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Raving about dinner in an instant

After a super lazy Saturday, I decided to start Sunday off with stroller strides.  That got my day going!  Yowza – the ‘Boost’ Sunday classes are always an insane workout.

I had two muffins for breakfast with cashew butter.  These were almond butter coconut flour ones with dried cranberries.  My friend made a batch of these “paleo” muffins for me back when V broke her femur and I had the last few in the freezer, which saved me since I hadn’t done any prep yet.

For lunch I made a Caesar salad with kale, chicken, and coconut bacon.  AGAIN.

I had some skewers in the freezer that I thawed out just in time.

Tessemae’s Caesar dressing is so so good.  I’m going to have to ask Nugget what the deal is, because I only have two more trips to Fremont in my future (if all goes as planned…) and that means my Whole Foods access is coming to a close too.  Get ready for the waterworks, guys.

I bulked up the leftover quinoa dish from a few days prior for dinner.

Which basically means I massaged more kale with a champagne vinaigrette and then added extra pecans and chevre.

Easy as that!

I was out later than normal the night before because I’m now on the steering committee for our MOPS group and helping out with event planning since one person stepped down.  That’s all to say, I didn’t have any dessert and ended up going to bed a little hungry…which means I woke up veryyyy hungry.  And then after an early morning workout…I was starving!  Carbs!  Stat!

Enter this sweet potato casserole.

I brought a bunch home from Christmas at my parents’ (because it was the best thing on the menu!) and then froze a portion of it right away.  Glad to have it now.  It’s soooo good.  Super comforting and sweet and delicious.  All things you want in a breakfast.

We had originally planned on going to brunch at Pushkin’s since Kyle had the MLK holiday off, but then we looked it up the day before and realized it was closed.  Whoops.  Sweet potato casserole it was!  Too bad since I was realllly looking forward to the coconut yogurt vegan parfait.  That thing is unlike any other.  Moving on.

Look familiar?

I can’t stop making this lunch!

New cookbook alert!

Since this Melissa Clark article is basically what SOLD ME on the instant pot in the first place, I figured it was only right that I buy her book, Dinner In An Instant.  She’s a regular NYT contributor for those who don’t recognize her name, although you should, because I think she’s the new Bittman.  Or at least another Bittman. Anyway.  Her new cookbook is all for electric pressure cookers – focusing not on what the IP CAN do, but what it SHOULD do.  She’s hits it up for it’s strengths, and knows how to write recipes and develop flavors, so of course, I had to see what she had in mind for me and my new kitchen toy.

First up, Vietnamese Caramel Salmon.

D. A. M. N.

This is THE BEST salmon to ever come out of my kitchen.  I’m not kidding.  I’m never making salmon any other way again.

Excuse the hyperbole, but I’m not even sure how to say it any other way.  This caramel sauce was out of this world.


And the best part of all was how easy it was!  And fast!

Totally a weeknight meal.

And the way my kids devoured it is ensuring that it basically will now be a weeknight staple.

Oh!  And Trader Joe’s finally got good salmon!  This fish was from Nugget, but that’s only because I went shopping there first and have never bought fish at TJs before because it always looks so meh.  But now I will!  Because the fish was packaged differently now and looked awesome.  Our bank account is shuttering at this very moment.  Life is short, though, you gotta splurge on something and for me that may have to be salmon.

I served it with rice and roasted asparagus.

We were all fighting over the caramel sauce.  And in case you were wondering, it was super easy to clean up.  The whole recipe is basically 3 steps thanks to the sauté function of the pot.  Sauté, add fish, pressure cook for a minute, remove fish, sauté.  Done.  Drool.

And then I had this.  Kinda an extraordinary food day if I do say so myself.

Brunch and ballet

What I really wanted to do on Friday morning was sleep in, lie around, and do nothing. But my kids were up before the sun, so that was a no go!

V and I hung out while the rest of the house snoozed…until around 6 am when P joined our pre-dawn par-tay.

It’s amazing what you can get done on a phone before the rest of the West Coast is up.  I made Black Friday my b!tch, you guys (even though I was done with my shopping I got things refunded for even lower than the original prices I bought them at).

Because we didn’t have brunch reservations until 10 am, it was a looong morning…good thing I pre-fed them, because we didn’t get our food until 11, so this was basically the kids’ lunch.

The whole crew!

All to celebrate this birthday auntie 🙂

P and V split a kids plate of eggs, bacon, and has browns.  OMG, can we get a veggie up in here sometime soon!?!?

