“It’s so stupid. It’s laundry…why are we fighting about laundry and yard work? I mean seriously, let’s just wear dirty clothes and hire a lawn man. It’s not worth it.”
Last week was not good. It was a long, hard, hanging on by a thread in every way possible kind of way of week. The kind of week that drives you to a tearful angry clash over laundry … and yard work … because everything feels overwhelming … and because, as I told my mom in a pity party email, “I suck at everything this week–mothering, marriage, career.”
This is what the transition to football widow looks like in our home every year. It’s a big ugly awful transition from having our husband/daddy home 24-7 to him working seven days a week….long late hours several of those days. I dread it with every fiber in me…and then it somehow is even worse than I anticipated it would be. Jared assures me it gets better, I’m telling myself I always adjust and survive. I’m hoping that’s true again…though I’ve never had a toddler, a book deadline, and a new book release all in one football season. At least I won’t suffer of boredom like I did back in our newlywed days….that’s for sure.
Aside from the real possibilities of wearing dirty clothes and hiring a lawn man, I need a better vision for this season. So I’m working on this. Not a plan so much as a shift in attitude, in focus, a survivors guide of sorts. I’m jotting down some sanity savers for the school year. It’s Wednesday afternoon and so far, I have yet to melt down this week. Maybe they are working.
- Pray. Often. Quietly. Out loud. Whenever I think I need Jared. Because really, I probably actually need Jesus.
- Go Away. I’m going to try and getaway for a writing weekend once a month. I’m calling in Grandparents and friends and getting away to do my bulk of writing in short intense weekend spurts, because that’s how my mind works best.
- Wake Up Early. I am NOT a morning person, but now that I have a toddler who, bless his adorable heart, drains every ounce of energy from me by his 8:00pm bedtime, I’m no longer a night person either. So I’m trying to wake up early to be with God, my thoughts, and my writing…and coffee, probably lots of coffee. I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling on this one!
- Plan/shop for meals every two weeks. I will go major grocery shopping every other Sunday night while Jared is home with Jackson, so I know what is for dinner every night….and I can do the big shopping alone (the only way I enjoy this chore).
- Double and freeze meals as often as I cook (when possible). I’ve been cooking big and filling up my freezer this week and it feels so good to have pizza, falafel, bean burritos, pinto beans, cupcakes, extra chopped veggies and fruits, and Jackson’s morning oatmeal all ready when I need something quick.
- Apply to start a home group. This seems kind of counter intuitive…but our current group meets on Thursday nights and we can’t make it because of football and bedtimes, so we are going to try and start one every other Sunday afternoon, because we need people to invest in, because we don’t want to get lost in our little world that revolves around ourselves and football.
- Stay involved in MOPS, because these women are my girls…they are in the trenches of motherhood with me and they understand me and will pray for me when I ask them to and make me laugh when I think I’m going to fall apart. I stepped down from my steering team role, which was sad and hard, but the right choice. And now, for this season, I will let MOPS do what it does best, minister to my often overwhelmed mother heart…and equip me to be a better mom. Better Moms Make a Better World.
- Dig in the dirt. I’m going to devote time to dig in the dirt with Jackson, to go on slow picking up sticks and rocks along the way walks, build things with him on his workbench…without looking at my phone or quickly checking to see what email just popped in my inbox. Focused time with him, so his cup will be full when I do need to focus on something else.
- Savor nap time. I have a child that sleeps during the day. That’s awesome. It will end at some point…and until it does…oh I will savor that time, from the sweet snuggles while we read and rock to the quiet time to write, reflect, and decompress from busy mornings while he’s sleeping.
- Declare evenings stress-free. At about 5:00pm, my ability to handle stress goes way down. I might just declare a daily dance party in the kitchen at 5:00 to signal that the day is over and the stress free night has begun. Think I can convince a two-year old to go along with this?
