I had a bad night last night. One dose of terribly sad news mixed with a dose of mean-spirited, unsolicited criticism from some jerk on Facebook left me living out the whole “We Cry” part of our blog title.
After a restless, tear-filled night, I decided to spend the day doing things that are joyful and comforting.
I swung Jackson on the swing at the park, tickling his chunky little thighs as he swung toward me and making swishing noises as he swung away. He smiled. I smiled. He giggled. I giggled.
Later, we left the hose in his water table running with total disregard for being “green” (sorry planet), creating a waterfall with the overflow. Jackson curiously poked his hand through the cascading water, then got down into a crouching position with his tush in the air and his face almost to the ground and watched the water come down, the droplets splashing against the concrete patio.
We snuggled and read silly books about farm animals. Snorting like a pig gets big laughs around here these days.
We shared a snack from last night’s southern comfort food leftovers, topping collard green potato cakes with a little bit of avocado and a dash of hot sauce (for me). Collard greens, potatoes, and hot sauce…now that’s southern comfort and southern delish!
Today was a much better day, a “We Laugh” kind of day.
Collard Green Potato Cakes
Makes 12 potato cakes
4 potatoes, diced into large chunks
1 T. vegan butter (i.e. Earth Balance)
1/4 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch of collard greens (or kale), chopped into small pieces
2 t. Vegan Wing Sauce* or Hot Sauce (vinegar would work too, if you don’t like spicy food)
Salt & Pepper
Heat oven to 400.
Put the chopped potatoes in a large sauce pan, cover with water, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return to the pan. Add vegan butter and mash the potatoes, leaving them just a little bit chunky.
Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium, add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent. Add the collard greens. (You may have to add a little at a time. The greens will shrink in size after a few minutes, making room in the pan to add more.) Drizzle on the wing or hot sauce. Add a little more olive oil, salt & pepper. Cook until the greens are wilted. Pour onion and greens mixture into the potatoes and combine well.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Form potato cakes (about the size of a small burger) with your hands and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with avocado if you’d like and a splash of hot sauce. Alternatively, you can pan fry them in a little bit of oil on medium heat. I tried it both ways and both were great, but baking is healthier and easier in my opinion.
*Frank’s Wing Sauce is vegan, despite the “natural butter flavoring” listed in the ingredients. If you are vegan, make sure to read the ingredients on wing sauce, some do contain dairy.
This week I made a plan, a very purposeful plan. I decided that if I really wanted to make room in my life for God, fitness, writing, cooking, my husband, and my son, then I needed to live every day intentionally. Sunday morning I made charts and printed off calendars and posted them on the refrigerator door. I was even planning on attempting to skip my beloved morning coffee. I’d just take Jackson for a brisk walk instead.
As life goes, after church Sunday evening Jackson started running his first ever fever and was up most of the night. Then Monday morning at 7:50 am, my door bell rang. I hurried out of my pjs and into a t-shirt and sweats and threw my wild morning curls into a bun. I carried Jackson, still in his pjs, with me to the door, and we were greeted by a girl in her young 20s who looked like her morning routine had closely resembled mine, except she’d thrown on some scrubs instead of sweats.
“I’m here to give you your physical for the life insurance policy,” she said.
My husband had attempted to postpone this appointment, since he realized last minute he couldn’t be there. Apparently they didn’t get the memo. So there I was left alone to answer 4,000 questions about what disease I may or may not have contracted, pee in a cup (I wonder how many times can I talk about peeing on our food blog!), and have my blood drawn as I tried to keep Jackson entertained and contained.
The visit couldn’t have been less pleasant or less awkward. Taking my blood took two tries, leaving one arm bruised and still sore three days later. Apparently, you don’t need any social skills, hygiene, or experience with needles to be an in-home nurse for this company.
My actual plan for the day had included creating a menu for the week and going grocery shopping. With a feverish baby and one immobile arm, I decided productivity was going to have to wait. Which meant whipping up something for dinner out of a few staples in the kitchen. I usually have a block of tofu (I’m not crazy for tofu, so it’s always waiting for me as I get down to the last of my groceries), some sort of veggies left in the crisper, a jar of roasted red peppers, and a box of pre-rinsed quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).
So I made Everything Tofu (tofu coated in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, and garlic powder) topped with a chive Tofutti cream cheese sauce, a simple side of steamed broccoli, and my latest go-to side dish, roasted red pepper quinoa. It’s so easy and with my rice maker it basically cooks itself while I get the rest of dinner made.
The tofu was actually pretty good, but a lot of work. I would have been just as happy with a whole plate of this quinoa and a little broccoli. I immediately regretted not making more (so I’ve doubled the recipe for you guys!)
Tuesday, after another rough night with Jackson, I woke to a clogged milk duct along with a side of fever. Thankfully, we were back to our healthy selves by Wednesday. There is nothing like feeling sick and sleep deprived to make me thankful for a decent night’s rest and my good health. Maybe I’ll even get back to my plan tomorrow, but I may have lost my willpower to forgo coffee. Have any of you successfully quit coffee? Was it really hard? Did you feel better without it?
Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa
1 cup onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 cups quinoa (rinsed if the package doesn’t say it’s already pre-rinsed)
3 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of juice from a jar of roasted red peppers
1 t. salt
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
With a Rice Maker:
In a skillet, saute onions in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and saute a few minutes longer. Transfer the onions and garlic and any remaining oil into the rice maker, add the quinoa, water, salt, and red pepper juice and cover and start the rice cooker. When the rice maker goes off, add in the chopped roasted red peppers.
Note: If your rice maker has a tendency to stick, add about a teaspoon of extra oil & stir the ingredients before cooking.
Without a Rice Maker:
In a medium sauce pan, saute onions in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and saute a few minutes longer. Add the quinoa, water, red pepper juice, & salt to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). When the rice maker goes off, add in the chopped roasted red pepper
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/26/roasted-red-pepper-quinoa
Motherhood has changed me. We just spent an evening discussing life insurance and wills. I wake up before eight a.m. without an alarm. I no longer pee alone. I don’t shower until noon most days (if I shower at all). And I cook every meal while simultaneously pulling my child out of cabinets, trash cans, and the wash machine … or out from between my legs.
My mom snapped this picture of Jackson last time she was here. He pulls up on my pant legs right behind me and completely immobilizes me. I can’t turn around or squat down to get him or he’ll fall over. Cooking like this is challenging to say the least.
So I love a meal that is quick and easy, but tastes deliciously gourmet. This pasta sauce is exactly that. It takes about five minutes to make and if you pour it over hot pasta, you don’t even have to simmer it. As a bonus, Jackson likes it too, so I can give him little bites of my dinner without making a different meal for him. Mommy and baby approved!
Did I mention there is no cream in this creamy pasta? It’s almost guilt-free, minus the two tablespoons of olive oil. Another bonus for this post baby body!
Creamy Artichoke Basil Sauce
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 T. olive oil
1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, reserve liquid
1 1/2 roasted red bell peppers (jarred or make your own*)
A palm full of basil, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. Italian seasoning
8 oz pasta (I used whole wheat spiral pasta, but any kind you like would be fine)
In a small skillet, heat garlic and olive oil until garlic is just starting to brown. In a blender or food processor, blend all the ingredients including the sauteed garlic and olive oil. Add reserved liquid** from the artichokes (I think I used about a half a cup) to thin out sauce to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Toss with pasta immediately out of the boiling water. Garnish with a little chopped basil if desired.
*Making your own roasted peppers is easy. Just placing them directly on on a gas burner flame rotating it a few times (like this) or on a pan under the broiler until charred. Then put it in a bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap for a about five minutes. Rub off most of the skin with a damp paper towel. Voila, roasted peppers!
**Pasta water would work great too if you accidentally forget to reserve the liquid from the artichokes. Yes, I speak from experience.
Stir in chickpeas, sauteed veggies, chicken or Italian sausage (or the vegan versions of these)
The Condiment Queen, that’s what I call my mom. At any given moment she has no less than 100 condiments lining the door of her refrigerator. Growing up, we always had at least ten varieties of mustard, ample obscure relishes, and enough barbeque sauce to smother 50 pigs … yet (due to raising four teenagers & a revolving door of their hungry friends) we were almost always out of milk, bread, and other essentials.
She loves her condiments so much, she even travels with them. Last week I peeked into the back of my refrigerator to see a jar of orange marmalade. I didn’t buy that, I thought. My mom always has orange marmalade in her refrigerator though. She must have traveled all the way from Denver to Dallas with it the last time she visited, in fear, I’m sure, that there might be a shortage of condiments in my fridge.
In honor of my Condiment Queen mama and her beloved orange marmalade, I used the remainder of the jar to dress the salad at our Easter lunch. The sweet dressing went perfectly with the slightly bitter massaged kale greens, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. It would be great on spinach or mixed greens too if we haven’t sold you on the delicious wonders of one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet yet (at least according to the Whole Foods Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.)
Cranberry Orange Kale Salad
Serves ~ 6
1 bunch of kale, washed & dried
2 T. orange marmalade
3 T. olive oil
1 T. apple cider vinegar (or white wine or regular vinegar)
2 T. orange juice (I used one clementine)
Salt & pepper to taste
A handful of slivered almonds
A handful of dried cranberries
First, take your clean and dry kale and massage it with your hands for a few minutes until it looks like it has been lightly sauteed. It will significantly reduce in size and soften up quite a bit. Think deep tissue massage. Kale is tough and can take a nice firm touch.
(As is, kale is very fiberous and takes a long time to chew, but massaging kale breaks down the fibers and makes it nice and soft like sauteed kale with all the benefits of eating raw greens.)
Next, mix the marmalade, olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, and salt and pepper together. Taste for seasoning. Toss the kale with the dressing. Top with slivered almonds and dried cranberries.
