quinoa

The weekly menu

I have a week of food coming your way.  And I’m pretty proud of myself because despite Kyle being out of town I did a decent job of still making myself quality meals…as opposed to just half-assing it and rummaging through the fridge after putting P down.

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Once again, they’re all out of order.

When I’m planning the week ahead, I have a vague idea of when I’ll do certain meals based on their hands-on time and my schedule, but I like the option to switch it mid-week if I don’t feel like a certain dish that day or if something comes up and I don’t have enough time to prep.

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BBQ chicken, grilled corn, and kettle salt & pepper chips.  Holy moly are these chips addicting.  If you haven’t tried them, consider this post your PSA and stay away.  I used TJ’s BBQ sauce (the Bold & Smoky Kansas City style one) for the chicken.

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Asian slaw salad

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This was easy and delicious and I plan on making it again.  I used 1 bag of cabbage, 1/2 bag broccoli slaw which I tossed in TJ’s soyaki sauce in the morning so it would wilt and get soggy by evening.

Then I added 2 chicken breasts which I baked and shredded (some went to P so maybe 1 1/2 breasts), 2 chopped stalks of celery, 3 green onions, 1 can of mandarin oranges, and more soyaki sauce.

Just before serving I added sesame sticks on top.  These weren’t in the picture until after P was asleep (sesame and wheat are allergens for him).

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Perfecto!

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This week’s al fresco had lots of the old (Mary’s crackers, smoked trout and fried green beans), with a few new (goat gouda, fig jam [!!] and fresh blackberries).  Yums all around.

Thoughts on the new Mary’s cracker box?  Kyle and I had a long discussion about the reason for the change and their (possible) new marketing goals.  Because we are weird.

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This is the sprouted quinoa strawberry salad from Terry Walters’ Clean Food.  I wish all cookbooks were organized by recipes in a seasonal way.

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I added chicken because Kyle requested so.  And let’s be real, P doesn’t turn chicken down…ummmm…ever.  So my new favorite thing?  Tomatillos!

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And we already discussed the 4th so that’s the end of the post!

But before I sign off until next week’s menu, let’s discuss the chocolate in my life lately, okay?

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(above) endangered species natural coconut creme filled dark chocolate
(below) righteously raw maca & cacao maca bar

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Usually, I stick to the pound plus bars from TJ’s (I eat way too much chocolate to not).  But when Kyle’s out of town, he encourages me to  treat myself.  So I did!

I’m sorry to say the first wasn’t my fave.  The creme filling was weird and tasted artificial or something to me.

The maca bar, however, is the ISH.  I actually bought another a few days later because it was THAT good – even though it was a whopping $5.  I’ve been a righteously raw bar fan for a long time, but this was my first time branching out after a serious caramel streak.

What I ate…a long time ago

Last week I took photos of my whole day of eats – something I rarely do anymore – and then I just forgot about it.

But they were good meals worth sharing so I’m posting them now because it’s food related and this is a food blog!

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It’s pretty atypical for me to have oats in the mornings nowadays, so this creation is more of an anomaly than the norm.  I was in the mood for peanut butter but I used sunbutter instead because I’m still nervous about eating nuts when I’m around P.  Even though I’m super careful it’s still scary.  It also had coconut and cinnamon for days.

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My lunch featured Quorn chik’n tenders which are easy to have in the freezer for random protein emergencies (because we all have those?!?! what??).  Anyway, I was in the mood for a salad with some oomph so I thawed some chunks and kinda worried they’d be weird.

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They looked like chicken with freezer burn, but tasted shockingly good!  The ingredients list isn’t short, but despite appearances, it’s all decent.  It’s actually mostly egg protein, and yet it doesn’t taste eggy at all.  I liked it more than gardein and many other mock meats.

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I tossed it with steamed kale, coconut chips, and tamari – a quickie take on this salad (again).

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My afternoon boost was green – thanks to the frozen spinach.  The rest of the smoothie had coconut milk, frozen banana, nutribiotic vanilla rice protein powder, and ice.

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Dinner was more kale (I can’t get enough lately) with salmon.

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I definitely phoned it in with this meal, but sometimes you need simple ones to balance out the more time consuming ones.  I know which days are going to be busier in advance so those days are the ones that I bust out the crock pot or turn to big salads.  Kyle loves kale salads too so it’s a win win.

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This one had kale (massaged with olive oil and avocado), quinoa, and white beans.  I used canned salmon from TJs so it was ready in minutes.

