Friday, April 25, 2008

Green Up

The grass is green,
leaves are starting
to pop out. It actually
looks like spring!

It was school vacation week, and my husband worked all weekend, then took off for a convention and conferences in Las no need for any packed snacks.

I was in the mood for eggplant parmesan. My husband is not an eggplant fan, and the kids haven't had it too many times, so I thought I was safe. Well, it came out of the oven just before my husband left, and he stole a piece and said it was pretty good...and the boys went back for I quick snapped a photo of what was left before it disappeared completely!

Tofu salad sandwiches! Unfortunately the rolls were refined white bread...I guess that's what happens when you send a husband shopping.

The boys also had 1/2 a tofu salad sandwich; cucumber slices; plum slices; peanuts; some cantaloupe.

I definitely tried to make my life as easy as possible this week with my husband away. I even used some Road's End Organics boxed dairy free Mac & Chreese I had left in the cupboard. It's made in Vermont, where I lived for many years before getting married. This was the whole wheat pasta with "cheddar style" sauce. I added some leftover breadcrumbs I'd made for the eggplant parm earlier in the week, and some organic frozen peas. If there had been more, the boys would have eaten it...I just got this one little bowlful!

Just a simple lunch for the boys: the last of the tofu salad sandwiches; orange slices; soba noodles; edamame; cold spinach.
Cheaper than take-out...I had a frozen ball of pizza dough from Whole Foods, made locally in Medford, MA. Spread with jarred sauce & the leftover soy cheese from the eggplant parm, plus 1/2 spinach, mushrooms, black olives and 1/2 onion, garlic black olives.

Hopefully this big bean salad will last us through the weekend: green beans, yellow wax beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas), red kidney beans.

When I'm pregnant, I like to have high protein foods that are easy to grab in the morning without a lot of preparation. Things like bean salad, tofu salad, oatmeal with almond milk, or just apple slices with peanut butter are quick and filling.
My morning sickness has finally decreased and I've been ravenous. I hope these last 9-12 weeks pass quickly! I am so ready to be done being pregnant.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pancakes, Picnics & Pasta Salad


Ryan & AJ: dinosaur grilled chreeze sandwiches; steamed broccoli; grapes.

When I'm pregnant I treat myself to all sorts of this amazing slice of carrot cake from Cafe Indigo in Concord, NH. Soooooo good. Our local Whole Foods sells it now and my husband raves about it.

Ryan: marinated mushroom; Sunshine Burger on a whole wheat english muffin; strawberries.

I couldn't resist...So Delicious Neopolitan ice cream with Soyatoo whipped creme & Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips.

Ryan's preschool class had a pajama breakfast on wednesday, so I packed him his own pancakes with maple syrup and a bagel with Tofutti cream cheese. He also ate bananas, strawberries & juice, but of course skipped the scrambled eggs & cereal with milk. I use the simple Basic Pancakes recipe from The High Road to Health; they always turn out perfectly.
AJ: pancakes with maple syrup; raisins.

Both boys were too full to eat lunch after all the pancakes. So mid-afternoon I made a "picnic" plate and they demolished it. Anytime I make a shared platter of food and serve it on the playroom floor over a towel, or outside on the picnic table, they call it a picnic.
Today's picnic: Veggie Booty; almonds; dill pickle pieces; cucumber slices; baby carrots; apple slices with peanut butter for dipping; crunchy peas.

Meanwhile, I whipped up a grilled chreeze & tomato sandwich on 12-grain bread with the leftover chreeze sauce from earlier in the week. I usually use the Melty Nutritional Yeast Cheese recipe from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook with a little added cornstarch.

AJ & Ryan: melon (& strawberries for Ryan); pasta salad.
I figured out why AJ didn't eat his honeydew melon the other day, something he normally loves; apparently "the giraffe was sad"...I explained that if he held the giraffe fork upside-down it would look like a smile, and that made him happy, but I decided not to chance it and I put in a regular fork today instead.

Italian Pasta Salad
1 box pasta (I often mix half a box of whole grain flax rotini with half box tri-color rotini)
1 head broccoli, chopped & steamed (or 1/2 bag frozen broccoli florets)
1 large tomato, diced
1 can chick peas, drained & rinsed
1/2 can sliced black olives
1/4 cup onion (I often leave the raw onion out of the boys' portions)
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil (or a mix of olive & walnut oil is delicious too)
1 T. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Cook pasta. (Add broccoli during last 3 minutes of cooking if using frozen variety. Rinse under cold water and drain. Place in large bowl.
Add vegetables & chick peas.
In a measuring cup, mix last 6 ingredients for the dressing. Pour over pasta salad and mix.

Makes great leftovers to eat over the next day or so.

Friday, April 11, 2008

food obsessed

I have a slight obsession with cooking shows on the Food Network. I record a few on dvr each week and often Ryan likes to watch them with me. My favourites are Good Eats, Barefoot Contessa, Dinner: Impossible. And sometimes I add in Iron Chef, Semi-Homemade Cooking, and Easy Entertaining.

Good Eats host Alton Brown is simply entertaining to watch. Add to that a very scientific approach to the hows and whys of cooking, and it is a very useful show. Plus each episode concentrates on a very simple topic, ie. lentils, carrots, etc. Always included is the history behind each highlighted ingredient, nutritional info, and humor...and of course recipes.
Recently aired was a double-length episode centered on tropical fruits. Filmed on Oahu, it was a silly cross between Survivorman and Cast Away.