I talked with some other coach’s wives at a coach’s cookout this week. One reminded me that the season is not very long, really just three to four months. Another whose husband was in the military before this gave me a little perspective about what it really feels like for your husband to be away while you’re raising young kids. Any other wisdom from coach’s wives, writer mamas, work-at-home moms? What are you doing to try and stay sane this fall? 🙂
As part of my meal plan last week, which believe it or not, made the week go WAAAAAY smoother than it could have gone, I made a huge pot of crockpot pinto beans. We ate them with Mushroom & Spinach Mole Enchiladas one night and Roasted Butternut Squash Mole Enchiladas another night. (I will share this recipe next time I make them. Let me just tell you, they were fantastic and I will be making them again…but I did not have the energy for the extra food blogging steps this time. Sorry!) Then I made several bean burritos to freeze for back up meals or quick lunches, and still I froze some extra pintos to reheat for future meals. I always forget how long the crockpot actually takes…they call it a slow cooker for a reason, but it’s worth the wait. Just plan ahead!
Crockpot Pinto Beans
Makes 5-6 quarts
2 pounds dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed and soaked*
2 onions, quartered
6 cloves, garlic (gently smashed and peels removed)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
approx 10 cups water
2-4 teaspoons salt
Equipment: 6-quart or larger crockpot (halve recipe for smaller crockpots), strainer
*Cover beans with lots of water. Let sit overnight at room temperature and rinse or follow package instructions for the quick soak method.
Put soaked beans in your crockpot. Pour water over the top until they are covered about an inch (to your thumb knuckle).
Add onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir.
Cover crockpot. Put on high. (My crockpot doesn’t seem to get very hot, even on high, so I cooked mine on high the whole time.) If you notice the liquid bubbling, lower your crockpot to medium. (If you do this in the morning before work, put it on high while you are getting ready, then lower it to medium or low while you are at work. Crank it back up when you get home if they aren’t done.)
Cook for five hours, or until the beans are cooked through. Add two teaspoons of salt, tilt lid to let some of the liquid evaporate, and cook for one more hour. Add more salt if needed. I used four teaspoons in ours.
You can eat them just like this or make refried beans.
Scoop beans, onions & garlic with a slotted spoon into a food processor, process until desired consistency, adding cooking liquid as needed. If you plan on freezing or reheating, add a little extra liquid because they thicken each time you reheat them. (You can also do this in a big pan on medium low heat with a little oil and just mash them until they are the desired consistency.)
To freeze refried beans: Put cooled leftovers into glass jars or ziptop bags and freeze.
Defrost overnight in the fridge (or in a bowl of luke warm water), pour into a pan and heat on the stove top to desired temperature or consistency.
Scoop beans into a warm tortilla. Fold into a burrito with seam side down on a cookie sheet. Repeat. Freeze on the cookie sheet. Wrap each frozen burrito in saran wrap or sandwich baggies. To reheat, remove from plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel, reheat in microwave for 60 seconds on each side until heated through (2-3 minutes).
Last week, we went on a long beach vacation to our favorite place in the world, the quaint little Island of Little Gasparilla. I wrote about it in our food memoir We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook (in stores next week.) It’s where Jared and I got married, where we took Jackson for his first beach experience, and where Jared’s family has been vacationing for twenty years. To put it mildly, it’s a special place for our family.
We took along the Mimi because we love her and Jackson loves her…and well, we knew it was the only way we’d get any alone time. Thanks to her, Jared and I enjoyed an amazing all vegan dinner at Vino Loco Tapas and Wine Bar one night to celebrate our sixth anniversary. We were the only diners (it’s off season right now), and we got special treatment from the chef, who hand delivered each organic, well-thought out plate to our table. Simple flavorful food made with quality organic ingredients that let the veggies be the star. My kind of food! And then there was vegan gelato made out of almond milk. Oh my. The gelato was so amazing, we swung by on our way home to get more for the long road home…and to share with Jackson and Mimi who missed out the first time. I ate my scoop with one of Jackson’s leftover chocolate birthday cupcakes. I can’t remember the last time I had cake and ice cream. It was like a party in my mouth.
Did I say chocolate cupcakes up there? Oh yes! My sweet Jackson turned two on Saturday….and my usually healthy little eater has a dark secret. He loves nothing more than chocolate cupcakes. I used my go-to Chocolate Cupcake Recipe from Chow.com. They are quick and easy and don’t call for any weird ingredients. I subbed almond milk, whole wheat flour, and coconut oil this time (working with our limited pantry on the island). They didn’t rise quite as much as the first time I made them with canola and white flour, but they were still fluffy and delicious…and healthier. 🙂 We skipped icing in lieu of a dusting of powdered sugar. We aren’t much of an icing family…and it’s usually just fat and sugar anyway. We let him blow the powdered sugar on his cupcake instead of blowing out a candle. He thought that was WAY fun!