Make this a main dish for 2-3 people by serving it on a bed of quinoa, or topping with grilled tofu, chicken (or vegan chick’n strips).
We had the most wonderful, relaxing Easter this year. Jared’s parents and brother came over to our house and we enjoyed a beautiful spread of food for vegans and omnivores alike.
Rhonda, my wonderful mother-in-law, brought ham, and homemade macaroni and cheese, delicious roasted corn, and an apple pie. Jared and I weren’t short on choices though! I made zucchini basil risotto, balsamic roasted veggies, cranberry orange kale salad, cashew queso in a bread bowl, and three pea salad. We washed it all down with peach iced tea and Bogle Chardonnay. It was quite a feast for the five of us.
I could have just eaten him up in his little Easter duds. Lucky for him, I was pretty full from lunch.
(Jared and I just got Iphones so I can now do fun things like this with my phone pictures. I’ll try not to share a nostalgic shaded picture of my baby in every post. But know, each time I don’t, it took major restraint. Jared, on the other hand promptly dropped his phone in the toilet and ruined the camera. Thanks to Apple Care, a new one is on the way.)
I’ll share most of the recipes I made on upcoming posts, but I’m starting off with the one I finished off first, the Three Pea Salad. I was trying to come up with a vegan version of the old classic Spring Pea Salad with mayonaise and cubes of cheese, but I was afraid Jared wouldn’t go for just peas in a salad, so I veered off of that path pretty far. What I ended up with was a filling, tangy, spicy side dish. It’s one of those salads that gets better the longer it sits. I ate a bowl for dinner last night and then finished it off for lunch today.
Three “Pea” Salad
1 16 oz can of Chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 16 oz can of Black Eyed Peas, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 cups of Frozen Peas, cooked & cooled (put in ice water to quickly cool off)
3 T. Sweet Onion, minced
1/4 c. Vegenaise (or mayo of choice)
1 T. Rice Vinegar (any vinegar would be fine)
2 t. Frank’s hot sauce
A few splashes of Tabasco (optional for extra heat)
1 t. Salt
1/2 t. Pepper
1 t. Garlic Powder (or one minced garlic clove)
1/4 c. Parsley, chopped
In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Check for seasoning. Serve cold.
Although this dressing uses mayo, it doesn’t call for very much and results in a nice light coating of dressing (the way I prefer). If you want a thick creamy dressing, you may want to add more mayo and seasonings.
Today, a new mom friend asked when she would ever feel like herself again after quitting her job and becoming a mother full time. At first I chuckled and thought about saying, “I think it will be about 30 years from now!” Then I recalled there was a moment after Jackson was born, when I first felt like my old self again.
He was about three months old and Jared and I were desperate for a night to ourselves. Money was tight, though, now that I wasn’t working and bills for the two day hospital visit were piling up. The amount we owed to doctors was growing faster than Jackson was! Despite our empty bank account, we called the grandparents and asked if they could watch Jackson for the evening. They happily obliged.
We couldn’t afford to go out to eat, but with the few groceries we had on hand and a little creativity I planned to turn our patio into the finest bistro in town. (The competition isn’t too steep in Small Town, Texas!) Before we dropped Jackson off, Jared and I prepped all the food, cleaned the house, hid all the baby gear away, and set up a table on the back patio. I got dolled up, putting on a dress and heels for the first time in months, thrilled to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes.
When we returned to our home “bistro,” all was ready for wining and dining. It was a perfect fall evening with just the slightest chill in the air. A bowl of delicious homemade vegetable soup and a bottle of Pinot Noir kept us plenty warm while we chatted the night away.
I remember stopping mid-sentence and saying to Jared, “We are talking, like really talking, and I’m actually able to focus on what we are saying!” The newborn haze had lifted for at least an evening and I felt like my old self again. I’d forgotten how much I loved spending the day in the kitchen, and evenings together, with the first love in my life. It was in that moment I realized though motherhood will forever change me, and in ways I’m really grateful for, I still need to make room in my life for the things that inspire and energize me. I’ll be a better mother for it.
One of my favorite creations from our romantic evening was an Asian-inspired Sesame Broccoli Slaw I served as our appetizer salad. It was crunchy, tangy, sweet, and easy to make ahead so it was waiting for us when we arrived at The Back Porch Bistro.
Sesame Broccoli Slaw
Serves 2 as a side salad or appetizer, probably up to 4 as a side dish.
2 cups Broccoli, thinly sliced into ribbons
2 cups Carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons
4 tbs Rice Vinegar
2 tbs Olive Oil
2 tbs Organic Sugar
2 tbs Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Salt
Slice the broccoli and carrots into ribbons as thin as you can. (A vegetable peeler works great to “cut” the carrots really thin. Just start about half way up the carrot and peel, peel, peel lovely little ribbons. Then start over with the upper half of the carrot.) In a bowl, add all of the ingredients and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle and the carrots and broccoli soften up. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sesame Broccoli Slaw
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/20/sesame-broccoli-slaw/
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