Hungry Hungry Hippie

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It’s just six days away from Christmas but we already celebrated (!) so now I feel like anything else is just bonus time.

First of all, we had a real life actual Christmas miracle in that both kids slept in!!!  Here’s how I know my Valley girl is sick: she snuggles.  After three wake ups in the middle of the night, I finally brought her into the bed with me and Kyle at 5.  Normally this is a pointless action and nobody gets any more sleep, but for once she sucked her thumb and fell back asleep snuggled in between us.  And the next thing I know it’s 7:15.  OMG!  What a gift!  P slept in even LONGER, if you can believe that.  Normally 6:30 is about as late as we get so I’m taking alllllll the extra zzzs possible.

Kyle and I were able to each go on a run and shower before my sisters and their husbands arrived.

I fed the kids breakfast in advance because I knew there was no way they’d wait until 10-11 to eat brunch with the rest of us, so they happily played around until we were all fed before we busted into the presents.

Once we had unwrapped everything under the tree, I fed the kids lunch and tucked them in for naps…meanwhile…

My crazy dad took advantage of all the extra muscles on hand to get some yard work done.

This insane project took a couple of hours, but (thank goodness) resulted in zero injuries.  Minus my sister’s shoes, which were a casualty of saw dust.  Turns out suede and chainsaws aren’t the best match.

Seriously though, who climbs an extended ladder resting on a branch (that you are about to cut off) with a chainsaw without a professional around?!?  I could barely watch.

Instead, I was inside cozying up to the appetizer tray.

These new TJs finds are quite tasty, but are basically small tortilla chips with different flavors if we are being honest.

Goat brie and fig jam, don’t mind if I do.

Here’s the whole spread.

Hey!  Let’s add an almond on top.

I ate soooo many snacks, but that’s what the holidays are about.  Gotta live a little.

This garden memory game was a HUGE hit.  P wanted to play it the rest of the day.

Dinner time!

My salad had greens, roasted butternut squash, pecans, avocado, and a champagne vinaigrette.  Yummy.  But there were a bunch of other things that rocked too.

Like…

These heaps of veggies…and this amaaaazing sweet potato casserole.

This was new to our table and it was my favorite thing of all.

Here’s the recipe with my mom’s notes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used enough for a 9”x13” pan – about 6 large sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • several shakes of powdered ginger

Topping (I made 1½ topping amount)

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used ground oats made into oat flour)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.  (It’s easier to bake them and scrape out insides)
3. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, broth, vanilla extract & spices. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9”x13” baking dish.
4. Topping: In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

First salad, then everything else.

I went back for seconds of the sweet potato dish fasho, but stopped before I overdid it because I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did on Thanksgiving.  I knew there were a bunch of desserts in my future!

Cheers to the chef!

Lots of reading once dinner was through…and then it was time to get the little ones to bed.

Because the torch was coming out!  I told you I’d be getting back to you on the creme brûlée business.

I made that apple cranberry cobbler by the way.  It was vegan and gluten free but, believe it or not, I didn’t have any!

The chocolate pecan pie has my whole heart.  It’s my number one.  My sister made it.  With a GLUTEN FREE CRUST!  Gah!  I’ve never been able to eat the crust so this was a real treat.

But I had to have at least a little taste of the creme brûlée.

HOLY ^%#@ you guys.  I’m a chocolate devotee and yet, this was cuh-ray-zee good.  I mean it has egg yolks and sugar and coconut cream so duh, but really and truly this was the best thing.

She made it by merging a few different recipes together.  You can see the cooking time on the bottom of her sticky note…which added up to 75 minutes!!  I’ve got two words for ya: worth. it.

Christmas 2017 in the books 🙂

Christmas prep and giveaway

I spent most of Friday in Fremont with my little buddy.

Although there’s a little bit of stress leading up to these appointments, I look forward to them too because I get to spend 5+ hours with just Mr. P.  There are plenty of distractions – vital signs, nurse checks, and updoses of course – but it’s nice to hang with him.

I stopped at Starbucks on our way out of town and brought this bar for breakfast.