I got avocado toast on GF bread, which came with greens and roasted tomatoes and a soft boiled egg.  It was good, but nothing to go crazy over.  My standard is now of Pushkin’s quality, so nothing in the GF/DF department from elsewhere seems close any more.

Kyle got Huevo Rancheros, which he seemed to really enjoy.  It certainly looks awesome!

After naps, Kyle took V to my old elementary school down the street.  She thinks it’s named after her since we call her Valley.  🙂

Side note: this spider is the size of a leaf.

It’s hard to tell because it’s a blurry picture, but that’s mainly because I didn’t want to get very close to take the photo on account of it being the size of a human.  It felt like it could have reached out and taken a selfie with my phone on it’s own!!!  EEP.

Oh, yeah, I ate lunch again at some point.  Even though I wasn’t really hungry.  Classic Thanksgiving weekend move, amiright?

Apples for all.

And then it was time forrrrrrr….

The Nutcracker!!!  The local kids’ production by the Contra Costa Ballet in Walnut Creek) is always the weekend after Thanksgiving.

He was soooo excited.  Obviously.  And even though he has seen it already (last year) and knows the story and music by heart, he still got VERY worked up at the beginning.  In his defense, we were sitting front row and the mice were huge.   But yeah, his heart was racing and he was shaking, and he’s just so sensitive, he sat on my lap until the battle was done and they were all happily dancing away to the Land of Candy or whatever.

Still not sure if V would be ready for this next year…but I guess we don’t have to make that decision for another 365 days.

Leftovers for dinner!  This was my first time having any turkey.  I prefer dark meat, for sure. That’s the remainder of my salad, in all it’s mushy soggy glory.  You guys know how much I LOVE a day old dressed heap of salad mess.  For reals.  It’s my fave.

At this point we realized P was getting super sick.  Luckily it didn’t kick in earlier!  But as soon as I gave him his peanut dose, he was a full on sinus/cough/sneeze scene.  I gave him Benadryl bc my parents don’t have Zyrtec on hand (our allergists’ preferred rx) and I stupidly forgot all his meds I travel with because we weren’t going to OIT, so it just slipped my mind.  Fail.  I mean, obvs I have 10 epis, but I forgot the inhaler and Zyrtec.  The Bendryl didn’t really do much for his cold, but it definitely made him pass out cold an hour later.  While watching the UCLA v Cal football game.  I had only just given him his milk dose, so it wasn’t ideal timing but I just carried him to bed anyway.  He woke up ever so slightly as I tucked him in to tell me I was carrying him like Clara.  What a sweetie pie.

Speaking of sweet pie.

I had a much more reasonable serving this night, dontcha think?

Kyle had, well….a dinner plate.  I’m not one to judge though, because, you know, glass houses.

It’s a good thing we are married.


I fear my sweet tooth slash sugar addiction is making a return.

Exhibit A: the dessert I had last night that wasn’t enough…so I went back for MORE.  WTF.

I’m not interested in going back to that, so I’m going to preemptively make some changes.  I’m going to think about what I want to do and get back to you guys.  The seasonal treats are fun and all, but lately I don’t even feel good after eating so much sugar on the late night. I barely crave it and then (even AS I’M EATING IT) I think this isn’t doing it for me, why am I having this?  Back when I did my 30 day GI reset I felt so awesome.  I’m going to try to get back to that place…the freedom from the feeling of NEEDING sweets.  It’s too cold for kombucha but a bigger dinner should help.  We will see.  Like I said, I will mull things over first.

I had the rest of the Pushkin’s leftovers for breakfast.

I was so proud of myself for getting a workout in this morning because the kids were up before 6 am and it was raining and yet, I still managed to crush a dvd workout followed by a (very short) jog around the neighborhood.  P and V were fed but we still had a long time to kill before school and I was feeling antsy as hell for some reason.  Then I noticed a little let up in the rain and before I could stop myself told the kids to get in the double for a quick run.  And what do you know – they went for it!  We weren’t out for more than ten minutes before it started coming down too much for my liking but I still got my heart rate up and felt pretty thrilled by the whole thing.

