Hungry Hungry Hippie

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Wednesday with P

Today (yes, I’m live blogging) started early with a 6:20 wake up.  Kyle was already on a run (he’s training for a half marathon in Feb) so I go in to greet P by myself in the still dark house.  He is in his “big boy room” now, which is heavily guarded lest he figure out an escape plan in the middle of the night that we don’t hear, so I remove the gate blocking off the outside of his door and go in to be greeted with a request for “out!”  He hasn’t figured out the guard rail yet and still thinks it’s just another (weird looking) side of his new bed, which is fine by me.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time though.

We read several books at his request until Kyle gets home and pops in to say hi.  He hears the front door open and yells “dada!!” in delight which is just about the best greeting a person could ask for.

After Kyle showers, I go work out in the garage.  We converted a side of the two car garage to a work out space with a super old TV/DVD player so we have a decent home gym now.  I kinda phone it in with Jillian because I am groggy, but it’s better than nothing.

After I shower Kyle heads to work and P and I play in his toy room while I nurse a cup of coffee.  Eventually we move to the kitchen for breakfast.  I set his highchair up facing the window because he loves watching the birds in the morning as they peck around on the lawn for berries or whatever.

Once he is eating (quick bread, blueberries, grapes, and a fried egg), I start making my food.

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A really big pancake with sun butter.

After P’s done and cleaned up I distract him with a Thomas the Train clip while I finish eating and clean up.  We play for another 30 minutes or so then get ready to go to Music Together class.

He loves music class and wants to listen to the soundtrack on the way there and home as well.  Several of our friends are in the same class so we get to hang out and chat between singing and playing instruments and dancing around.  I drive home as fast as safely possible while distracting P because he is so so tired by the end of class.  Fortunately we live close.  After a few more books to wind down in his room, I put him down for his nap and start prepping lunches for us both.

After I eat, I work on prepping dinner for the fam.  Today’s dinner was lemongrass pork in lettuce cups with a Vietnamese dipping sauce.  I chop everything for the meal and get the meat ready for tonight, then I make the dipping sauce.  The plain pork plated on the side is for P.

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After dinner’s good to go I attempt to do as many random errands around the house as possible until patty cakes wakes up (today I cleaned the bathroom sinks, filled the soap dispensers and restocked toilet paper rolls, picked chard and citrus from the garden, and did the dinner stuff).  I often jot down reminders to myself throughout the day for things to get done in this nap time (quiet things that require little elbow grease).  Sometimes I sit and sip coffee and browse the internet too, but today I was on a mission.  There’s usually less cleaning to do in the beginning of the week after my Sunday scrub downs, but if there’s not cleaning, there’s something else.  Toward the end of the week, after play dates and normal old life with a toddler, there are easily dozens of things to organize and clean and whatnot (maybe you can tell, I’m on the more anal end of the spectrum but I don’t care, I like things tidy).  I digress.  The point is that there are always a hundred things to do while P is napping and I never seem to get to all of them but I definitely try.  Lately, I’ve been researching parks for P’s 2nd birthday in a few weeks (!!!), which inevitably leads to some random internet distractions.  But for the most part I TCB while he’s down.

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Silly boy.

Once he is up we read dozens more books in his room and eventually head downstairs to his toy room and play until he’s ready for lunch.  By 2 pm I have to coax him to the kitchen with promises of bacon because we have a play date at 3 pm that I want to be ready for.  He munches on roasted chickpeas, bacon, pumpkin seeds, carrots, cucumber slices, and home-made dried fruit bars.

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After he’s full, I clean him up and let him dork around while I clean up, then we change and head out.

We meet up at a friends house for a couple of hours and P plays with his friends plus a bunch of other kids ranging 1 – 4 years old.  I chat with my mama friends while he does his thing, checking back in from time to time.  We head home before 5 so I can play with him in the backyard a bit before his dinner.  Once we get home (and get the mail – his favorite) we go in the yard and play with his baseball tee, watering can, basketball hoop, and he snacks on chard and kumquats.

We head inside once it starts to get cold and I begin to cook dinner while P dances to music around my feet.  He asks to see things and help stir from time to time so I let him.  Kyle gets home and I tell P, so we race to the front door to greet him.  I send pacman out to greet him and help him bring the trash cans out to the street for garbage day tomorrow morning (his even bigger favorite).  Then both boys come inside and say hi to me in the kitchen.  Kyle gets P set up in his high chair and I feed him his dinner (ground pork and raw lettuce from our meal, plus oatmeal with pureed sweet potatoes, applesauce, hemp, and chia seeds and grapes for dessert).