P still refuses to have anything to do with beans.  It’s breaking my hippie heart.  🙁  I’ll just keep trying…

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Kyle and I finished off his birthday cake while watching Girls.  We flew through all 3 seasons in a matter of days.  Now it’s on to the next season of Mad Men that I saw just popped onto our Netflix queue.  Woo hoo.

Australia: Bondi and back

Sunday was our last (full) day in Sydney 🙁

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We slept in a bit and after feeding P, drove over to Bronte for brunch. 

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Bogey Hole was one of several cute looking cafes on the main street along the beach front.  They were all pretty packed but after a short wait we were able to snag a spot outside that fit us all, including a very fussy P in his stroller.

Kyle got a banana smoothie and toast with jam.  I think we were all feeling a bit blah from the previous night.

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Laura and I got the same thing – toast with poached eggs (only she added goat cheese and smoked salmon to hers and I added a side of avo to mine).  They didn’t have GF bread, so I just got sourdough (I tolerate it fine, but am still avoiding allergens as best I can while I nurse P).  We are both lactose intolerant though, so when it came with butter on the toast, my sister asked for a new slice.  I probably would have just eaten it to be honest, but they took mine away before I could stop them.  And then they ran out of sourdough.  So I got the only bread option left which had sesame seeds on one side.  Doh!  Their service wasn’t that great and it was really busy which made it hard to flag someone down without being insane.  So rather than be super obnoxious Americans, I just ate the bread.  It was the last day so I just said f^&% it.  I tried my best the whole trip and this one meal wasn’t going to end the world.  Silver lining – the bread I got was way bigger than the sourdough slices. 

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Chris’ breakfast sando on the left, Laura’s toast and eggs on the right.

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Despite his beach-y getup, P was sooo ready for his morning nap by the time we finished eating.  Sadly for him, we weren’t going home.  In an effort to live on the edge (and not follow his finely tuned schedule), we went for a long walk.

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The Bondi to Bronte walk is gorgeous!  I felt like every moment was a photo op and then when I looked at all the pics they looked fake they were so pretty.

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Almost as soon as we got to Bondi it started raining.  There were still surfers aplenty.  I had been to Bondi with Laura for our sister date, but that was at night and Kyle hadn’t been at all yet.  So we popped in to Iceberg’s overlooking the water, just to wait out the rain and enjoy the views.

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P was really into the coasters (whatever works!).

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Auntie Laura fed him puffs one by one, which kept him occupied for quite a while, but the rain didn’t seem to be breaking, so the boys cabbed it back to the car (in Bronte) to come back and get us (in Bondi).

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It was kinda an in between meal time when we got home, so we just decided to make sandwiches.  Grilled cheeses for the non-lactose intolerant boys, and goat cheese versions for the girls.

I actually ended up doing on open faced thing with strawberry jam as well.  And used some extra GF crackers to polish off the rest of the goat cheese.

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I can’t recall when we did while P napped, but I think it was playing catch up on mid-week episodes of “the Block” since the new room reveal was that night.

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Catching up on the latest in Australian Law…

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For dinner we BBQ-ed shrimp and salmon, and paired it with a big salad.  Chris was in charge of the seafood, and we loved the shrimp he made earlier in the week so much that he repeated that.  The salmon was cooked in foil with lemon and herbs. 

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We ate out in the front yard so we could enjoy the scenic views of Double Bay.  P was already asleep, so we just tiptoed back and listened in the window a few times to be sure he wasn’t making a peep.

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The last supper.  🙁

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The next day was mainly packing and travel. 

I went on a quick jog to get some last photos implanted in my memory.

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Would you ever move back to the States if you lived here? 

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Laura was nice enough to come home on her lunch break to drive us to the airport.  It was seriously sad saying goodbye to her.  I’m even sad just writing about it again.  We all miss her so much.

I packed as much food for P as I could.  We were out of pouches but found more at the local stores (organic, gluten, dairy, and nut free).  I also made a porridge out of leftover quinoa, carrot puree, bananas, canned pears, and cinnamon.  Basically all the mushy baby stuff that was left.  Fortunately, we still had puffs, so paired with bananas and the pouches we were pretty well supplied.  For him. 