Share Bar is right!  More like “steal from your mom bar”.

This was so good.  It’s divided in half and Pacman swooped on most of the second portion after I gave him one bite.

 

But then moments like this make me willing to do whatever he wants.

That hand has my whole heart in it.

Let me share a bit more about these bars though.

Their ingredient list is short and sweet: dates, egg whites, coconut, apple juice infused blueberries, Bacillus Coagulant GBI-30 6086 (a probiotic)

No more, no less.

And every time you buy one, you give one to a child in need via Steve’s Club.

Awesome, right?

So I’m going to give some away, ok?  I thought you’d be cool with that.

If you want to WIN ONE BOX OF Chocolate Covered Blueberry ShareBars AND ONE BOX OF Chocolate Covered Strawberry ShareBars enter the following ways.

  1. Follow @stevespaleogoods IG page
  2. Like and tag a friend on any @stevespaleogoods insta post.
  3. Like them on facebook

After every entry, leave a comment on my post to let me know you did so.

Ok, back t the show.

He was so excited to tell me that the song was one he recognized. Music is life – all day every day.

And once his 90 minute wait was up after his last dose we said goodbye until 2018 and set off for WF.  His choice!

He picked a bunch of stuff from the salad bar and was bouncing off the walls with excitement that every person nearby was commenting on his delight.  I didn’t want to get into it with random strangers, but I am always so tempted to be like “BUT HE USED TO BE ALLERGIC TO EVERYTHING AND SALAD BARS WERE MY NIGHTMARE!!!”  Instead I just smiled politely. Seriously guys can you even believe this is our reality?!?  He asked for TWO different kinds of cheese and I just said sure!  And who cares that his bowl of randomness didn’t make any sense!  He picked it all out – including multiple kinds of lettuce – and it made him happy.  And that makes me happy.  And I didn’t even have to bat an eye when worrying about cross contamination (or even true contamination!).  Phew!

This was the biggest salad ever, but I was super hungry.  It had goat cheese, roasted butternut squash, bacon and pecans with balsamic vinaigrette on mixed greens.

My date has the dreamiest blue eyes.

But his table manners are lacking.

After lunch we drove back to my parents’ house and spent the afternoon playing in the backyard.

I grew up on this swing set.

For dinner we made roasted brussels sprouts, rice, and salmon.

Deeeelish.

I was a little hungry later but didn’t want to ruin my dessert free streak (and was also in the mood for savory, not sweet) so I had the last bit of rice and salmon that was leftover.

Once the kids were in bed we put on Love Actually.  I’ve been in the holiday mood for weeks now, but we were celebrating our family Christmas early (on Saturday) so this really kicked the weekend off right.

And speaking of Christmas…gotta prep for the big meal!

Our menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas overlap by a lot – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce are all staples for both days.  Usually we have roasted root veggies on both days too, but this year we didn’t because there were so many other veggie dishes instead.  Anyway, I chopped all the veggies, including parsnip, rutabaga, turnips, and asparagus, that night so there was one fewer thing to do when the kitchen was hectic the next day.  I also roasted butternut squash (above) for a salad (same-ish one I made for Thanksgiving…and Friday’s lunch).

Just wait until I tell you about the coconut creme brûlée that my mom made for we dairy free folks.  INCREDIBLE.

Scooting along

I should just take a photo when I have something that’s NOT nourish bread and nut butter for breakfast.

P wanted me to ride my bike to school to drop them off the day before, but I had planned to go to stroller strides so we did a rain check until this morning.  I wasn’t really excited about it, but it wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be and in the end, I’m glad he inspired me to get on my bike.  Cycling is a hard sell in December, but with the right gear it’s fine.  They were oblivious to the brrr factor entirely, because the chariot has a nice seal that keeps them toasty warm inside.  Also, they had “Wow in the World” on in the trailer so they were loving it.

Per her request, V and I spent the whole morning scootering.  We went to the park that’s about a half a mile from our house and she rode the whole way.  She’s fast!

By the time we got home we had to get straight into the car to go pick up P.

