Monday, December 30, 2013

Road Food

Longtime readers probably know, a road trip to Oklahoma almost always involves a pit stop at Fort Worth's all-vegan Spiral Diner. Our Thanksgiving visit was no exception (yep, even though Christmas just passed us by, I'm still getting through some pics from November...hope that's cool with you!)

We started with the "Chip & Dip Party" of salsa, cashew queso, and guac.

Jackson and Olivia alternate between ravenous and peckish days, and this particular day didn't find them super interested in eating. Side dishes, like broccoli and black beans, satisfied their wee appetites.

I tried something new, the Chef's Salad, with grilled tofu, greens, carrots, avocado, olives, tomato, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and ranch. I forgot that SD uses Daiya, but apparently I only hate Daiya if it's melted, since it didn't bother me in this moan-inspiring monster salad.

Tony had the daily special, a baked potato. Can you see a baked potato here? Nope. That's because it was covered in a mammoth helping of Mexican-spiced quinoa, salsa, scallions and sour cream. Imagine eating through all that goodness, and then you have a whole potato to contend with. No snack stops were needed for the remainder of our trip.

We also grabbed a couple of snickerdoodles to bring to Grandma's.

A lovely visit, as always. A cold snap blew into town the first day, which meant new toys were acquired from the Dollar Store.

Eventually it warmed up and we enjoyed a sunny afternoon at the park.

Monster is a good travel companion, but it does tucker him out. Still, he was eager to return at Christmas.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Santa Storytime

Hope you had a lovely Christmas! We just got back from visiting family and we are still getting settled in. 

Before heading out of town, we attended storytime at the rec center with two special guests...Santa and Mrs. Claus!

We started with crafts.

Then, after a story, the kids lined up to discuss their Christmas lists with the big man.

Olivia went into quite a bit of detail.

Afterwards, I made wraps for lunch. The wraps included Baked Falafel from Appetite for Reduction, Tzatziki Sauce from American Vegan Kitchen, Tofu Feta from Vegan on the Cheap, plus lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and kalamata olives. 

The folks at Cocozia sent me a generous sample of their product. I like drinking coconut water from time to time. It's "nature's Gatorade," great for rehydrating after exercise, high in potassium and magnesium. Compared to other brands I've tried, Cocozia has a light, neutral flavor, not super coconutty, and not too sweet, which I appreciate. I'm not looking for a lot of added sugar in my beverages. Cocozia is also organic and non-GMO. I wasn't paid to endorse or review this product, by the way, but I'd have to say it's probably my favorite brand now.

Coconut water makes an excellent, healthful base for fruit smoothies. I blended one up for me and the kids with frozen raspberries and strawberries, acai powder, walnuts, and a handful of kale.  I never thought to throw nuts into a smoothie before, but the walnuts were an excellent addition. Besides being full of heart-healthy fats and protein, walnuts taste great paired with strawberries.

Merry merry!

Monday, December 23, 2013


We have an elf staying with us this month. His name is Ernie. Each morning we find him in the strangest of places.

Well, I shouldn't say every morning. Ernie can be a lazy elf. Last week he stayed in the same spot for three days. Jackson and Olivia wondered if he was sick. But then he showed up with lollipops, so it was okay.

It's too bad we're not allowed to touch Ernie (it will ruin his elf magic), because I'm sure he would love to be spoon-fed some delicious Mocked Clam Chowder from La Dolce Vegan.

The chowder is one of those recipes I'd been meaning to make for ages. Now I know, I was missing out all those years. It's so creamy and comforting, with chunks of kelp-seasoned tofu standing in for the clams. I topped it with homemade croutons left over from making Thanksgiving stuffing, but it would also be great with a hunk of fresh, crusty bread.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tree Farm

Today Olivia and I chaperoned Jackson's annual class trip to the Christmas tree farm. First we decorated pine cones to hang on the school tree.

Olivia is excited to attend school next fall; in the meantime she is thrilled when she gets to be an honorary member of the class.

All aboard the train!

You've heard of dogshaming, how about donkeyshaming?

I love seeing Jackson in a different environment, hanging out with his school buddies. 

They are such goofballs at lunchtime. Poop is a big conversation topic.