Happy Birthday Jackson! I have a feeling we have an adventurous year ahead! Twos = double the fun, right?
In honor of Jackson turning two, we’re giving away TWO early release copies of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook! Jackson just so happens to be a pretty big star in the book….so it seems fitting. To enter the giveaway, simply like our facebook page and leave us a comment HERE ON THE BLOG telling us you’ve done so. A birthday wish to Jackson would be like powdered sugar on the cupcake though. 🙂 Be sure to include the name that you use on Facebook so we can verify your entry and fill in the email section of our contact form so we can contact you if you are a winner.
Giveaway ends on at midnight central time Friday, August 2nd, We’ll pick the winners using a random number generator. Winners will have 24 hours to contact us before we choose another name.
There comes a time in every gardener’s life when they ask themselves, “What am I going to do with all these tomatoes?” And until that day comes for me, I will pull up my dead plants with my black thumbs, quietly curse those gardeners under my breath, and smile graciously when they offer up some of their overwhelming bounty to me.
I’ll display them on the counter for a day or so until I can’t take their mockery anymore.
And then I will cook my way out of despair.
And remember the gifts I can offer my family, even if a plentiful vegetable garden is not one of them.
Instead, I will slow roast my way into their hearts with sweet peppers, carrots, onions, and garlic (store bought, but flavorful nonetheless), garden tomatoes (generously given to this less fortunate gardener), and a few sad looking twigs of rosemary and oregano (just barely surviving in my garden of doom).
And I’ll bring those flavors together in one delightful pureed sauce. My husband will declare that he may never eat jarred sauce again. My toddler will slurp his pasta up with messy reckless abandon. And I will stand over the pot eating the sweet rich roasted sauce by the spoonful, my self esteem having made a complete (near manic) turn for the better.
For those of you who feel the need to do something good and right by your family, I give you this recipe. It will restore their faith in you, and your faith in yourself.
Roasted Tomato and Sweet Pepper Pasta Sauce
- ~ 3 pounds of tomatoes (I don’t have a scale, but I used about 12-15 smallish tomatoes), cut in half
- ~15 mini sweet peppers (or 3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers), cut in half and seeded
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 red onion, quartered
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 twigs fresh rosemary, removed from stem (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregeno, removed from stem (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 teapoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon molasses (or brown sugar)
- Handful of fresh parsley, rough chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Other: 1 lb pasta, cooked (I used whole wheat thin spaghetti, use gluten-free if needed)
Heat oven to 400. Put chopped vegetables and herbs on a large deep-sided sheet pan. Stuff the garlic cloves into the tomatoes so they don’t burn. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Carefully pour the veggies and their sauces into a pot on the stove and use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the veggies cool to room temperature, then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Then pour into a pot on the stove.) Add parsley, salt, and molasses. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. My sauce was thick already, so I simmered with the lid on, but if you have really juicy tomatoes, you may want to simmer with the lid off until you reach the desired consistency. Check for seasoning. Adding more salt or molasses (adds sweetness and cuts acidity) as needed.
Make it Salsa: This base recipe could easily be turned into a salsa by switching up the seasonings — add a few jalapenos and cilantro, omit rosemary, oregeno, and parsley. Pulse in the food processor for a chunkier version. Would be delicious served hot or cold with chips.
Make it Soup: Add a little broth or cream for a delicious roasted tomato and pepper soup.
Make it a Meal: While you’re simmering the sauce and the oven is still hot, roast up some chickpeas tossed in olive oil and Italian seasoning for a crunchy protein-filled topping. Wilt some spinach into the sauce in the last five minutes to sneak in some greens.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Jackson is 22 months old now and at that stage where he’s learning new words every day and starting to string together words to make phrases and sentences like these:
“Hoo Hoo” (Whoohoo whith his hands thrown in the air.)
“Cool man” (I don’t know where he picked up this phrase, but it’s super cute.)
“Yayyy, I did it!” (Even if he didn’t actually do whatever IT is, he celebrates every little effort with such enthusiasm. It’s contagious.)
“Leeeeeet’s GO!” (That combined with “Run momma” is turning him into a little personal trainer!)
“Yes.” (Finally, he is saying “yes,” instead of always “no,” in the most adorably assertive and confident way.)