After I clean up P, he and Kyle go into the toy room and play together while I cook our dinner.  This is their solo time and I know it means the world to them both.  By 6:15 my stomach is growling so I go into the toy room to join them for a few minutes before we sing the clean up song and put away all the toys.

The bedtime routine is bath, teeth brushing, lotion, PJs, story time, and then bed time.

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Afterwards, Kyle and I get our grub on.  I always have dinner ready to go so as soon as we put him down we are plating our meals.  Here are the lettuce cups in the finalized form!  Super delish.

Kyle and I chill and chat and catch up and then I clean the kitchen while he hangs out with me in the kitchen.

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My baking itch sets in pretty immediately and so I get to work on brownies.  Kyle doesn’t mind one bit.

And now I’m sitting here typing this up while the brownies are in the oven and Kyle’s on a business call.  I can tell you there’s TV and dessert in our future.

Happy Wednesday!

 

The weekly menu

Okay so I have half of last week (from NYE on) through the end of this week to share.

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This was a “oh-crap-what-do-we-have-in-the-house” meal that I made after we got home in the later afternoon on Januray 1st.  We were enjoying relaxing and watching football at my parents’ house and by the time we left to drive back to Davis there wasn’t enough time to go grocery shopping.  Also not all stores are open on the 1st!  I’m looking at you TJs.

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It turned out totally awesome if I do say so myself.

We always have frozen salmon on hand so I knew that was the protein that we would be working with…and I initially wanted a kale salad to accompany it, but we didn’t make it to the store, so alas, that plan was out.  [In truth: we tried to hit up TJ’s on the way out of town, but it was closed for the holiday!]  Back to the drawing board.

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I used the commute home to brainstorm meal ideas based on what we had at home (and what sounded good) and came up with teriyaki salmon with rice noodles and broccoli.

I made the teriyaki sauce myself (we didn’t have any in the pantry) using this recipe and it was SOOOOO good.  I plan to make this forever more and not buy teriyaki sauce from a bottle.  Easy and delicious.  Totally recommend.

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I also made the sriracha cream recipe on that same post to drizzle over the top of the final dish (subbing soy milk for the condensed milk).

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With our filets, I put some of the sauce on each then sprinkled sesame seeds on, then wrapped them in foil.  P got his own (entire) filet of salmon which I baked plain and in a separate dish (because of his sesame allergy).

I used the rest of the sauce to sauté the noodles and broccoli in (the noodles were already cooked and the broccoli was frozen).  Dinner is served.

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The next day we went grocery shopping so I planned out the following 8 days’ worth of food.

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[One day was leftovers]

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First up, pork tenderloin with cauli puree.

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To make the cauliflower puree, I steamed 1 large head of cauliflower and then added a dash of beef broth and few ounces of chèvre goat cheese.  Then I used the immersion blender to mash it to a slightly lumpy texture (I didn’t want it totally smooth, like baby food, just enough so that all the cauliflower was mashed).  I used this marinade for the tenderloin (I’ve made it before) and it was just as good this time.  I skipped the oven step and just left it on the stove after searing it.  Way easier.  I waited til the temp got >135 (so don’t be deceived by the photo).  I also used all the marinade because it seems weird to dump the leftover yummy stuff when it could make a delicious sauce to drizzle on top.

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Then I spooned the extra marinade over the top.

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Fancy fancy.

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You’ve seen this one before and you’ll see it again.

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Baked spaghetti is just the easiest.

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Why pretend it’s anything gourmet, it’s basically the lazy cook’s lasagna.  But it’s the simplest vegetarian meal and we both love it.  Win win.

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Mexican bowls!  Or burrito bowls.  Or whatever you wanna call them.

Brown rice, romaine, crock pot salsa chicken, roasted corn, black beans, avocado, and extra tomatillo salsa on top.  These were so freakin huge and filling.

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This meatball and noodle soup was inspired by Thug Kitchen, which I got for Christmas from my sister.  It’s an awesome read, even without the bomb recipes.  Ha.  But the recipes look fantastic as well.  I have several bookmarked.

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I overcooked the noodles a bit (oops) but I kinda like soggy food.  It’s not for everyone though.  In any event, it was delicious and I’m glad we have leftovers because lunches are made!

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Mmmmm…soup.  Or in the words of Joey…mmmm….noodle soup.

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Next up this butternut squash recipe by Bon Appetit (from this month’s mag).  I served it with shrimp (sautéed in tamari) and quinoa.

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In the name of paranoia, I added sesame seeds after P was already in bed.  And I nixed the green onions because I don’t love them and didn’t care about missing them.  Thanks to the sriracha on the squash, it had a good level of heat.  I roasted part of the squash plain for P and he ate a few, but wasn’t that into them.  Squash and potatoes just aren’t his thing (unless I hide them in baked goods).  Quinoa and shrimp, however, he is all about.