Posing with the tree they chose.

I've been baking cookies to give as gifts. First I made some eggnog cookies of the dry and crispy cookie variety.

I prefer soft and chewy cookies. Isa's Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies, from her "Make It Vegan" video series, fit the bill. I love her tip of setting aside some chocolate chips to dot the tops of the cookies with before popping them in the oven. It makes the cookies look much more appealing! By the way, I've also taken a more traditional route and baked these cookies sans rosemary, and they are perfectly delicious (although I prefer the more intriguing, herbal/chocolate variety).

Finally, I need to plug Joni Marie Newman's latest, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen. It's full of goodness. You can check out the recipes I tested.  Gotta love her Thai take on chicken n' waffles! 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Birthday Ramen

I wanted to eat someplace new for my birthday. Tony, lover of all Japanese food, talked me into Michi Ramen. We started with a bowl of salted edamame, Jackson and Olivia's favorite appetizer. It keeps their little fingers busy.

Most ramen bowls are made with pork broth, but Michi offers a vegan bowl as well. It comes with chives, sprouts, cabbage, green onions, and wood ear mushrooms. I added sweet corn and mayu (blackened garlic oil). From first slurp, I was in heaven. The noodles were chewy, springy, perfectly cooked. The broth was hot and delicious. I finished the entire bowl of noodles and veggies, then slurped down the rest of the broth! 

Tony had some kind of pork bowl, and the kids had plain noodles with broth. They love using chopsticks -- they get right in there!

A cute little placard on our table advertised mochi ice cream desserts, so we let Jackson and Olivia each choose a flavor. They went with blueberry and strawberry.

Little scoops of ice cream sealed inside a chewy, glutinous rice package...they had never had anything like it. Instant approval.

"Mom, I love Japanese food!"

After one visit, Michi Ramen is now vying with Elizabeth Street for my favorite Austin restaurant!

On the way home, we swung by Capital City Bakery to pick up some birthday cupcakes. Olivia chose a confetti cupcake, vanilla with vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

Jackson went for one of the seasonal treats, a chocolate cupcake with peppermint buttercream, and candy cane pieces sprinkled on top.

I couldn't pass up an eggnog cupcake. 

I had a lovely birthday, attending a "painting with wine" class with some girlfriends, finishing up all my Christmas shopping and wrapping, and spending lots of relaxing time with my family. Couldn't ask for a better start to 37!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cattle Everywhere

Today the kids and I met up with my friend Meredith for lunch. She is a UT student, so we met her at a food trailer court near campus. I had veggie tacos from Pueblo Viejo. I admit, I'm a bit of a food trailer snob. Sometimes I am impressed, sometimes not. In this case, most definitely impressed. Each taco had different was portabellos, spinach and cheese, while the other was mixed veggies and avocado. Three varieties of salsa were available in squeeze bottles. I would definitely return.

While we ate and chatted, the longhorn watched over us, adorned with a giant 'stache.

Later, we took a little walk and encountered more cows.

Our destination on this walk was a little man-made lake, home to some very aggressive ducks. Luckily, we didn't have any food on us, so we were able to hang out and enjoy the view. The water level was much higher than last time we visited -- we've had lots of rain this fall.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Star Party

One Friday evening, the kids and I attended a star party. No, Kim and Kanye weren't present. But there was an inflatable planetarium, which is probably even better.

Jackson and Olivia had fun trying out a ton of different science experiments. Seriously, there were like fifty different hands-on experiments for kids. This was heaven for Jackson, my tactile learner.

Olivia got right in there, too.

Before the party, we had met up with my parents for dinner at Frank and Angie's. Their pizzas are giant, and loaded with tasty toppings. We ordered the Pavarotti, with portabello mushrooms, pesto, feta, roasted garlic, and big handfuls of fresh spinach thrown on top of it all. You guys, I cannot describe my happiness while I ate this dinner, and also at lunch for the next two days. 

I hadn't had tiramisu in forever, so I ordered a slice to go. It reminds me of the days when Tony and I were dating, and we would go on dinner dates at some nondescript Italian restaurant located next to a highway rest stop in OKC. They had the best food, and we always ordered tiramisu.