Of course, with this precious phase, also comes the less than adorable phrases, like “Chur turn” (Your turn…which actually means my turn. And it’s always “chur turn”) and “Miiiine!”
My favorite phrase of late, though, is “Tank choo ma ma.” He emphasizes each syllable and I can tell he really has to work to say it. It’s a sweet labor of love and it’s reserved for his truly most satisfying moments of deep gratitude, like when I served him chocolate “ice cream” made of bananas and cocoa for a morning snack last week. “Choc! Tank choo ma ma!”
This idea for banana soft serve has been circulating for years. It’s not new, but I’ve turned a few people toward it this week with my Instagram picture of Jackson enjoying his morning ice cream treat and thought maybe some of our readers have yet to try it as well. The basic recipe is just frozen bananas processed in a blender. It’s magical! The bananas just whip right into a thick creamy soft serve that is delicious on it’s own. You can make all sorts of flavors: chocolate peanut butter, strawberry banana, cinnamon and sugar…wherever your taste buds take you. This version is one of my favorites. You can use peanut butter instead of peanuts, but I really love the texture and flavor from the whole peanuts.
Ready in under five minutes, it makes the perfect healthy summer snack, or even breakfast. You’ll earn some serious cool mom or dad points putting a bowl of this in front of your kids first thing in the morning!
Banana Nut Soft Serve
2 frozen bananas, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons peanuts (I used organic unsalted)
sprinkle of sea salt (unless peanuts are salted)
Put ingredients in a food processor and blend, stopping and scraping the sides as needed until it turns to the texture of a thick soft serve ice cream. Then stop. You don’t want to over blend or it will have more of a melty soft serve texture (not bad, but not as good either).
For this portion size, I use the smallest bowl on my food processor so I don’t have to stop and scrape the sides as often. (It will be very loud at first, that’s okay, just be prepared.)
Serve immediately with a few extra peanuts and another sprinkle of sea salt on top for some extra crunch. I’ve heard this does not refreeze well, though I’ve never had any left to try. 🙂 You can buy yourself a little time keeping it chilled in the freezer, but it’s best to serve right away.
Have you made Banana Soft Serve?
What are your favorite flavor combinations?
What are your favorite toddler phrases and phases?
A little book update:
Zondervan, our publisher, has been so supportive of our book (coming out August 6). We’re having such a great publishing experience! They just decided to do an audio version of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and invited my mom and I to record it. One of us will be recording in the studio most of the week, each of us having two 5-7 hour days in studio. Prayers for good health appreciated. The following week I’m heading to Colorado (with Jackson in tow) to join mom for a photo shoot for a major Christian publication. We’re so grateful for all the encouragement and support we’ve received…and for our fabulous readers at the blog.
We also got all of the endorsements in for the book. Wow! We are floored by the generosity of our fellow authors. Click on the picture of the book above to read the endorsements and find lots of knew authors to friend and follow.
Last week Jackson and I flew to Colorado to stay at my mom’s for a few days. It was one of the best visits we’ve had there. Jackson adores his Nonny and Poppy and he’s finally big enough to really play with his big cousin George, whom he thinks hung the moon. Jackson asks for George every day. Every single day. So we watch a lot of videos to hold him over between visits. And George is so good and patient with his little cousin.
The day we flew in, May 1, it snowed and snowed and snowed all day. Not your typical spring visit, but we made the best of it. It’s not every year you see snow in May.
The next day, we had pictures scheduled for the book. The sun came out, the snow mostly melted and we were able to get some great shots thanks to our fabulous photographer Molly McMillan. This one will be used for the back cover.
Because one of us is usually behind the camera, I don’t have many pictures of me and my mom. These pictures are one of the many blessings that have come from doing this blog and book together.
After the photo shoot, we were pretty wiped out…and hungry! We both declared we were retiring from our one-day modeling career. Way too much work and not enough food!
With my sister-in-law Julie heading back to the house with the boys and Greg (mom’s husband) on his way home, we quickly transitioned from top models to cooks in the kitchen. Mom was going to run to the grocery store to get fixins for Messy Greek Sandwiches and Reubens and I’d get started on some kind of soup to go along. I rummaged through her pantry and held up a bag of lentils, “How about lentil soup?” “Perfect! I’ve had those lentils for months and wasn’t sure what to do with them,” she admitted. “Oh it’s so easy,” I told her. “It takes no time to get started and will be finished simmering by the time you’re back from the store.” Mom headed to the grocery store and I got started chopping onions and carrots. By the time Julie walked in with Jackson and George, I had the soup covered and simmering, happy to step out of my author/foodie hat and into mommy and auntie role again.
