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Friday, November 10, 2017

Tamale Pie


It has been really cold here lately.  We even had snow (twice!) in the last week, which is pretty out of the ordinary for the PNW.  I was craving some tamale pie the other day, and discovered a bag of masa hiding out in my cupboard.  I searched through every cookbook that I had for something mildly authentic, and realized... yeah, tamale pie is probably made up by white people.  :)  Regardless, I persevered!


Tamale Pie: 

1 bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes
Half of a bag of Morningstar Farms crumbles/other fake meat (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 c. dry masa
1 3/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt

In a large pan, heat about 2 tsp. olive oil, or spray the pan with cooking spray.  Cook the onion, pepper, garlic, until they are cooked through and the onion is translucent.  Add the spices, beans, crumbles, tomatoes, and corn, and cook for 10 minutes. 

While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the masa, water, oil, and salt in a small bowl.  Take the pan off of the heat, and add some water if it seems dry, about half a cup.  Sprinkle the cheese on top, and then spoon the masa mixture on top of that.  Try to spread it out a little.  Cook at 350* for 30 minutes, until all of the topping is brown and cooked through.  

Serve with avocado, sour cream. or salsa.



Saturday, November 4, 2017

Halloween Candy Houses


Z decided that she wanted to make some houses out of her Halloween candy.  After perusing the internet for some ideas, we decided that the best route was to use graham crackers as the base of the house. and use frosting for glue.  (I wasn't against the idea of using cardboard, but she really wanted to be able to eat everything.)  She drew out a whole plan, and gathered up the ingredients.


First, I made some chocolate frosting with melted chocolate chips, butter, coconut milk, and powdered sugar. (We just did a small amount, so probably about 2 handfuls of chocolate chips and about 2 1/2 Tbsp. of butter.)  Then I experimented with a few ways to get the house to stand up.  I ended up using frosting as cement on the plate, then using a cracker as the base of the house, smushed the 4 sides around it.  It took more effort than I expected!  Then, I let Z start on her house, mostly with decorations.


 After carefully getting the roofs (rooves?) on, they needed a bit more to stay stabilized.  Since we had already unwrapped so much candy, we used some Twix to hold them on.  I threw some sprinkles on mine, and Z looked for ways to make lollipop trees stand up.

Success!

Peppermint patties were the perfect size and consistency to act as tree bases.  (and since none of us really like them, it wasn't such a loss.)  The M&Ms were a little too heavy to stay on as decorations, but we persevered!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Breakfast Polenta


I am sick of oatmeal.  I will eat it if I'm starving and everyone else is asleep, but in general, it just doesn't fill me up like it used to.  Enter Breakfast Polenta!  Inspired by an old post by Joy the Baker, I've been making this at least once or twice a week for breakfast around here.  I prefer the savory type, with onions, cheese, and soysages. (and sometimes a rogue avocado or two!)

Here's how we do it:

Breakfast Polenta (serves 2)

1/2 small onion, diced
2 tsp. olive oil
1 c. dry polenta
2 1/2 c. veggie broth
1/2 c. milk
1/2 Tbsp.ish butter
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 soysages (I use Morningstar Farms)
a couple handfuls of raw spinach, rinsed
1 avocado (if you like), or diced tomato
Salt and pepper
Smoked Paprika

Heat a small pot to medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and the onions, and cook until they are translucent.  Turn down the heat if they start to burn, and add a little water.  (My secret? Throw an ice cube or two in there.)

Once the onions seem done, add the vegetable broth.  Slowly drizzle/whisk in the dry polenta.  (Don't want any lumps around here!)  Turn down the heat to medium low.  Keep the milk at the ready, in case the polenta starts spitting everywhere in a dangerous fashion.  Stir!  Once it starts to thicken, stir in the milk and the butter.  Cover it with a screen, if you have one (just to protect yourself and/or your stovetop).  Stir in the spinach and grate your cheese.  Turn down the heat when it starts to get thick again and the spinach has wilted, and mix in the cheese.

If you want to get another pan dirty, you can heat up the soysages in a frying pan.  If you are like me, you will microwave them for 90 seconds.  Once they're hot, chop them up into tiny bits.  Ladle the polenta into bowls, and throw some soysages on top.  Add veggies if you like, and a bit of salt/pepper/smoked paprika to taste.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Little Red Zizi Hood

I set out to make Z a Little Red Riding Hood cloak when she was really little; like 2.  But, the pattern proved to be very high maintenance, and by the time I was actually ready to try again, she had changed sizes, so the I didn't have enough of the original red fabric.  Enter Try #2!  I decided to use fleece this time, and just use the really cute lining material for the hood and pockets.  