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The flight home was long.  Duh.  And the melon chunks I saved from the flight for P were confiscated by LAX customs.  It was an honest mistake but they treated us like hostile criminals and Kyle is convinced his passport is now flagged for all future travel.  Fruit smuggler!  We also had to switch terminals and therefore go back through security (unlike our first flight which had an inter-terminal shuttle so we didn’t have to re-do the fun that is security with a baby).  In the end, the staff was nice and we had plenty of time between flights so it wasn’t a big deal.  Then we found delicious food in the terminal to perk us up even more.

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Lemonade!  I went crazy with all the yummy options.  Plus the tags list every allergen and the staff knew what was in each dish (sesame seeds aren’t yet listed as allergens, but I suspect that will soon change since they are “the new peanut allergy”).  It’s hard to tell what all the yumminess is above, but the Brussels sprout slaw and tomato and avocado salads were my faves.  I was so full and happy, I didn’t even care that our second flight got delayed.  I took P on some laps around the terminal until he fell asleep in the ergo.  Then I sat down and fell asleep myself!  Finally it was time to board.  Once again the crew was awesome about the peanut thing.  We made friends with our neighbors across the aisle, who were insanely impressed that P was so well behaved.  Then once they found out we were on the last leg of a 20 something hour journey from Sydney they were even more amazed.  We have a great kid, I tell ya.

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I practically dove into this green smoothie the second we got home.  Okay, not really, I’m type-A so of course I unpacked and put everything away and started laundry first.  But then I made the smoothie. 

And that was our trip!!! 

Australia: Din Tai Fung Dumplings

Tuesday morning was our most normal sleep schedule yet!  P didn’t stir until 7 am so we slept in and seemed to get on Australian time all the way.  I also didn’t cough all night long.  We went on a family walk after Chris and Laura left for work, just around the neighborhood.  It was so nice outside we couldn’t help but soak it up.  Once we got home we showered and made breakfast for the three of us.

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P played with the Tupperware some more because he’s obsessed, which tired him out and created the perfect nap scenario.  Once again his morning nap lasted 2 hours…which was eating into our plans for the afternoon…so we had to wake him up.  He wasn’t ready at all and it took a bit of effort to wake him.  Such a sweet angel when he’s sleeping.  Eventually we got him changed and ready to head off.

We met Laura and Chris in the CBD for a lunch date at Din Tai Fung (aka the most famous dumplings in the world).  I’d read about it (in Bon Appetit) prior to coming here but Laura and Chris both mentioned it once we arrived in Sydney so clearly it was a must for foodies.  It was also the first Asian restaurant we took P to, which made me semi nervous since there’s so much sesame and peanuts/tree nuts (and oils) in Asian cuisine.

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As per usual I wiped down the high chair and table and kept a close watch on what he was exposed to, and it all worked out fine.  Phew.

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The food was really good.  We got vegetarian dumplings, pork dumplings, pork buns, fried rice, noodles, shrimp and pineapple, and fried chicken.

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I tried everything but the chicken and wonton noodle soup (above).

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The vegetarian dumplings were legit with the greens and water chestnuts.  Mmmm.

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The pork dumplings were also super good and reminded me of the potstickers I used to eat way back when I was little and we went to our fave Chinese spot in town, the Great Wall.  Probably because that’s really the only time I ate pork but the flavors were great.  The dumplings were jiggly due to flavorful juices that burst on your tongue when you popped them in your mouth.

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The pork bun was doughy and meaty in perfect balance.

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The pineapple shrimp was the best of all.  I’m not sure what the mayo sauce was that smothered it, but it was delicious.

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All in all, a damn fine lunch (and my stomach had zero issues whatsoever!!!).  P pounded two happybaby pouches (butternut squash apple with chia seeds and plum pear raspberry) and then played with the containers while we ate.  He was content and entertained and despite the fact that the wait staff tried to serve him a kids tray a few times (super cute btw!) it was both a yummy and stress free meal.

Afterwards, Chris and Laura went back to work and Kyle and I stayed in the CBD to explore.  First we hit up the QVB (these Aussies and their abbreviations!!).  The Queen Victoria Building is basically a gorgeous building with shops and cafés inside.  I ended up getting two shorts and then we meandered towards Pitt street for more shopping.  The Westfield mall was there with a million more stores and there was a nice promenade too.

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Kyle got fro-yo while P snoozed in my chest in the ergo for his afternoon nap.  I tried on a few more things once he woke up but didn’t end up buying anything else.  We grabbed the ferry back home from Circular Quay and then went to the local park in double bay to let Pacman play on the grass and swing and stuff.

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What a silly little face.

