Thursday, June 28, 2012

raspberry•mocha smoothie

Today's my day, all day long.  It's my day every Thursday, now.

At first, I felt guilty for signing my kids up for preschool on the same day-- all day, every week, in the summertime, no less.

The first day they were both gone was actually kind of excruciating for me.  It was way too quiet.  I felt lonely.  I missed them.  I (as mentioned above) felt guilty.  

It was the first day I'd been alone all day in, if my memory serves me correctly, just over five years since my oldest was born!

I also didn't know what to do with myself that day.  I ended up engrossing myself in bills and spreadsheets on the computer, and since there was no one around me nagging me that they were hungry, forgot to feed myself lunch.  I was so happy to pick them up at the end of the day and embrace the loud, dirty, crazy messiness that is my little boys again.

But that's not happening today.  I'm on my third week of this schedule and I've got the hang of it now.  I'm completely happy that it's silent around here.  And happy that I got to make my smoothie today with espresso in it.

'Cause if I make smoothies tomorrow when my boys are around, you know they'll want some...  

And trust me: they do not need the espresso.

the veggies (er, fruit and stuff):
  • 2 large (lungo) shots of espresso, or about 3/4 cup strong coffee, cooled for as long as you can stand it
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt or silken tofu
  • 3 generous TBS chocolate syrup

the love:
  1. Throw it all in the blender and mix until smooth.  This makes one large smoothie or two small ones.  But, it's best enjoyed alone in complete, glorious silence-- so you should really drink it all yourself.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I have a confession to make:  I have a food blog and these days I basically don't cook. 

Etsy is mostly to blame, taking up most of my spare time with my own shop ( and my husband's ( to manage.

And, of course, my wild, genius children.  They definitely keep me on my toes...

The latest with the kids includes, but is not limited to, preparing my oldest (or myself?) for (gasp!) kindergarten next year.  This is a much bigger step than I had imagined-- something I never thought was a big deal but has already brought me to tears on more than one occasion over the last week.  I am bound to be a blubbering fool on the first day of school in the fall.

I digress--  I believe I was telling you how I don't cook.  We still eat healthy, but since other things have dragged me from my kitchen of late, I've kept it very quick and simple.  I've mostly stuck to cheater meals, including the lovely and delicious Frito salad:

I realize this is not an original concept, but some nights, especially on upcoming hot summer nights when you don't feel like firing up the stove or oven, it seems like genius.  Especially if you have what I consider to be the key ingredient:

If you know me at all, you have probably heard me bring this up in casual conversation on at least one occasion: Marie's Chipotle Ranch is awesome.  I eat it on nearly everything: salad (duh), Quorn chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, Field Roast frankfurters, carrot sticks, veggie burgers, cereal...

Okay, not cereal-- not yet, anyway.

For all I rave about it, you might wonder if I have a sponsorship deal with Marie's.  Sadly, I don't, but I would certainly be open to the idea if anyone has any connections.

Back to the salad--  So quick; so simple; so yummy.  And it's easy to tweak into a healthy, simpler version for the lettuce-phobe children:  

We gobble it up and I'm back to chasing my five-year-old who just learned to ride his two-wheeler, and my "runner" of a two-year-old (who lately is not unlike Lily in the last episode of Modern Family).  And, maybe a little Etsy...

the veggies:
  • salad greens (I used a mix of romaine and baby spinach here)
  • Fritos, about a handful per salad
  • any or all of the following, or whatever else sounds good:
    • sliced avocados
    • chopped carrots
    • beans (I used pintos this time)
    • cubed cheese
    • tomatoes, cherry or chopped
    • red bell pepper, sliced or chopped
    • frozen corn, defrosted
  • and, of course, a generous dribbling of Marie's Chipotle Ranch

the love:
  1. Assemble in a big bowl and dig in.  That's it.  So simple, but crazy good.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

chocolate cake•muffins

Chocolate cake for breakfast?  Wasn't this in a Cosby Show episode?  
Bill feeds the kids cake for breakfast and they all start chanting, "Dad is great!  He gives us chocolate cake!"*
Now Mom's great.  'Cause that's what I just did.

You might say, "Isn't this basically your Insane Chocolate Cake, with some flax meal and almonds mixed in?" 
And I might say, "Don't be ridiculous!"
But really, it is.  
But in all fairness I also cut back the sugar. 
You might also say, "Isn't it a little crazy to feed your kids chocolate cake for breakfast?"
But I say this recipe has some redeeming nutritious elements to it (whole grains, banana, omegas...).  We had these muffins for breakfast with some Greek yogurt, and felt pretty good after that.
And, oddly enough, no one complained...

the (non)veggies:
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 TBS flax seed meal
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

the love:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° and prep 24 muffins' worth of pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, flax meal baking soda, salt, and cocoa.  Smash any large lumps of brown sugar with the back of your mixing spoon.
  3. Make three holes in the flour mixture, and put the vanilla, vinegar, and oil each in a separate hole.
  4. Dump the mashed banana and the water over the top of everything and stir it all together until it's just combined.  Fold in the almonds.
  5. Scoop the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about a half hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Serve for breakfast, a snack, dessert-- whenever really-- and prepare for cheers.

*I couldn't find the Cosby Show clip, but here's a hilarious classic Bill Cosby standup clip about chocolate cake for breakfast:

Thursday, April 5, 2012


With the weather warming across the west, camping season is creeping upon us.