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On the simple side, here are chicken Caesar salads (mine has nooch heaped on top, obvs).

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Leftovers!  I knew this would be a later day for me and P since we were coming back from Sac during rush hour, so Kyle and I split the rest of the baked spaghetti.

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And last but not least, baked salmon with kale salad.

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The kale salad had pistachios and dried cranberries with a home-made dijon red wine vinaigrette.  I tossed the kale in the dressing while I was feeding P so it had time to wilt the kale and break it down a bit by the time we had dinner.  The salmon was baked plain (I was lazy and knew it would just get chopped up into the salad anyway).

Do you like my new fancy salad tongs?  Thanks Laura!

And that’s that.  Next week’s planning is in the works…stay tuned.

Gluten free natural dye play doh

First off, look at this picture:

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That’s my attempt to make a rainbow of colors.  Do you see blue?  Green?  Purple?  Anything remotely out of the red color spectrum?  That’s what I thought.  But I couldn’t find a decent food dye that didn’t have weird chemicals or scary crap…so I went with India Tree dyes and hoped for the best.  Turns out, the red and yellow are awesome, but the blue doesn’t work.

IMG_0943Anyway, the play doh was easy and has lasted over a month without any real special care, so I thought I’d share the recipe in case other moms of gluten free kiddos were interested.  I promise, it’s not hard to make at all.  I did it late at night and it took around 30-45 minutes all in.

Allergy Friendly Play Doh

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • food coloring

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium pot.  Then add the oil and water and mix until thoroughly combined.  Heat the pot on the stove over low heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  After about 5 minutes the dough should start to pull away from the sides easily.  When this happens plop the dough onto parchment/wax paper and let it cool until you can knead it.  Divide it into smaller portions and add various food coloring dyes as desired.

Store in tightly sealed plastic bags or tupperware.

Allergy friendly chia dried fruit bars

I’ve previously mentioned TJs dried fruit bars because they are a relatively healthy on-the-go option for kiddos with allergies (the only ingredients are dried fruit).  I don’t love the amount of sugar in them, but since that’s my only issue, I’m cool with it.  However, every time I buy one (at 99 cents per bar) I think in my head how easy they would be to make.  The only ingredients are literally dried apples + dried _______ (whatever the flavor was – coconut, banana, strawberry, mango, etc).  They continue to make more flavors which has been nice.  Variety is always a plus.  But I knew I could just as easily DIY. So I finally did.

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And he liked them!

They still have a lot of sugar since the primary ingredient is dried fruit but they also have chia and hemp seeds and (GF) oats, so they offer slightly more nutrients.  Plus they are SO EASY to make and completely customizable.

I didn’t measure things and you don’t have to either!

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1.  Start with dried fruit – whatever you want to use.  I had a bag of mixed dried fruit which had mostly the reject stuff left (i.e. prunes) but there were also dried apricots, apples, and nectarines.  Dried pears are a favorite of mine so those were missing from the mix.  ;)  Other ideas include dried mangos, bananas, figs, dates, raisins, cranberries, cherries, pineapples, papaya…literally anything!  Put it in your food processor and you’re on your way.

2.  Next add water.  This is especially important if your fruit is harder and more dried out.  Let it soak in the water for a while to soften up.  You can either drain the water or leave it, depending on how much you added.  I didn’t add much so I left it in, knowing I was adding chia seeds later (which would gel with any extra liquid).  I think it made it easier to blend this way, too.

3.  Pulse until a semi-paste forms.  This could take a while but just keep at it.  The fruit chunks don’t have to totally break down, they just have to get relatively mashed up.

4.  Add chia seeds (plus whatever other seeds you want) and oats.  Chia seeds help hold the bar together and add nutrition.  Oats make it more bar like and not just fruit leather.  The amount of each that you add will vary based on the texture.  You can always add more if it’s too wet so start slow.  I added hemp seeds too, just to increase the protein.

5.  Pulse until the mixture becomes a large ball mass.  It may help to let it sit and rest a while after you pulse it to let the chia seeds gel and then see where you need to go from there.

6.  Once it’s a workable consistency (it will still be sticky but you’ll be able to easily mold it’s shape) put it on a big sheet of parchment paper.  Fold the paper over it and roll it out to an appropriate thickness (I think 1/4-1/2 inch is good).

7.  Place in the fridge for a few hours to set.

8.  Slice into bars/squares/whatever.  Alternatively you can roll it into balls.  Whatever you toddler prefers.

9.  Store in fridge in an airtight container (I kept mine in the parchment paper).

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He likes them and they were cheap and easy, and that’s a big win in my book.