I went back to my favorite kind of lunch – a kale salad with avo. I can’t stay away for too long before the cravings call, even in winter.

Speaking of winter…

I bought this impulsively at Tjs because I figured it would be a hit with the kids so I prepped the whole thing (some for dinner that night, but the rest for lunches).

Quiet time turned into a nap time.  Oops!  He crawls into this little corner spot to listen to music and read books when he’s in a mellow mood.  I guess he was exhausted.

Even though we had more meals planned for the week I decided to use up some leftovers first.  We all had different odds and ends.  After finishing this sweet potato pecan dish I wasn’t quite full so I had one of the leftover fried chicken pieces from the previous night.

I kept my streak going with no dessert and a kombucha instead and didn’t even miss it!

Pattycakes has been begging me to let him go to “stay and play” with some of his friends, which is the optional 12-2 hour stretch after his preschool gets out.  I keep telling him we will find a time, and Thursday was that day.  He was SO EXCITED.

I packed him lunch to eat at school the night before.  He liked the cool compartments.

The next morning was much of the same.

I finished off the last of my home-made cashew creamer (which is why my coffee is in the jar – don’t want any to go to waste!).

I had a snacky afternoon and then Kyle dropped P off just after 2 and I realized how much I missed him!  Those extra two hours were great for me to get V to her nap when she wanted, but I still want that lunch time to chat with my big boy. Anyway, we can’t do stay and play on the regular since I can’t pick him up while V is napping (we had to plan for a day that Kyle was free to get him) so I still get him mostly to myself.

Dinner plans thanks to Gobble!

I got four servings but knew the kids wouldn’t be into the fennel and raw shallots so I kept some parts of the wheat berry salad separate for them.

I made the salad in advance but left the rest to dinner time. We had a play date with friends that afternoon.  But first, Jamba Juice!

We brought one to my friend too because she had oral surgery and couldn’t do much in the way of chewing.

Jamba Juice is still the place I trust the most with their allergy free blenders and understanding of dietary demands. I saved the last few sips of P’s smoothie for dosing that night (more on that later).

I’m starting to think salmon is my favorite food.  I want to eat it always and have to consciously not eat it for lunch and dinner.  I need to get to Costco to restock my smoked salmon stash.  In the meantime, if I see a gobble meal that has salmon, I’m definitely going to get it. I typically do salmon with Asian inspired ways, but this recipe had a blood orange salad with orange cumin vinaigrette (DELISH!) and sumak on top of the fish.

There were four filets, but one is missing from the photo because I’d already plated some for my starving kids to dig in while the rest cooked.

Looks fancy huh!

I tried to give most of the shallots to Kyle and then most of the fennel fronds for me, per our preferences. 🙂

This was a good meal, but it didn’t necessarily wow us like others have.  The salmon was delicious, but that’s just because salmon is delicious.  I did like that it made me use fennel though, because I’d never buy that otherwise (since nobody else in the family is a fan).  And the kids ate arugula too, which was probably a first.

P drank the last sips of smoothie after his dinner was done and I didn’t tell him I’d put his dose in it and he totally slurped it down without any drama, which was sneaky (and risky) on my part, but he was pretty happy to find out that he already took his dose after the fact.   Now I know that there’s a big mental component to the peanut dosing, as opposed to a true dislike (of the flavor).  TBD on how I will proceed.  We have OIT on Friday so I have a bunch to discuss with them.

Heading in to the weekend like…

Frying

Story time after stroller strides.

Followed by a gobble delivery!

And all I have to show for food is this bag of Siete tortilla chips.

Tuesday afternoons are back to back gymnastics so I packed snacks for them to eat while the opposite one was in class. Apple and pear slices on the bottom, cucumber slices in the middle, and carrots on top.  I usually give them baby carrots, but opted for the shredded pieces instead because they take longer for them to eat, which is important when I’m trying to occupy them for long stretches.

Once we got home I got to work on a gobble meal.

I actually got the wrong order, but made it work.

Frying for my life!

The good news is that the smoke alarms didn’t go off.  The bad news was that I cooled the house down to 60 degrees because I had to open every door and window and fan at the end of this oil splattering mission.