Barefoot Contessa is Ina Garten's show named after her food emporium in the Hamptons on Long Island. Though usually only 1 recipe per episode is something I'd use, I enjoy her simple style, and the surroundings remind me of where I grew up on Long Island, NY.

Dinner: Impossible stars Robert Irvine and his culinary team competing against the clock to produce often large volume meals in goofy situations. He's always got lots of shortcuts to make elegant dishes simple.

I needed something fast and relatively non-perishable for 1 adult and 1 child. My husband was taking Ryan with him to work at his booth at the local game convention Havoc and I had to make sure I packed enough for the day: 2 PBJ sandwiches, 1 bag potato chips, 2 bananas, dried aprictos, baby carrots, Garden Harvest Wheat Thins, Veggie Booty, asian rice crackers, Japanese crunchy peas, & a Luna Sunrise bar...not shown: an orange, 2 juice boxes, 2 water bottles.

For my breakfast I enjoyed my favourite (but expensive $7 per 1/2 loaf at Whole Foods) olive bread made by local Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord, MA (review here), topped with Marmite and homemade Muenster Cheeze from The Uncheese Cookbook (see her revised 10th anniversary edition The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook). Only bad things about this cheeze is a) my kids all love it too, so less for me! and b) it contains raw cashews, so not only is it an expensive recipe, but I cannot send it along to preschool. Amazingly this cheese actually melts better than most commercial vegan cheeses.

Dada was parent helping in Ryan classroom, and Ryan had requested pumpkin muffins (and I added a container of orange slices). Meanwhile AJ's snack: wheat gluten chik'n salad; Veggie Booty, a mini slice of leftover apple strawberry pie.

Ryan: grapes; dried apricots; whole wheat pinwheel wraps spread with Tofutti cream cheeze, Tofurky Deli Slices, shredded lettuce, & grated carrot.

Originally from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home, this Sweet and Sour Peppers recipe was in our CSA's cookbook. It used up the last of my frozen peppers from the end of last summer. My husband really raved about it. The boys aren't big bell pepper fans, but they liked the baby corn, cashews, and carrots (my addition). There was plenty leftover for 2 more meals too.

Dada was parent helping in AJ's class this time. In addition to pretzels, I cubed some honeydew melon and watermelon and stuck them on frilly toothpicks for the class.
The "food lady" was coming to the class to discuss different "tastes" and had asked me to provide some vegan cheeze alternative for AJ, so again I had to buy some nut-free Vegan Gourmet for him to bring.

Ryan: crackers & soy cheeze; honeydew melon & watermelon.

Friday:AJ & Ryan: baby carrots; Veggie Booty; 3 mini muffins (pumpkin, banana, & blueberry); apple slices.
Not the most well-rounded snack...I would add nuts at home, but can't for preschool...and can you tell I need to go grocery shopping?!

Friday, April 4, 2008

buying local

This week I used up our last "fresh" butternut squash from last fall's harvest. It's amazing how long certain vegetables will last if stored properly. We still have some garlic hanging in the basement stairwell. And there are still a few bags of frozen veggies in the freezer.

Ryan & AJ: wheat gluten "chik'n" salad; mini-blueberry muffins; broccoli; mango slices.

Ryan: 1/2 multigrain bagel sandwich with hummus & lettuce; baby carrots; snow peas; mango & strawberries.

Wednesday:Ryan & AJ: baby corn; soba noodles (with a little sesame oil & soy sauce); edamame.

In the afternoon we drove over to north Cambridge (where we used to live pre-children) for haircuts for my husband and the boys at Hair International; it's worth the 40 minute drive for cheap quick cuts done by the sweetest asian ladies, (who are also sisters), surrounded by lots of plants and classical music. It's also near my husband's business, as well as some great asian markets.
Before the haircut I hit Kotobukiya for some groceries:
No bento gear besides some paper liners and plastic grass, but always a great assortment of china, along with a good grocery selection. Unfortunately they were out of a few things I was looking for, but still worth the visit.
After haircuts we always go to our favourite Japanese & Korean restaurant, Hana Sushi; they don't have a website, but here's a review from the Boston Globe. We've been coming here since before we had kids. It recently changed hands last summer (to relatives of the Korean market next door apparently) and was completely renovated. But it still has the same feel, cheerful staff, and great food at a good price.
Nate wanted to use his chopsticks for everything. AJ's favourites are green tea and inari. Ryan inhales more sushi than the adults do now. And everyone enjoys the oshitashe and edamame.
Next door to the restaurant is a small Korean market , J & K HanARum, where I always stop in after dinner for a few items; their soba noodles are the cheapest I've found, and I'm always running low on pickled daikon. I can't think of a time that I've brought the boys in with me that the owners haven't doted on our "three boys!" giving them various treats, this time lollipops that made the ride home quite enjoyable, LOL.

AJ & Ryan: honeydew melon; crackers with Tofutti cream cheese; bean salad; crunchy asian peas.

My mother never liked to cook (or eat for that matter) and still doesn't. I think the only recipe she ever made that I use to this day is her recipe for bean salad. For potluck dinners when I was a kid she either made meatloaf or her bean salad. I only had 3 varieties of beans available in the pantry this morning when I whipped it up, but usually I replace the lima beans with cannellini or black beans. And obviously I choose a vegan mayonnaise. Here is her recipe:

Four Bean Main Dish Salad

1 can chick peas
1 can lima beans (or other bean)
1 can kidney beans
1 can cut green beans (or frozen thawed equivalent)
1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. vinegar (red wine vinegar works well)
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 pepper
1/2 tsp. dill

Rinse beans. Place everything in a large bowl and mix.
Looks nice served over lettuce.