Mom came home from the store and said the house smelled just like her Nonny’s, my great grandmother’s, kitchen. I didn’t know her well, but I’ve heard story after story of her in the kitchen. She was quite the cook. One of my favorite pictures of her is one of her standing in her old 1950s kitchen with a yellow apron tied around her neck. Something about recreating the comforting tastes and smells from her kitchen makes me feel connected to her. I can imagine her cooking up a simple soup like this to feed her nine children on their very tight budget.
What foods and smells bring back childhood memories for you?
Simple Lentil Soup
Makes 3.5 quarts
1/2 cup onion (~1 small or 1/4 big onion), diced
4 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
Olive oil (enough to coat pan)
1 lb lentils, sorted for rocks and rinsed
8 cups veggie broth (2 quarts)
1 32 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons steak seasoning
Salt to taste (may not need if broth has salt)
In a large pot, sauté onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil (or 1/2 cup of broth for a no fat version) with a pinch of salt until softened. Add lentils and tomatoes and broth. Cover and bring to boil. Uncover and lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer on med low for 20-30 min until lentils are cooked through. Season with steak seasoning and salt if needed.
I served this with crackers, roasted brussel sprouts, and smoky garlicky collard greens. It was husband and toddler approved.
Notes: I’ve found the type of pan and burner I use causes cook times to vary a lot. My heavy duty pans cook much quicker on my flat top stove than my old cheapies that don’t have that nice heavy flat bottoms…so cooking times may vary. It took closer to 45 minutes to cook on my mom’s gas stove top, but I think I may have left the pot uncovered there. If your pots tend to heat up slowly, give yourself some extra time.
I have to admit, I’ve not been doing a lot of recipe creating lately. With the book editing and recipe testing process, I think I’ve caught a case of creativity burnout. When this happens, I know it’s time to break out my cookbooks and open up my pinterest boards and go back to where my passion for cooking began: following recipes. Following a good recipe is like doing a puzzle. Corners go here, edges go there, this piece goes here, this piece goes there … and before you know it you’ve methodically created something new and complete … and lovely … and hopefully delicious, in the case of recipes.
When I haven’t been following other people’s recipes lately, I’ve been throwing together salads and smoothies from the greens in my garden. This is my first year to have a garden. I’ve already killed all the tomatoes and peppers and most of the herbs, but my greens are growing like weeds. I’ve not made anything terribly innovate with them yet, but oh my goodness, the simple pleasure of walking out my back door, picking some fresh spinach or swiss chard and enjoying a meal with it minutes later. I have been missing out!
I plan on doing a garden post and a recipe round up post soon with some of the hits during my recipe creating hiatus and my adventures as a newbie gardener.
Though my creativity neurons took a leave of absence, I think they may be slowly returning. I’ve made a few very simple recipes the last few days that have knocked my socks off. Like canteloupe dressed with honey, lime, and cayenne pepper or Tajin seasoning. So simple, yet so delicious. Or like yesterdays breakfast, a Trail Mix Parfait: layered ingredients you’d typically find in trail mix, like nuts and seeds and dried fruit and chocolate, slightly warmed and topped with diced bananas. Can I just say, yum!! I just had it again and thought, maybe I finally have a recipe worth blogging after my long dry spell. It’s kind of a recipe that’s almost not a recipe, but it’s so good, it’s worth putting out there anyway. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Other noteworthy updates:
- I’m guest pinning this week at The Christian Mama’s Guide facebook page on Cooking with Kids. Come join us there for fun ideas to get your kids excited about food. Just in time for summer when the kids will be home “helping” you in the kitchen, whether you like it or not!
- My lovely co-blogger and mother had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I totally missed a chance to do a birthday post. Mom, I love you! Happy Birthday. I cannot believe we get to share so much of our life together, from work to play, even when we are far away.
- Jackson and I are heading to Colorado this week to spend a few days at my mom’s. We’re taking publicity pictures for the book, having a meeting with our editor about the next book, and hopefully spending some quality time cooking together in the kitchen … with Jackson and my nephew George sitting on the counter helping us. 🙂
And now for that recipe I promised….