It was very worth it, though.

Check out how perfect the breading and cooking is!  I’m way willing to pat myself on the back for this because it was pretty out of my comfort zone.

It was also a total mess.  My stove was looking tragic by the end of it.  Thank goodness for splatter guards or it would have been a real disaster.  Serious question: How do you flip things that are frying without frying your arm hairs off???

I made fried rice too.

Time for the finishing touches!

The chicken was breaded in a mix of flour, eggs, and Chinese 5 spice.  And then there was a mandarin orange glaze for serving.

The kids LOVED the meal (as did the adults) so much that we seriously could have eaten 10 more servings.  And yet, we still had two leftover pieces of chicken!  I swear the gobble portions are so generous!  It’s amazing given how much our family eats, but I guess I buy the 4 person amount and half of those are kids so it makes sense to have some extra.

I gave Kyle the burnt ones but he said they were super good and didn’t think they were too scorched.  Phew!

Their ornaments that they painted were finally dry and ready to be hung. 🙂

PS Here’s a link for anyone wanting to try gobble that gets you two free dinners.  I buy all of mine, so don’t think I’m getting free stuff to promote them.  I just think it’s fun to do every once in a while and want to share a deal.

A one pot meal for Monday

This Monday I had MOPS and brought banana bread for my mama friends.

I made a bunch of loaves so the kiddos had some for breakfast.  They gave it the thumbs up.

I had some of my own bread and nibbles of other stuff as well as heaps of coffee as we chatted the morning away.  It was a rocky start because V cried a lot when I dropped her off.  I stayed with her for a while and tried to get her comfortable but each time I’d start to talk her through my departure, she’d freak out and cling to me.  After a few times of this, the brilliant child care volunteer just told me to go.  It was so hard leaving her wailing.  I was nearly in tears myself.  But then one of my girlfriends went to check on her for me a while later and reported back that she was happy as could be so then I was able to breathe a bit easier and relax.

I continued my snacky eating for lunch too – because nothing really called out to me.  I knew I wanted carrots and Mary’s Gone crackers, so I added sheep pecorino romano to the mix and called it a meal.

I went back for crackers three more times, but ate nice and slow to give myself time to tune in to my real hunger.

We hit up the park with friends that afternoon and it was the most perfect crisp weather.  We have been so lucky because even though the morning’s have been downright frigid, it warms up to 60 degrees by the afternoon which allows us to get some fresh air and work off energy before dinner.

I made this really yummy meal and feel like I should share the recipe – even though it’s not super precise.

If you know of a place to find GF orzo, let me know!  I used wheat orzo and was ok with it because the rest of my day was low fodmap.

Spinach and Tomato Orzo chicken Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or 4 tbsp EVOO + 1 tsp minced garlic)
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1/2 large yellow onion minced
  • 2 tbsp roasted red peppers (with the oily marinade)
  • 6 oz spinach
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper as needed

*optional: top with shaved parmesan

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a large skillet and toast the orzo in it for a few minutes.  Then add the onions and roasted peppers and sauté until the onions become translucent.  Add the tomatoes and stir to combine.

Next add the chicken, clearing little holes for it between the orzo, and let each side sear.  Salt and pepper each one. Flip and sear the other sides of the thighs, then add the spinach and put the lid on so it can wilt.

Once the spinach has wilted, add the broth and stir it all up so the chicken isn’t stuck to the bottom of the pan and the spinach is mixed in with the other stuff.

Simmer on low until the orzo has cooked through.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

It’s so easy to do ahead of time because you basically add things in one by one and then let it simmer (hands off!) while you go about your business and then it’s ready for you when you want to eat.

The kids LOVED this and ate a ton.  And there were leftovers too!  Kyle will get at least two lunches out of it, unless the kids claim it for their lunches.

The best parts were the nearly fried orzo pieces that were all brown from the first step.  Yum.

So many variations with this formula too.

Booch to end the night.  Just like last time, a few days of no desserts and my sweet tooth is gone.  It’s amazing what a little time off can do to reset your palate.