Tag Archives: New Year’s Resolutions

Meatless Monday: Black Beans and Coconut Lime Rice Again!

We’re making our favorite dish tonight–Southern Living’s Black Beans and Coconut Lime Rice.  There is just something so delicious about the toasted coconut rice with fresh lime juice! Each week I make out a menu for the family meals and this is usually Jeremy’s first request.  During the winter, we top ours with sliced radishes, cilantro, green onions, jalapenos (well–just me!) and some low fat sour cream. In the summer we like to add the fresh mangos suggested in the recipe.

This recipe is easily made veg friendly by substituting coconut milk or veggie stock for the chicken stock called for to cook the rice.

I’m very excited today! My new food processor and baby food trays have arrived and I will be posting some home made baby food recipes in the near future. I’ve made a few things with a basic steamer and mini-chopper, but unfortunately, my 15 year old mini chopper had an accident when I attempted to sterilize it by using one of my Medela breast pump/bottle steaming bags….

:0 Whoopsie.

We’ve been enjoying Earth’s Best Organic baby foods, but I cringe over the 75 cent price tag for each 2 oz jar….knowing I could do it by hand for less and hopefully make something that tastes great.

I confess to letting myself be intimidated by food processors….something about multiple sharp blades and stern instructions not to use one while under the influence of alcohol! Since I’ve always lived by the phrase “I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even put it in food” I found this daunting. Ha! No really, they are one of two appliances that scare me. The second is a standing mixer. I don’t bake and it’s too small to hang laundry on if  I don’t use it. Can’t justify that one…even if it would be so pretty and shiny on my counter top!

I went through a gadget phase in my early 20’s and my tiny apartment kitchen was littered with rice cookers, steamers, juicers…you name it. I found that most of the time it was more trouble to clean the gadgets than spend an extra few minutes processing foods by hand.  Then I went through my self described “Quaker Phase” where I cooked with nothing more than a paring knife and the occasional use of my ten dollar mini chopper. I might also add that this was my living solo vegan phase where I made earnest whole grain dishes and tortured my mom with tempeh.  I was happy mixing batter by hand and smooshing mashed potatoes by hand…but as my family has grown so has the arm work.

Recently, I have began to acquire a few kitchen gadgets. I received a new mixer and hand blender for Christmas and am now producing cupcakes and beautiful salad dressings with ease. Then, I made the mistake of watching the food channel while feeding the baby and my eyes glazed over as Paula Dean and Rachel Ray whipped up some tasty treats with a food processor. Muffins! Salads! Dressing! Soups!

I contemplated the Beaba Baby Cook Steamer that I had been none too subtly hinting to Jeremy about. It steams, it mashes, it looks so cute! He gently reminded me of the cost per use and it just didn’t add up for the 3-5 month window of time that I would actually use it.  With a “real” food processor, I wouldn’t have to shelve a $150 appliance when my child fully progressed to finger foods. I could move on from tasty purees to anything my little heart desired.

Over the years I have matured as a cook. I feel like I can conquer my fear of the  food processor. Think of all the slaws and chopped soups/salads that I have been missing out on?!? Dishes like potato latkes from the Veganomicon could become a “do” now that I don’t have to dread the thought of shredding potatoes by hand.  Oh sure…I even bought a mandolin once, thinking I could go low tech and still achieve the same results…but after nearly taking my finger off a time or two I decided that grating my own vegetables would not be a good idea. My family needs me 🙂

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Filed under homemade baby food, making baby food, Meatless Monday, Nutrition, Planning Family Meals, Vegetarian Cooking

Morgan’s Room

We’re still turning the TV off here. The kids ransacked Morgan’s room last night–every toy from the two toy boxes was on the floor. Leighton was decked out in the Mardi Gras beads that my mom sent a while back and even had a pirate sticker affixed to her back.

Morgan put on a puppet show for our enjoyment. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of those two sesame street puppets from our trip to Turks and Caicos last year. We had a blast! And had it all cleaned up by the time Daddy came home 🙂

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Meatless Monday: Vegan Black Bean and Butternut Squash turn overs

It all started with the black bean and acorn squash empanada recipe from the Veganomicon.

As usual, I had the wrong squash…and no time to prepare the pastry dough…no time to roll it out…and nothing in the freezer to substitute except for some phyllo dough that I had intended to use for appetizers over the holidays. I knew that I could still make it work.

Meatless Monday had already been pushed to Tuesday due to an over stock of homemade chicken soup from Sunday. I wasn’t going to push it back even further given Jeremy was on call and both kids were doing their best to see who could make me crazier.

Ingredients:

Phyllo dough-thawed (needs at least two hours to thaw so think ahead.)