I had this pattern (McCall's 6431) in my stash, so I decided to Frankenstein together the parts that I liked.  We opted for the version with the hood and no zipper, and throw in the heart pockets too.




I think it turned out pretty cute!

This is where she started flapping her arms like a chicken.

She really loves it!  She's wearing it all the time now, and I think after cutting out everything, it took me 2 days to put it together. Here are some of my favorite bits:

Pocket detail- how cute are those fairytale bunnies?

Heart clasp detail
Now I'm trying to justify making a cloak for Sage... maybe with a wolf tail? Or bear ears?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Z's 2nd Birthday! (3 years later...)

I can't even, you guys.

I just started looking at my "drafts" folder, and this was in there.



Zizi's 2nd birthday party.. The Hungry Little Caterpillar! I never even published this!!  I made cute dot garlands and pom pom balloons... (and discovered that you can use hot glue on balloons, and they won't pop!)

I also made some cute caterpillar skewers, and we had lots of fruit, like in the story...




And my girl was so little.  A few months later, I was pregnant with Sage, and things like writing got put on the back burner.  Well, at least we can enjoy them now!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Raising Produce-filled Kids

My kids eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Like A LOT.  I've been asked how I've gotten them to this point, and really, it's just a couple of things.

1.) Exposure: I put veggies in most of our foods, sometimes in excessive amounts.  We have cut up veggies and fruit for snacks, usually with a string cheese or some nuts.  I've read that people need up to 30 exposures to a food in order to like it, so we try lots of different things.  In our morning eggs, we typically have mushrooms, spinach, and some veggie sausage.  Today we had some leeks, so I put those in too. (Soo good!)  Once in a while, I add broccoli or bell pepper, but those get mixed reviews from Zizi.  
Our morning veggies today
2.) Cook with them.  When kids make the food, they are more likely to try it.  My guys are really interested in cooking, and want to help most of the time.  This morning, Sage stole an egg before Zizi could crack it, and cracked it himself... all over the counter.  I think he'll be ready to learn for real in about 6 months, but I admire the effort!  Sometimes I wear him on my back when I'm making dinner, so he can see the stove, but is still safe. He loves that!

They don't always want to cook with me, but I give them lots of opportunities to help or just watch.  When Sage was smaller, I would wheel his highchair into the kitchen so he could see what was happening, and he would be contained.

These are a few books we've used this year:



Pretend Soup has lots of step-by-step pictures, so kids can see what to do next, along with parent-friendly instructions all on one page. (I got it at Half-Priced Books for around $5.) Z got it for her birthday a few weeks ago, and we went through it before bed one night.  The next day, she decided to make her own salad, and cut up most of the veggies on her own.  Then she demanded to make lemonade from scratch, since we had some lemons.  I wasn't really in the mood for lemonade, but she squeezed the lemon and added water herself.  

C is for Cooking is a relatively old kids' cookbook that is super cheap on Amazon. ($2 as of this writing).  It's got tons of pictures and has cute names for recipes using the character's names, like "Cookie Monster's 'Me Stuffed' Potatoes" or "Oscar's Quick Dip in the Mud" (chocolate-fruit dip).  We've made a few things from it, including some delicious blueberry bar cookies.

3.) Play with food.  There are TONS of recipes and pictures out there of fun animals/monsters/scenes you can make with vegetables and fruit. We sometimes even do science experiments with food!  Once, we tested out celery and colored water, to see how it sucked up the water. (Honestly, that one didn't work so well.) Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science has some really great experiments, usually with sweet foods.



4.) Give them access to snack foods.  When Zizi is hungry, she gets in the fridge.  Usually the first thing she wants is a pickle or olives.  (She has eaten half a jar of olives in one sitting before.)  I keep leftover chickpeas and beans in jars in the fridge, and the veggie drawers always have things they might eat in them.  Right now, I have: apples (Sage's favorite thing), mushrooms, carrots, celery, and spinach.  Yesterday, I left the room for a few minutes.  When I came back, Sage had put some old sugar snap peas in the stroller, and was walking them around the room.  (My house is kind of a ridiculous place sometimes.)

5.) Give lots of choices: When we try a new food, I give each kid just a little bit.  It doesn't always work, but sometimes they like it right away.  Winter squash is still a hard sell around here, but after I got a spiralizer this summer, they both will eat zucchini if it is cut into zoodles!  Sage is a real fruit lover, but still doesn't eat that many veggies on their own. But, after lots of tries, he now will eat raw carrots, sugar snap peas, and sometimes cucumber or celery.  Don't give up!