It's prime season right now for places like Moab and its surrounding areas-- and there are so many magical places to explore in south east Utah!  

As Utah gets too hot, Medano Creek will start to flow at Great Sand Dunes National Park.  This is the perfect place to take little ones to splash in the water and wallow in the sand-- a taste of the beach in Colorado!

As summer gets into full swing we'll be able to camp closer to home, in the mountains-- places like Rocky Mountain National Park, and all the "secret" little places out on the forest around us that we've discovered.

These are just some of our favorite places we've camped before-- and we continue to explore more (Dinosaur National Monument this summer?)...
And, one of my favorite things to do while we're out is to cook.  My Dutch oven is my favorite tool--

but I've got a few other things in my portable kitchen, too.

I'm excited to share some of these things and some tricks we've learned over the years as the camping season progresses.

But even more so, I'm excited to get my wild little boys outside where they belong!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

carrot cake•oatmeal

I'm in a bit of a rut.  Blog-wise (I'm just not feeling the inspiration lately, but I'm still hoping to get something new out once a week) and in other ways in which I don't feel like sharing with the general internet public...
Actually-- why not? 
I'm sure many of you reading this are parents, or have felt this way at some point for some other reason...  
And that is, simply, I'm getting burnt out.  I feel lately like I'm running in circles, getting nowhere but in a place with more laundry, more dirty house, more groceries to shop for, more dirty diapers to change, and more petty arguments with my incredibly strong-willed four-year old.
I know I should be better than this-- just generally feeling sorry for myself.  But I'm not-- not lately anyway.
And I know I'll get out of this rut eventually, but in the mean time, some comfort food might help.

And why not have this for dinner?  It's quick, nutritious, and cuts down on a bit of meal time bickering with Owen (breakfast for dinner is always seen as a treat at our house).

Hmm--  I think I'm starting to feel less sorry for myself already...

the veggies:
  • 2 cups oats
  • 6 cups water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling on top (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 TBS flax meal
  • cream cheese, for garnish
  • about 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

the love:

  1. Combine the oats, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  
  2. Stir in the spices, syrup, carrots, and raisins and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until oats are a good consistency.
  3. Stir in the flax meal, then dish out the oatmeal into bowls.
  4. Top each serving with a dollop of cream cheese, a sprinkling of walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup, if you'd like.  And stop feeling sorry for yourself, already...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This is another one of my cheater meals. We had  it last night.

It's so good. 
Too good not to tell you about it again. 
And I might remind you about it again after this...
Owen doesn't like the smell of it.  And probably not the taste either (it's slightly spicy).  This is fine with me and Brock, because if he wanted any we'd have to share it with him.  And we are fully capable of polishing off the whole batch between just the two of us.  So, we foster his dislike for it and call it "stinky tofu".  
Is this dishonest?
In any case, the kids were perfectly happy with their Annie's mac & cheese with peas.  And those of us mature enough to handle it get this deliciousness...

the veggies:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 14 to 16 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (optional)
  • about 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 packet of Frontera roasted tomato + mild red chile skillet sauce (or about 8 oz of some other slightly spicy Mexican- or New Mexican-style sauce)
  • 4 to 6 Tortilla Land uncooked tortillas, or your favorite brand of tortilla (the fewer ingredients the better)
  • shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, crumbled queso fresco-- whatever you want to put on top

the love:

  1. Put a large heavy skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Add the oil.  
  2. Gently smash the tofu between two plates to drain out some excess water.  Pat dry, slice into cubes, then pat those dry again.
  3. Throw the tofu in the hot skillet and spread the tofu out so one side of the tofu can fry in the oil.  Let it get crisp on one side before carefully turning.  Continue until almost every side is done.  Be careful not to stir too much or you'll end up with a scramble.
  4. In the mean time, heat up another heavy skillet and cook your tortillas, about 30 seconds per side, until flecked with golden spots.  Less is more with these-- they get crunchy when overcooked.
  5. When your tofu is almost done, add the onions (if using) and carefully turn a few times until the onions start to become translucent.  Then add the peppers and carefully turn a couple times until the onions are done and the peppers start to become tender.  
  6. Add the corn and dump on the sauce.  Turn carefully to distribute and let it simmer for a few minutes while you finish up the tortillas and prep some toppings.
  7. Put a generous scoop of tofu on a freshly cooked tortilla, finish with some cheese and lettuce (or whatever else sounds good), and enjoy.  
  8. Mmmm...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

bread•cheese & fruit

I had a parenting class to get to last night, and about an hour from the time Brock got home from work to when I had to leave to make dinner and eat with everyone.  Perfect night for bread, cheese and fruit-- an old fave.  This one was featured in one of my first posts, cheater•meals, but it had been a while since we'd had it.   
I'd forgotten how easy, yummy and kid-pleasing it is.  Take 10 minutes to dig through the fridge and pantry for whatever looks good then slice a few things, arrange them on a platter, and you're done.

Last night, I found some smoked gouda, grape tomatoes, pistachios, pears, strawberries, sharp white cheddar, blackberries, hummus, some crackers, and white and whole grain french breads.  
So easy, and everyone's happy.  

Just as long as we can stand Owen asking for more blackberries every two minutes.

And I had plenty of time to have a nice relaxed dinner (between dishing out additional servings of blackberries) before heading out the door...