Tag Archives: kids

Vegan Chopped Salad Bar

When I visit California, I sometimes wonder if people are really meant to live anywhere else.  We left Seattle in the driving rain and arrived in California’s summertime.  My mom’s tomato plants are taller than me, and I picked a ripe tomato.  The girls gorged themselves in the raspberry and blackberry patches.  We spent all day in in the back yard.

When it was time for lunch, it seemed only sensible to chop up a small mountain of garden and farmers market produce to make a DIY chopped salad bar.  My parents (who eat very healthfully) always have a fridge full of the best fruits and vegetables of the season.  My uncle recently started eating an exclusively plant-based diet, so we made our salad bar vegan. Today’s offerings included shredded lettuce and diced cabbage, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and broccoli.  You could vary these in infinite combinations, of course.  We put out drained kidney beans, ground flaxseeds, nutritional yeast and walnuts for protein, and raisins for a bit of chew and sweetness.

I love this approach because it lets everyone customize a salad to their own taste.  I bet my mom took all the veggies plus flax and nutritional yeast (and maybe a splash of vinegar); I left off the carrots, went heavy on the broccoli, and topped my bowl with walnuts, raisins, and balsamic vinaigrette.

My uncle took this photo of his salad to share with you all in exchange for some tips about embarking on a vegan lifestyle.  What’s your best advice for him? Vegan Chopped Salad Bar (click for recipe)

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Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks

Road tripping ain’t what it used to be, friends.

Gone are our lazy days of puttering down the coast, of long lunches with spectacular views, of starting and stopping and pitching camp where and when we like.

We’re all business now.  It’s I-5 all the way from Seattle to Northern California, aggressive packing of PB&J fixings so we don’t need long lunches, and hardly noticing the view because of the song and dance I’m doing in the back seat to entertain the girls.

That’s right, we packed the whole family into the minivan (which I like to call the “Man Van” now, both to distance myself from it and to convey to J how sexy it is for him to take the kids to swimming lessons).  And we drove all afternoon and night, and much of the next day, and lived to tell the tale.

Here are some of the things that we did in the car to entertain three children aged 1, 3, and 5: made a list of things to do, read books, sang songs, colored, napped, watched a video, ate snacks, played peek-a-boo, and let the baby pull out an entire package of floss.

Here is something we did not do in the car: eat these chocolately granola treats.  We meant to, we really did.  Hannah said they were road food and I’m inclined to agree, but once I made them we had to taste one and then, wow, another, and they were so crispy and chocolately and then it was the next day and J was asking me to please take a photo of the things already so he could keep eating them and just like that…gone, as fast as the miles roll by when you’re having a good time out there on the road.

Continue reading Crispy Chocolate-Granola Haystacks (click for recipe)

Eggs with Chiles, Chips and Cheese

This is a five-minute breakfast or dinner that is worth knowing about.  It’s a quickie version of my favorite migas.  (I can’t believe that recipe isn’t on this site yet.  I owe you!)  I like it party because, as you can imagine, scrambled eggs with tortilla chips and cheese is alwlays an easy sell with the kids.  But mostly I like it because the adult version features roasted green chiles, a magical food.

My brother, provider of magical roasted green chiles, passed through town yesterday and brought little container of them.  If there had been more I would have made that queso fundido again, but under the circumstances we just tossed them into our breakfast.  I love how just a little bit of an excellent ingredient can elevate an ordinary dish like scrambled eggs.  I know that the world has accepted scrambled eggs with truffles or caviar as luxury food.  I submit that roasted green chiles belong in the same category. Continue reading Eggs with Chiles, Chips and Cheese (click for recipe)

Homemade Maple-Roasted Almond Butter

A new cookbook is such a good treat.  Whether it’s on loan from the library or all mine from my great local bookstore, I always love to curl up on the couch or in bed with a new cookbook.  And I just got a good one.

