Friday, January 31, 2014

Pet Sounds

After a few cold days, it warmed up enough for Jackson, Olivia and me to take a field trip to Laguna Gloria, a villa-turned-museum that occasionally hosts art installations on its well-kept grounds.

The laguna.

The villa. You have to pay admission to enter, but the grounds are free.

We admired the fountains, but didn't go inside.

The purpose of our visit was to check out the Charles Long exhibit, Pet Sounds, named after a Beach Boys album, but with a literal meaning in this case. When you pet these colored blobs, they make strange noises, bleeps and bloops.

The kids were timid at first, but then they thought it was good fun.

They decided that each sculpture was an animal. This one was "Purple Cow."

Art you can touch -- totally suited to kids.

Dinner was Ranch Salad with Red Potatoes & Smoky Chickpeas from Isa Does It. I may end up cooking through this entire volume eventually, because everything is so dang good.

Avocado-ranch dressing and breaded tofu make this salad rich and satisfying.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brussels that Rock

Every so often, Jackson will select a couple of the finest rocks from our backyard and bring them inside for him and Olivia to paint.

Sometimes, Olivia would rather paint other things. "These are my princess gloves," she informed me.

For lunch we shared a heapin' bowl of Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Pecans from Cookin' Crunk.  You know we love our Brussels. I used half of a 2-lb. bag of Brussels from Costco. The remaining pound will be getting similar treatment in a day or two, because we all loved this way of preparing them. Savory and sweet, always an excellent flavor combination.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day 2014

Snow in Austin? It's rare, but it happened!

Jackson and Olivia were thrilled when they woke up, looked outside, and saw the white stuff on the ground. We only got maybe a quarter-inch, but it was enough for them to bundle up and run outside.

Jackson set to work forming tiny snowballs. We couldn't find his gloves, so mine were substituted.

Olivia was more interested in taste than function.

Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu from Isa Does It. Another winner from Isa. The oil-free pesto seemed too watery at first, and I was worried it wouldn't stick to the pasta and cauliflower. But I set it in the fridge for 30 minutes and it firmed up to just the right consistency.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mole Enchiladas

Yesterday was a quiet day around the house. Too cold to play outside, and the kids are fighting seasonal allergies. We made a pile of pillows and blankets and cuddled up to watch a good movie (Brave.)

For dinner I made mole enchiladas, using the mole recipe from Viva Vegan. I bought Ibarra Mexican chocolate to crumble into the sauce. I'm excited to use the leftover chocolate disks to make Mexican hot cocoa.

A bed of crispy lettuce provided a nice contrast to the melt-in-your-mouth cheese enchiladas.

Cuddle buddies.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Multitasking Astronauts

Whenever we visit the McKenna Children's Museum in New Braunfels, Jackson and Olivia head straight for the astronaut costumes.

Were you aware that child astronauts do more than conduct space missions? They are also trained paramedics.

And NICU nurses.

Even surgeons.

Some child astronauts work day jobs as bank presidents. Impressive time-management, no?

Not many people know this, but there is also a rare breed of child astronaut known as the bat-stronaut. Long a part of cryptozoological lore, I was able to visually confirm the bat-stronaut's existence.

Dinner was Chandra Malai Kofta from Isa Does It. Malai kofta is one of my favorite dishes at the Indian buffet -- veggie balls in a rich cream sauce. Isa's version, with balls made from chickpeas and zucchini, then breaded in panko and pan-fried, definitely holds its own. The cream sauce was heavy on the ginger; I'd cut down on it next time, but the kofta balls held together well and had big, savory flavor.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Music Lovers

This morning we attended a free music class. Olivia jumped right in.

Jackson took a bit longer to warm up. For being such a little clown, he suffers from the occasional bout of stage fright.

But by the end of class, he was lying on his tummy right in front of the teacher, hanging on every word.

For dinner I had some fontina cheese to use up, left over from my New Year's Eve arancini. So I made baked rotini, using my beloved Costco-brand marinara sauce. I even used my demon-broiler to get the top all bubbly. Easy comfort food.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


One cold and rainy Sunday, we bundled up and headed to The Parlor for an early lunch. While we waited for our pizza to cook, the kids received some pool lessons.

Olivia nibbled on garlic bread during Jackson's turns.

The Parlor has all kinds of vegan faux meats that I should've tried, but Tony was dubious, and since we were sharing a pizza, we went for a veggie option: the Gunnar, loaded with artichoke hearts, spinach, raw garlic, and jalapenos. What a killer combination of toppings! And what killer breath we all had!

We found some relief in our beverages, from local brewery Adelbert's.

By the time we finished eating, the weather had improved considerably, to the point where Tony and I could tolerate standing around outside while the kids played in snow. Since the polar vortex avoided Texas altogether, snow was on hand only because the Galleria shopping center imported several tons of the white stuff.

Unlike last year's snow day, when Olivia wanted nothing to do with the cold, wet substance, she got right in there.

Slushy feet, numb fingers, big grins.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recent Eats

Just a rundown of some recent tasty dinners, before I forget where I got 'em from.

Stir-fry with hoisin-marinated tofu, broccoli, carrots and green beans, served over brown rice. All my favorite veg in one stir-fry...if only I'd thought to add Brussels sprouts!

Creamy Florentine Soup from The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe -- chock full of vibrant green spinach, and so delicious.

Scrambled Tortillas from Vegan Brunch. We loved the sauce, but the tofu and tortillas were mushy. Tony described a similar (non-vegan) baked dish he'd had, where the tortillas were layered on top so they had a chance to crisp up. I might try it like that some time.

Tofu Baked in an Olive, Grape and Herbed Marinade served over Creamy Polenta, from Let Them Eat Vegan. Isn't is gorgeous? The roasted grapes make it seem fancy. 

BLAT's with Light Life Smart Bacon, Veganaise, avocado, tomato and lettuce, on Kaiser rolls. My love affair with this sandwich never ends.

Veggie Pot Pie from La Dolce Vegan. An old favorite, not much to look at, but I love the buttery crust.

My little pioneers enjoying a sunny afternoon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Going Vegan Testing

Joni Marie Newman's latest, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, just came out (It's awesome!), but she's already prepping her next book, Going Vegan, due out this summer. I've already tested a few recipes, and here are a couple more.

Spaghetti and peas with "Almond-fredo" Sauce -- a creamy, garlicky sauce made with almond meal. Easy and yum.

Chocolate Pudding sweetened with date syrup. It's hard to go wrong with chocolate pudding!

Olivia is the queen of board games. I'm pretty certain that, in this picture, she is beating Tony for the third or fourth time in a row.