I had the same lunch as the day before with fewer salmon (which is all gone now) and more cashews.  A decent trade off, in my opinion.  😉

The rain held off until after we got home from soccer and after I put out the trash cans which seems like a small thing but is HUGE for me.  Despite what my earlier workout story would suggest, I have no interest in messing around in the rain.  I mean it, I am a total wuss with weather.  I would be here huddled up in a blanket until May if everyone else would be cool with that plan.  Had it been raining I probably would have just skipped garbage day!  Don’t tell Kyle.  Hopefully the rain stops at some point so I can take them back off the curb like a responsible home owner.

We had leftovers for dinner, which was eaten in courses.  They had apples and bell peppers after this, at their request.  I had the last bits of curry short ribs and cornbread. And then the endangered species and divine chocolate bars you see above.  Plus TJs pumpkin caramels and barnana chocolate bites. OOF.

Bears basketball

I’m not an impulsive person, at all, and when our plans for Sunday fell through at the last minute I was okay with having nothingness.  Kyle had a flight that night anyway, so I figured soaking up the time with him and the kiddos together would be best.  But then my dad emailed my on Friday morning asking if we wanted extra tickets to the Cal basketball game on Sunday….and I was kinda tempted to just go for it!  I texted Kyle at work and he was on board and just like that, I made an impulsive decision.  Growth, people.  The craziest part about this plan was not that it was without warning, nor that it was in Berkeley on the same day that Kyle was leaving town for the week…nope.  It was that it was at 1 pm.  Aka nap time.  Sometimes you just have to say yes to live a little.

Breakfast leftovers from the one and only PUSHKIN’S.  Which would be bacon pressed waffles and scrambled eggs with buttah.  They scramble their eggs way better than I can.  I wonder what the secret is.

We did church as a foursome again and lo and behold Valley loved it!  Kyle stayed with her for the first part and then left her and when we came back to get her at the end of service she didn’t want to go!  Major milestone.

I packed them snacks for the drive to the game, and the commute wasn’t too bad since it was a holiday weekend.  We met up with my parents and grabbed food before going to our seats.

So neither of us would feel bad, Kyle and I split nachos and a salad.  I’ll let you guess which tasted better.

The salad was decent to be honest, but hellloooo, guac and chips are never gonna match up.  Kyle is trying to stay healthy with all his travel but some cities make it so hard for him to eat well and that bothers him.  As a result, when he’s home he wants to eat healthy.  But it’s times like these that make it tough.  Because who wants to get veggies when soft pretzels are on the menu?

We had a really fun time.  My kids love my parents, so when you add in a live band and sports, it’s like all their dreams are coming true.  Stimulation and attention up the ^%#&.

Rather than drive home, we went back to my parents’ place for dinner.  Both kids were having a tough time without naps, but P only naps once a week or so, so for him it wasn’t as big of a deal.  Miss V, however, was NOT COPING.  Now I know!  Ha.  She was pretty into snuggles though, which is not typical for her and very enjoyable for everyone else.  It would have been amazing if her mood was better.

He read them a 48 page book and neither of them moved an inch.

We did bath time before dinner so that we could bolt as soon as we had eaten to get home in time for Kyle to get ready for his flight.

V was too grumpy to eat and P was doing face plants in his meal because he couldn’t keep his eyes open.  D’oh!!

In the end, we made it through the meal, but brought home lots of leftovers (including my own – eyes bigger than stomach syndrome).

I finished off mine later that night once we were back in Davis and the kids were in bed.  And now Kyle’s gone and I’m going to do my best to not drown myself in chocolate this week.  Also it’s going to rain, so wish me luck!

Brunch and shopping

Last week I barely held the family’s meals together without menu planning or a real shopping trip.  As a result, we went to all. the. stores. on Saturday.  And while it wasn’t pleasant, it was fine by me because the first part of the day was STELLAR.  The food part, that is.

New things on the Pushkin’s Restaurant menu!

Now that P is able to eat out, it’s fun to spend weekends with all of us together dining at restaurants.  Because we can!  I can’t wait to explore more of Sac.  That said, it’s really hard to go anywhere else besides Pushkin’s because it’s SUCH GOOD FOOD.  And kid friendly.  And reasonably priced.  And gluten free.  And dairy free.  Like, how could we not go here all the time?

We way over-ordered but I do that on purpose because I like taking leftovers home because then I have yummy eats for later breakfasts.

I got the kids the bacon pressed waffles (L) and the two egg plate with hashbrowns and bacon (R) to share.  I was planning on swooping on some of their food, but then my vegan parfait arrived.