I’m telling you about it because you might think that the Food in Jars cookbook, by Marisa McClellan of the delightful Food in Jars blog, is only for us fringe types who are into canning.  Not so!  First of all, this is truly small-batch stuff, with most of the recipes yielding a manageable 2 or 3 pints of jam or pickles.  No need to can those–give one to the neighbors and put the other(s) in your fridge; they’ll be gone in no time.  Second, there are also plenty of recipes that have nothing to do with canning: think of them instead as recipes for foods that you could put in jars, if the urge struck, but it would be mostly for decorative purposes.  Granolas.  Nut butters.  Pancake mixes.  Infused salts.  This recipe falls into that latter category.

I meant  to put it in a jar, I really did,  but unfortunately I halved the recipe.  Served alongside a plate of apple slices, it was gone before the jar question even came into play.  The full recipe is below, and I don’t recommend halving it. Continue reading Homemade Maple-Roasted Almond Butter (click for recipe)

Granola Cookie Bars

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There’s something about environmentally-unfriendly single-serving packaged snacks that children find irresistible.  Maybe it’s the “all mine” factor, or the satisfying crinkle of those little bags, but it’s hard to compete with a store-bought granola bar for my kids’ affection in the snack category.

These bars did the trick partly because they were fun and hands-on to make, and partly because they’re basically cookies.  Mmm, cookies.  This recipe, from Good to the Grain, was a great starting point–chewy, sweet and oaty–but I expect to do a little experimentation in the future to find a granola bar that comes closer to being a healthy kid snack.  On the other hand, these would make a great hiking snack if you actually needed a sugar boost, and I quite enjoyed them as an afternoon sweet alongside a cup of tea.  We’ll just be calling them “cookies” from now on.

Do you have a granola bar recipe you like?  Do tell.

Continue reading Granola Cookie Bars (click for recipe)

Lentil and Yogurt Salad

It’s no secret that parents find themselves doing things that they wouldn’t have expected of themselves before having kids.  Today alone, I patiently explained to my kids over and over why they couldn’t play with a ball that they’d thrown into the chicken yard (it was covered in chicken poop), calmly told my one-year old to take a huge rock out of her mouth (we were inside; where did that come from?), and rejoiced along with my three year old when we found a small stuffed toy that she was desperately looking for (it was stuffed down into her pants leg, of course–yes, that’s right, the leg of the pants that she was wearing).

Today our entire family also attended a preschool “graduation” ceremony celebrating the fact that our three-year-old had finished this year of preschool…and will be starting another year of preschool in the fall.  Is that crazy?  I definitely would have thought so before becoming a parent.  And I guess I still think it’s a little bit silly now.  But you know what?  It was just darling to see her pride and excitement as her class filed in, to hear her voice ring out above the others as she belted out the word “chrysalis” in a song about a butterfly, and to see the smile on her face as she accepted her “diploma,” posed for a photograph, and then sprinted to us, beaming.  And even if it’s making too much of a not-much milestone, I love to see my girls learning to love school, which I know will serve them well in life.

Afterwards, we stayed for the school picnic.  I brought this salad, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the kids even tried it–they had sandwiches instead. Continue reading Lentil and Yogurt Salad (click for recipe)

Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Olives and Feta

Make new friends, but keep the old.  Do you know that song?  It’s a round.  One is silver and the other’s gold.

I made a lot of new friends this week.  What more is there to life, really?  I went to the BlogHer Food conference here in Seattle and a few things came to my attention.  First, I like food bloggers just as much in real life as I like them on the internet.  (There is an automatic bond among people who spend the day in serious contemplation of what to eat next, I think.)  Second, I learned some photography basics for producing better pictures than the iPhone snapshots you see here–which I will put into practice some day when I have loads more time, maybe.  And, honestly, I came home refreshed and grateful for my family after spending most of two whole daytimes away from my girls for the first time in more than a year.

I ate plenty of great food this week, but I was glad to be back in my own kitchen tonight.  I used a favorite trick of mine for squeezing more vegetables into our meal by blending broccoli into a pureed sauce for pasta and more broccoli.  I don’t know if this is technically a “pesto” but it is green and saucy, so there you go.  I didn’t use cheese in it, so this dish is vegan if you leave out the feta.

This is an easily-deconstructed meal if you care about that sort of thing: J & I had it all, the girls had plain pasta and broccoli (they declined the green “dip”–I thought I was so smart with that spin!), and the baby had pasta, broccoli, and as many olives as we’d give her.  Go figure.  The broccoli pesto would also be just right dolloped over a pizza or spread onto crostini, or even as a dip for crackers or other vegetables.