1 small butternut squash-steam in microwave 10 minutes and allow to cool

1 c black beans

1 T olive oil

1 small vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

cumin

salt

1 lemon

2 tsp maple syrup

Cooking spray

 

Directions:

  1. Thaw Phyllo dough (Brand used: Fill O)
  2. Roast or Microwave Squash * I did this the night before, but you can do it quickly in the microwave or go old school by brushing with olive oil and roasting in 425 degree oven for 40 minutes
  3. sautee chopped onion and garlic
  4. add chunked squash, black beans and heat through
  5. add 2TBS fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp maple syrup, salt to taste  * Original recipe called for chopped jalapeno and coriander seeds but I made this one kid friendly
  6. lay out 3 sheets phyllo dough–spraying cooking spray between each layer. Cut dough in half down the middle. Add 1/3 cup filling to each half and do your best to make a a pretty triangle. Mine were as unattractive as can be…but tasty!
  7. Lay triangles on cookie sheet  coated with spray and use cooking spray over the top of each turnover.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until browned and crispy
  9. Best eaten warm

Verdict: as I mentioned above, this was not very pretty due to my poor turn over making skills. I liked the crispiness that the phyllo dough added to the recipe rather than the pie like texture of pastry crust, but that was the cook book author’s original plan and I know it would be delicious.  Morgan was extremely skeptical based on looks alone, but once I got him to taste the  turnover he said “Oooh Yummy!” and ate one and part of mine and part of his dads 🙂

We served the meal with mexican cucumber salad: chopped cucumber, chilled romaine hearts, red bell pepper, scallions, cilantro  and sliced avocado. A simple lime/olive oil/ salt and pepper dressing would be great or you can roll like Morgan with Ranch Dressing!

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Filed under Meatless Monday, Planning Family Meals, Toddler Friendly Food, Vegetarian Cooking

Spending More Time with the TV Off

Yesterday we broke out the Zany Zoo wooden puzzle that was a gift from one of Jeremy’s coworkers. It is such a beautiful toy and kept both Morgan and Leighton busy for half an hour twirling beads and matching puzzles of animals. I saw a bit of my future as the two pushed one another and held on to the animal beads that drew their attention….but it was still cute to see Morgan explain to his baby sister what a zebra was and show her little hands how to maneuver the beads and open and shut doors.

We also danced to Morgan’s cool new sound board mixes, which allow us to choose a variety of music styles from steel drums to techno and program it to play popular kids songs in the new format. It’s so cool!

and then we always play with the couch pillows for some low tech fun 🙂

I’m really enjoying spending more time with the television turned off. We’re playing and laughing and the  kids are thriving with more attention. I thought it would make things harder with two kids, but they actually behave better and have become more engaged in the same activities. Even with the age difference–Leighton enjoys hearing Morgan’s story books and he enjoys her simple blocks and sorting toys while “helping” her use them. Leighton is sitting up on her own now, and that makes it easier for them to play together.

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Happy New Year!

I owe an epic post on the five @#%#%^ days that it took us to get home from the holidays–but for now, let me wish you all a happy new year and get the resolutions rolling.

In 2011 I resolve to:

  1. Learn to use my new camera
  2. Spend more time with the TV off
  3. Get back into whole foods on a daily basis–not just in fits and starts
  4. I resolve to move more each day and make better choices…I’m so over the mama schlump
  5. Less retail therapy, more outdoor therapy. It’s been too tempting to log on to Anthropologie when I need a mental break rather than load the kids into the stroller and see the world.
  6. work on my writing
  7. continue Meatless Monday
  8. Go on two dates a month with my hubby…life’s too short not to enjoy the love of my life.
  9. Plan more fun time with my friends. I hope to initiate more get togethers and good times 🙂

What are you guys hoping to do in the new year?

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Resolutions

I’m not a big one for resolutions….even with my love of list making and OCD like pursuit of perfection 🙂  Still, every year I like to think about things that I would be happy to do just a bit better!

1. Incorporate Vietnamese recipes into our home.  J’s sister gave us a beautiful VN cookbook for Christmas and even though I am intimidated by how long many of the recipes are…there are some that look doable.  I also have a lovely VN born friend who was kind enough to share a soup recipe that I plan to try next week. 

J is not a huge fan of the cuisine…as it contains most foods that he doesn’t eat! (oh…fish, shellfish, greens, cabbages, chilis…he’s not even crazy about the rice noodles)  But it stole my heart nearly 10 years ago when my Army battle buddy used to treat us to a VN Sunday dinner at a San Antonio restaurant during our officer basic course. I have such fond memories of enjoying these meals with my dear friends….and it was brought back when I discovered a local place near my office across town that I convinced all of my coworkers to enjoy with me. Now that I am a SAHM, they still visit the restaurant several times a month.

During our time in VN, my favorite dishes were the fresh fish in caramel-like sauce, steamed pork buns, and the water spinach. My taste buds go crazy thinking about how simple and delicious the water spinach was over rice. We have a few asian markets here…but I am not sure I will be able to find this amazing green!

2. Have a more positive outlook about my pregnancy.  I confess that I went to password protected posts during my first trimester because I was living in blind fear. I’ve never been a “glass half full” kind of gal and being pregnant again after our first loss scared me to death. Add severe all day sickness and vomiting multiple times a day and I was a nightmare to speak to or to be around. J nursed me through it all…providing iv fluids when needed…and doing everything around the house. He is amazing. I just continue to hope with each week that goes by we will be ok this time.

3. Begin some gentle exercise.  I lost nearly 10% of my body weight while sick the first trimester…and didn’t have the strength or energy to think about walking or stretching. I hope to slowly build up my tolerance again.

4. Love my little boy every day and enjoy his last 6 months as the baby and my only child. I know that being a big brother is never easy…and I want to make this time special for him.

5. Return to weekly meal planning for the family and to cook again. My meals have been restaurant take out, frozen pasta mixes…and little else over the past 3 months. Now that I feel semi human I am ready to regain control in the kitchen!

Happy New Year!

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Filed under Planning Family Meals, pregnancy