Notes:

He did eat some straight out of the food processor pre-refrigeration (I sorta shaped them into little balls) and although they were clearly too sticky, he was still asking for more after each bite.

If your child is picky, start with flavors/fruits you know he/she likes and then gradually decrease the ratio of the familiar and increase the foreign.

These bars are dairy, nut, wheat, gluten, soy and egg free.  If you aren’t worried about allergies, nuts could be a good addition, but I don’t know how that will affect the texture.  Hope you give it a shot!

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I totally made some for me later (with almonds, coconut, dried ginger, and dates).  Mmmmmmm…

New Year’s Eve 2015

Hi new year!  I’m not the kind of person to set “resolutions” really.  I’ve sorta done it in the past, because who hasn’t (?), but I usually gave myself vague goals like “drink more water”.  That said, I can definitely see the appeal in resetting your focus after the holidays, when desserts are impossible to turn down and there’s always some sort of feast in front of your face.  But I exercise regularly all year and that’s always a priority for me, whether it’s January or not.  Similarly, I always want to eat good quality whole food.  And when I get off track, I’m pretty quick to reel myself back in.  So physical health related goals are rarely things I feel I need to work on.  Instead, lately I’ve been trying to emphasize mental and emotional health.  Last year was the first year I truly embraced it as an actual focus and I think a lot of it had to do with the overwhelming feelings I had been having previously (working as an RN and being a good wife and friend and loving nurturing mom).  It was difficult for me to do everything as well as I wanted and I didn’t really know where to sacrifice my effort because it felt like there was nowhere to cut corners.  2014 was a fabulous year for me, and accordingly for our family.  I felt fulfilled and happy as a stay at home mom and had the ability to put my family first.  I don’t know why I felt so guilty leaving the ICU setting, but once I got over the “shoulds” of the situation and realized how blessed I was to get to spend 100% of my time hands-on with my kiddo, it was like I was able to be my best self.  All the stress I had before melted away and everything was good.  Great, actually.  So I have no rock-the-boat changes I want to make in 2015.  I just want to continue to be as supportive as I can be to my family and friends.  It’s what makes me feel accomplished and keeps things running smoothly in our home, and for now, that’s perfect.  The one thing I want to do more is go on date nights with Kyle.  We NEVER go out.  Ever.  It is mainly due to the fact that we are budget conscious and we don’t have a babysitter, but either way, we have to figure out something.  We’ve been discussing date swapping with our other baby friends’ parents and I’m hoping we can make it happen.  As it stands, that’s the only thing I’d like to work on this next year.

On that note…let me talk about our wild and crazy New Year’s Eve date night!

Party animals that we are, Kyle and I were out it til 11 pm!  My parents were nice enough to watch P after we put him down at their house, so we decided dinner and a movie would be a perfect thing to do as a couple.  It has been over TWO YEARS since either of us has been to a movie theatre and since we don’t have cable we are beyond out of touch (I have no clue when we last went out to eat childless…I can recall only two times since giving birth).  We decided to see The Imitation Game for no reason other than it fit the right time slot.  Why do movies start at 10:45 at night???  Who can stay up that late?  Okay, teenagers, sure.  But what adults are out at that hour?  Am I completely ancient?  There was literally nothing showing between 7 (when we were eating) and then.  Except for The Imitation Game.  At 8:40.  Fingers crossed it was interesting!  Anyway, we hit up Lark Creek for dinner first.

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Kyle and I had been there for brunch before, but never dinner and they have a good reputation so we made a reservation a while back.  We got there early and sipped on drinks – mine was a cucumber lemonade slushy thing.  Yummmmm.

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As a main I got the roasted chicken (Brick Pressed Mary’s Free Range Half Chicken) but the real reason I picked this dish was for the sides.

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It came with brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes that were so mouthwatering I wanted a plateful to go as well.  Kyle helped with half of my chicken because his appetite is grande now that he’s training for a half marathon.

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He got Filet Mignon which came with a potato-leek cake, and creamed spinach with bacon & red wine butter.

Not too shabby!

We both loved our food and would definitely go back to Lark Creek.

Instead of getting dessert, we headed to the theater and grabbed sweets there.  Not exactly healthy, but it’s NYE!  Gotta live it up!  Kyle got two scoops of ice cream and I got peanut AND peanut butter M&M’s (because I have to get my nut fixes while P is nowhere around!).

The movie was super interesting and I’m really glad we went.  I love the WWII genre, and this had lots of other topics too, so it was a very fun night out with my main squeeze.

Hoping for many more in 2015!!