Continue reading Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Olives and Feta (click for recipe)

Honey-Almond Granola with Orange Zest

I have a confession.

I did it.  You guys, I bought a minivan.  A beat-up old minivan, of course, because we’re just going to beat it up more and I don’t event want a minivan anyway, but there it is.  And it’s unarguably a minivan.  It has about a zillion cupholders and fits carseats galore and I am going to have to practice obsessively to be able to look cool casually spinning the wheel with one hand while I effortlessly parallel park the hulking monster.

Oh, who I am kidding, I will never look cool again.  I’ll be driving a minivan. (To be clear, YOU look cool in YOUR minivan, of course.  This is not about YOU.)

I don’t think of myself as the minivan type, obviously.  But I hear that lots of people fall in love once they have one of these large, convenient, family-friendly vehicles.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I do think of myself as the granola type.  This one is no crisp, salty maple-y Olive Oil Granola, or buttery, delicate Walnut and Currant Granola.  This one is health food.  It’s almost aggressively crunchy, barely sweetened with juice and honey, and has no oil whatsoever.  It bakes into addictive crunchy clumps that you will probably find yourself eating by the handful each time you pass the jar.  That’s ok, it’s super healthy.

I’m going to eat this granola in my Birkenstocks while I pretend that my minivan is a 1960’s VW bus. Continue reading Honey-Almond Granola with Orange Zest (click for recipe)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream, No Ice Cream Maker Required

The truth about how J and I met is kind of boring, so we usually make something up when people ask us.  For a long time we used to say that we’d met in an internet chat room, back when that sounded scandalous, but now everyone meets online and we have to be more creative.  We met underwater off the Great Barrier Reef?  We were seated side by side for jury duty in small claims court?  We both worked at Baskin Robbins in high school?

That last one is true, actually, although the establishments in question were thousands of miles apart.  But it proves an important point: we have a long history with ice cream around here.

So I am well-qualified to tell you that this one is outstanding.  I already sang its praises here, but I feel wrong depriving you of this recipe for Seattle’s iconic ice cream flavor from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Especially since, get this, you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it. Some magic having to do with the salt and the cream keeps the texture sublime, even if you make it with a pan and fork instead (directions below).  If you do have an ice cream maker, you can save yourself a few minutes of stirring. Either way, this recipe will make your summer better.  And probably the entire rest of your life. Continue reading Salted Caramel Ice Cream (click for recipe)

Soft Rye Pretzels

Let’s start with this: I’m not at all above feeding my kids a box of mac and cheese, or declaring that it’s leftover night and wishing everyone good luck, or piling us all into the car to go out for ramen.  But I do try to make dinner for my family with some frequency.

Do you know this nice blog called “Dinner: A Love Story“?  I was just introduced to it recently.  It’s all about feeding your family dinner every night and of course they have a new cookbook (who doesn’t these days?), apparently full of recipes and strategies for feeding a family of picky eaters without going crazy.  I should probably get that cookbook.

But in the meantime I thought I’d share a tip of my own.  One of the ways in which I manage to get dinner on the table on a regular basis is by using the term “dinner” fairly loosely.  Some examples: breakfast for dinner?  Sure.  Sandwiches?  If necessary.  Tonight’s dinner?  These pretzels.  The girls gleefully chose their own dips (peanut butter, rhubarb jam, and applesauce), and the grown-ups had theirs with a sweet grainy mustard.  I made a pot of that great turnip soup soup as well, but it was certainly the accompaniment to the pretzels and not the other way around.It’s a little time-consuming to make pretzels (you boil these in a baking-soda bath in addition to letting them rise twice), but it was a fun project to do with the girls and the resulting pretzels were very good.  They have just the right combination of crispy bottom and chewy center, with a little tang that I assumed was from the rye flour, but Kim Boyce tells me is from the baking soda instead.  This recipe is adapted from Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, which I want to cook from front to back after having started with those Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts recently.

There’s a great-looking recipe for graham crackers, do you think I’ll be able to get away with calling those dinner? Continue reading Soft Rye Pretzels (click for recipe)