recent restaurant meals...first, lunch with my parents at Austin Terrier. We shared the trio of fries -- regular, sweet paprika, and truffle parmesan.

I had the half soup/half sandwich lunch deal. The Toro sandwich, with broccoli, mushrooms, sprouts, melted provolone, and pesto mayo, could have used a punch of flavor. The same can't be said about the tomato basil soup; it was wonderful. Big, bright flavors.

Next up, our first visit to Buenos Aires Cafe. We started with garlic and herb-marinated olives. I was surprised to see bright red olives. 

We also shared the provoleta, grilled provolone cheese with oregano. 

I had the gnocchi quartet, a sampler of four gnocchi flavors: pumpkin-cinnamon, sweet potato-chipotle, cilantro-jalapeno, and herbed potato. The pumpkin was my favorite, very autumnal. Couldn't really taste the chipotle in the sweet potato gnocchi. The cilantro-jalapeno ones had a nice amount of heat. The gnocchi were served over sauteed green beans, red peppers, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts and dressed with basil oil and parmesan. 

The chimichurri sauce was the bomb. It came with Jackson and Olivia's empanadas, but I was scooping it into my bread, my gnocchi, whatever would hold it. Love me some chimichurri.

I've already given you most of our Halloween recap, but I came across some pics of trick-or-treating at Tony's work and I thought I'd share them.

His company put a lot of effort into making it fun for the kids. Check out this sweet robot handing out candy.

Olivia really wanted to get her hair colored.

A witchy version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Happy Halloween, one last time!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Over the weekend, we headed down to San Marcos for a tour of Aquarena Springs. Once an aquatic amusement park complete with mermaids and a swimming pig, it's now home to a modest museum that shows the history of the springs...

...including some of its creepiest inhabitants.

The shell of a Texas river cooter...yes, I had to take this picture because I am twelve.

Whoever invented the penny cyclone is a genius who knows how to entertain children for minutes on end.

Once we used up all our pennies, we headed down to the dock and boarded the glass bottom boat for a tour of the springs.

Remnants of the old amusement park line the shore.

But the true scenery is all underwater.

Bubbling sand, tiny fish, and turtles everywhere!

The boat tour was half an hour, just the right amount of time to entertain Jackson and Olivia without any maritime shenanigans. Afterwards we stopped for dinner at Souper Salad. Cheap, fairly healthy (vegan cornbread!), and the kids love it because they offer unlimited quantities of chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and olives. Finger food heaven.

In other news, my first batch of kombucha is underway! I brewed the tea and added the scoby. Now it must feed!

Monday, November 11, 2013

More Isa Does It and the Zoo

I can't stop cooking from Isa Moskowitz's new Isa Does It cookbook! Everything has been a winner so far.

Carrot Cake Pancakes. These are really thick, puffy pancakes. So good.

Tofu Mushroom Stroganoff. The cashew cream sauce is so creamy and thick. Total comfort food.

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Penne with Broccoli. I used rotini (because I accidentally used up the penne in the stroganoff.) Sorry for the crappy pic -- I think I left the flash on. This was a big hit with my broccoli-loving children (although they picked out the onions.)

Olive Angel Hair with Seared Brussels Sprouts. This wasn't a hit with Jackson and Olivia, but I freaking loved it. I used 16 oz. of brussels instead of 8 oz., because brussels = awesome.

Finally, Acorn Squash Risotto with Cranberries. It doesn't get any more autumnal than this, folks.

Today we visited the zoo (which is actually an animal sanctuary) with my friend Carey and her son. Feeding the animals is the kids' favorite part, so we did that first.

Jackson was a little timid about letting the deer lick food out of his hand. "It tickles!"

The llama was acting a little funny, stamping his foot and grinning at us. We were afraid he was going to spit at us. It turned out he was just jealous that the deer was getting more food than him.

When we were eating lunch, Olivia was nervously guarding her sandwich from a peacock who was lurking around her feet. "Don't worry, honey, it's not going to jump up on the table," I said. And then this happened. Shows how much I know!

A nice time with our animal friends.