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For dinner we split up the tasks – Chris (and Laura?) bbqed and I made a big salad with romaine, quinoa, goats cheese, corn, and pepitas with a mustard red wine vinaigrette.

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The goat cheese was very similar to the goat gouda Kyle and I bought on repeat all last summer from the Davis Farmer’s Market.

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We had that with shrimp and steak.  I’m still not sure about steak as a main dish (I couldn’t finish mine – I think I’m more of a meat-as-an-accent person? – I dunno, still sorting it out) but Chris cooked it perfectly.  The shrimp were awesome too with a basil chili paste marinade and then blackened on the grill.

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We kept it mellow with some tv and vino in the evening.

[more] omni meals for the family

Leading up to our trip, I tried to make the most of what we had leftover in the kitchen and freezer.  The meals were mostly huge salads with grains – my effort to be cheap and use up every single perishable item in the house so nothing went to waste.  As you can imagine, these weren’t the most inventive or exciting meals (also they were insanely repetitive) so I didn’t bother taking pics.  I did, however, have photos of some of our dinners from the previous week that I never got around to sharing…so here they are (links to the source included).

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I made a (lot of) adjustments to this crock-pot sweet potato quinoa chili – some inadvertent because my brain wasn’t on.

First off, I didn’t use the slow cooker.  If I’m going to have to brown the meat before I add it to the crock pot, I don’t see the point of using it at all.  I’m lazy.

It was good, but I have a feeling it would have been better had I not totally effed things up by buying tomato SAUCE instead of diced tomatoes,  I seriously don’t know how I did that, but I realized it mid-pour and you certainly can’t un-pour tomato sauce from a big pot of chili.  I tried to compensate by tossing in halved cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and amping up the spices, but it didn’t taste as chili-like as the original recipe probably does.

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It was still yummy – just not exactly what I set out to make.  I nixed the garlic and shallot and used an onion and garlic infused olive oil instead.  I also skipped the beans and added lactose free sour cream on top.  Without the sour cream, it was kinda just a tomato sweet potato quinoa dish.  The sour cream really made it great.

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The photo of my meal looks not much like this cover photo, but I am not a food stylist so there you go.  I don’t think I mentioned this yet, but I’m aiming to cook every cover of BA this year.  I already did January, so here’s February‘s chicken and dumplings with mushrooms.

Holy labor intensive!  Bon Appetit needs a reality check with these recipes.  Who has this amount of time??  I read the recipe and decided it would have to be a weekend meal so Kyle could occupy P for a lot of the cooking time.  Good thing too, because I was sweating it out in the kitchen for 3+ hours, so I definitely wouldn’t have been able to work it into the meal plan on a week night.  I have small unreliable windows (read: nap times) to fit in meal prep/cooking now that this kid is all crazy active and mobile, so if it doesn’t fit in there, it’s not happening.  Hi crock pot, I love you.

The recipe was awesome for the record.

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Nachos!  These are the kinds of meals that compensate for the ones with excessive effort (see previous recipe).  Lentils in the rice cooker make my hands-on work <5 minutes.

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Warm Chicken Salad

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This was good, but needed more oomph in the dressing department.  I used pomegranate vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and I added mayo to the dressing too.  I just felt like the extra creamy, fatty flavor would help it out, and I was right.  I liked the fingerling potatoes a lot though, especially with chives.  Chives are a new fave.

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I made the salad first and then added the warm shredded chicken right before serving.  I like warm lettuce because it makes it soggy-ish.  I’m a soggy salad person though.

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I intended to make kebabs with this meal, but ended up roasting the pineapples and red bell peppers separately.  I cooked the beef in a cast iron pan on the stove.  Then I served the whole thing over corn grits.  Baby boy had some too, but wasn’t a big fan.

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Crustless quiche

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Kale, noodle, and sausage stew.

I used TJ’s GF brown rice noodles.  I used the same chicken sausage I used here.  Simple and hearty, but not heavy.

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Big Ass Veggie Lasagna

I don’t have a recipe to link to because it’s just lasagna and I have a million lasagna recipes already on the site.  Let’s be real, layer noodles, marinara, cheese mix, spinach, and repeat.

I didn’t eat any since it had dairy and gluten, but Kyle was all about it.  I had no prob finding leftovers to grub on (mucho stuff stocked up in the freezer).

Other non-photographed meals included: mock Chipotle bowl with crock-pot salsa chicken, portobello fried rice, salmon burger salad, and pesto pasta.