Trail Mix Parfaits
1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts–I like unsalted walnuts or pecans best)
2 tablespoons dried fruit (like raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, or bananas)
1 tablespoon seeds (like hemp, sunflower, chias, or sesame)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (I like the dairy-free, soy-free ones by Enjoy Life)
2 tablespoons diced bananas or yogurt (like So Delicious Coconut Yogurt)
In a glass bowl or glass, layer nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and chocolate chips. Warm in microwave for 30 seconds or until chocolate just starts to melt. Don’t let chocolate burn. Top with bananas and/or yogurt. Enjoy.
About a month before I switched to a plant-based diet, I perfected the fried egg. I wasn’t much of a cook back then, so this was a big accomplishment and it quickly became my go-to breakfast. When we gave up eggs, I must admit, I was a little bummed that I only had a month to enjoy my perfected egg-frying skills. I’m over it now and I’ve learned some great ways to substitute eggs in my cooking: tofu scramble breakfast tacos and flax eggs and chia eggs for baking, but the fried egg seemed impossible to duplicate, until I got this idea to use a fried potato as the fluffy egg white and avocado as the creamy yolk. A “green egg” if you will.
For those transitioning to a vegan diet and facing those early egg cravings or for those just looking for something different than the traditional egg breakfast, this potato and avocado “fried egg” is delicious. It’s really hard to go wrong with fried anything, right? I could see using this green egg for a vegan eggs Benedict too, stacked on an English muffin with a creamy vegan hollandaise.
Try them! Try them! You will see. These green eggs are so easy. You can eat them in a box. You can eat them with a fox. You can make them for a friend, maybe during a relaxing weekend. You will like green eggs. You’ll see. Especially with tortillas, beans and ranchero sauce. Spicy!
(A Vegan Version of Huevos Rancheros)
Makes 4 servings
1/2 medium-sized onion,diced
1 garlic clove, diced or minced
3 small sweet peppers, red, yellow, or orange (or 1/2 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper), diced
~ 1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup green chili peppers (or 4-ounce can)
~1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
~1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, to taste (can also blend in 1/4 of a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce)
1 russet potato sliced thin (about a 1/4 inch thick–you want about 12 rounds or 3 per serving)
Oil to coat pan
Salt & pepper
4 Tortillas (smaller taco sized ones, not the big burrito ones)
1 Avocado, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Refried pinto beans (I actually used leftover cajun red beans, cooked down and smashed)
Cilantro or chopped green onions (optional garnish)
In a deep-sided skillet or medium sauce pan, saute onion, peppers, and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft. Add the tomatoes and green chilis and simmer for about 10 minutes. Transfer to blender (or use immersion blender) and blend until combined into a thick sauce, blend in salt and chipotle powder to taste. Transfer back to skillet and keep warm.
In a separate skillet (iron skillet works well for this), heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium heat (about a 1/8 inch thick).* Add a single layer of potato rounds and pan fry for 2-3 minutes per side until golden on the outside and soft in the middle (think texture of a french fry.) Transfer potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Repeat, adding oil to pan as needed, until all the rounds are fried.
In the same pan used to fry potatoes, drain off excess oil and warm tortillas.
Working quickly to keep food from getting cold, put each tortilla on a plate, smear tortillas with refried beans, down the middle stagger stacks of a potato round topped with an avocado round. Top with warm ranchero sauce and optional garnish of cilantro and/or green onions. Serve immediately. Eat with a fork or pick up and eat it like a taco.
*For a lighter version, toss potatoes in a light coating of olive oil and salt & pepper, line them on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and cook under the broiler for about five minutes on each side or until cooked through (like these Blistery Balsamic Potato Chips).
* Make it kid-friendly: (leave off the sauce or make a milder version without the chili peppers or chipotle powder)
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Potatoes Rancheros (Vegan Huevos Rancheros)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Vz
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
Rachel (the daughter)
Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t like mushrooms. She took much care to avoid them until one day, her restaurant manager made her taste Chicken Marsala. She tasted the chicken with the sauce and pushed the mushrooms to the side. The sauce was heavenly. On her lunch break, she craved that yummy rich sweet sauce, so she ordered the Chicken Marsala without the mushrooms. She was sad. The sauce was not the same. Maybe, she thought, I do like the taste of mushrooms but not mushrooms themselves. The next day, she ordered it again and ate around the mushrooms. The sauce was delightful once again. It seems mushrooms added a depth of flavor she loved. She often rewarded herself at the end of a long waitressing shift with her new favorite dish. As time went on, she got brave and occasionally tried a little bite of mushroom with the chicken. Maybe, she thought, I do like mushrooms … but only in this dish.