GUYS.  I will never order anything else again.  I know it’s hard to fathom – a parfait shouldn’t be as life changing as something else more exotic like chicken and waffles, but it was literally the best breakfast food I’ve eaten in I can’t even tell you how long.  Words will not do it justice.  Because I got the vegan parfait, it uses coconut yogurt and brown sugar instead of honey.  The yogurt was THE thickest and richest and creamiest, without being at all sweet yet still not tangy.  Gahhhh.  So good.  I wish you all could try it.

The granola was awesome too, packed with nuts and seeds and quinoa and highly clustered 🙂

I also got a roll on the side because I was having issues when I was ordering and was worried I wasn’t getting enough carbs.  I ended up polishing off the parfait and saving everything else for later.  I couldn’t stop eating the yogurt and granola!  Dreamy dish.

Kyle got the chicken and waffles.  Thumbs up all around.

After the kids biked to the park with Kyle, they came home asking to bake, so we went for it.

I don’t care that that one of us looking at each other is blurry because of how sweet I think it is.  Man do I love her.

These “cupcakes” had pumpkin, chickpeas, dates, chia seeds, coconut flour and almond flour.

We winged it as far as recipes go and they turned out okay.  I kept them vegan by using the aquafaba from the chickpeas instead of eggs and they are pretty mushy and crumbly, but they seemed to do just fine when eating them.

I treated myself to a prepared salad from Nugget for lunch.  That was store number 1.

I remembered liking this salad when my sister got it for me over the summer when she helped out while V had a broken leg.  I also remembered the salad dressing being amazing.  Spicy in a way that’s juuuust right.  I’m a pansy with spice, and this pushed my limits just a touch more than I’d usually like, but is balanced out with the cool veggies.

It turns out they sell their dressings…so I bought this and added extra to my salad, along with half an avo, and carrots.


Sadly I finished off the rest of the baby carrots, so I had to close out my meal with pickled ones instead.

It did the trick, but I definitely needed to get to Costco stat because a house without baby carrots is no place I want to call home.

Dinner prep!  Kyle went to play golf so I took the down time of naps to make dinner, like I always do.

I wanted to make short ribs in the instant pot, and felt pretty confident that I could get it right because even though Danielle Walker’s recipe was written for a slow cooker, I had already made short ribs in the IP and knew the timing.

I had everything on hand except an onion, so I just subbed in green onions.

Set them to cook and didn’t bother with anything else until dinnertime.  Well, aside from making rice in the rice cooker.

That afternoon we hit up Costco and TJs and by the time we got home it was dark and we were pooped and ready for food!

I needed to make a veg, still, so I just threw broccoli into the IP for 3 minutes.  Done!

Whoaaaaa buddy.

This recipe is a W.I.N.N.E.R.  The curry is an umami explosion of heaven and the tender short ribs completely fall apart with the slightest touch of the fork.  I wasn’t sure how the kids would like the curry, but you better believe they ate it right up.

My kids are so spoiled with their meals, and they don’t even know it.  Like I hardly feel comfortable spending the $$$ for short ribs on myself and they finish off their bowls are are like “more beef please?”

I saved the leftover curry sauce because it seemed way too good to waste, so maybe I can make another dish with it?  Just add a new protein and veggie and it’s reinvented!

I tried a new thing for P’s dairy dose and gave him some greek yogurt as a special treat.  It’s actually nice for me too because it’s less volume and therefore takes him wayyyy less time to consume.  He is crazy slow in taking his milk dose, which is 1/2 cup whole milk, and constantly needs to be reminded to “DRINK!”  He has to finish the dose within a 10 minute time span, which seems easy enough, but ugh.  Anyway, the 1/2 cup whole milk is equivalent to 4 grams of protein, so technically we are allowed to give him whatever form of dairy we want as long as it has 4 grams of protein.  I tried whole milk yogurt once but that took even longer…then I realized that greek yogurt has way more protein.  This whole container had 12 grams or protein, so I used our kitchen scale and weighed out 50 grams of yogurt (1/3 the amount in the container) and gave that to him.  I think he was iffy at first, since he’s never had greek yogurt before and it’s definitely a unique flavor, but seemed to like it more and more as he kept eating.  But the best part of all was that he didn’t have to eat that much to get his full dose in.  Cool!

I totally stuck our Costco list except for ONE item.  Those barnana bites!  They are so good and I had forgotten about them.  This is what happens when you wander down aisles you don’t need to go down.  At least I didn’t buy the chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters that I really wanted.

All in all, a solid Saturday.