Years later, the girl gave up meat and found that mushrooms were actually delicious in many dishes if you know how to cook them. Now that she loved mushrooms, she was sad that she missed out on the best part of chicken marsala for so long. So she decided to make a vegan ‘chicken’ marsala using crispy eggplant. It was everything she hoped it would be and more. And she was very happy.
16 oz whole wheat spaghetti or choice of pasta, cooked
1 small Eggplant (peeled and sliced into 12 quarter inch thick slices)
1 cup flour
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
2 cups Panko bread crumbs seasoned with 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoing, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, and a little salt & pepper)
1/2 medium sized yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced or diced
16 oz mushrooms (any variety), sliced thin
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan margarine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups Marsala Wine
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
salt & pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
Place eggplant in colander or between paper towels and sprinkle it with salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to remove moisture. Pat dry with clean paper towels when done.
Heat a large skillet (preferably heavy stainless steel or iron) on medium high heat. Add Earth Balance and olive oil and let it heat up. Add mushrooms and cook until they’ve browned and shrunk quite a bit in size. Stir in onions and garlic, reduce heat if needed so garlic doesn’t burn, saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Pour in 1/2 cup of wine and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in one tablespoon of flour and slowly add the rest of the wine and veggie broth. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, remove lid and simmer until liquid is reduced to about half. If it’s not thick enough, stir in a little more flour and keep cooking down. Season to taste with salt & fresh cracked pepper. Stir in pasta noodles and cover to keep warm.
In another skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil (or your choice of oil) on medium heat. Set up an assembly line with shallow bowls of flour, milk, and seasoned panko bread crumbs. Dip eggplant slices in milk, then flour, then milk again, then bread crumbs. Put in single layer in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden brown. Remove slices to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat in batches until all eggplant is cooked.
Serve the marsala pasta topped with crispy eggplant and sprinkled with parsley. Or serve the eggplant to the side of the pasta if you want to keep it crispy longer.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Crispy Eggplant Marsala (Vegan)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Uk
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
Jackson, now 18-months, has discovered chocolate. This morning, Jared brought him from his crib to our bed where I was still sleeping. Jackson pushed my arm off my face and pulled and pulled until I finally rolled out of the bed. He led me by hand straight to the pantry, pointed up to a Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips and proclaimed “Choc!”
I should probably be worried that his first waking thought is chocolate, but truthfully, I’m a little excited that I have another chocolate lover in the house. Jared doesn’t eat it, so I rarely make decadent chocolate desserts. There is just something depressing about eating chocolate alone. Soon, though, I’ll have a buddy to split a piece of chocolate cake with or to make brownies for!
In the meantime, as fun as it will one day be, I’m not encouraging my toddler’s chocolate eating habits just yet. Valentine’s Day is Thursday and I’m sure he’ll have encouragement enough from everyone else between now and then!
Besides his new word “choc,” he also learned the word “pouch” this week, as in fruit and veggie squeeze pouches. He loves them just as much as chocolate. It’s so funny, the words he picks up on. I put together these cute valentines bags for his Mother’s Day Out class tonight. For the girls, a bright red Ella’s Kitchen Organic Strawberry Apple squeeze pouch with a “You’re My Main SQUEEZE” tag. And for the boys, a Peach & Banana one with a “You’re My Main Squeeze, Man” tag. That’s tough right? 🙂
If you’re looking for healthy Valentine’s Day gifts for babies and preschoolers, this is so easy! It may be a little pricy for a big class, but at this age class sizes are usually quite small. We just had five classmates to buy for, so the whole project was $12 including the bags and tags.
I know some of the mama’s of the kids in Jackson’s class and I know they’ll be glad to see at least one treat they can gladly let their kiddo have from their Valentine’s Day goodie bag, no guilt, no arguing, no “you can have one piece after dinner” negotiations.