Sunday, December 11, 2011

Obligatory Santa picture

Here it is, the picture that we all get the kids dressed up for and spend hours in line waiting for. Well, this year we were lucky, no line and I didn't make the kids don matching outfits. And this is what we got...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween- Hatzis style 2011

Man, did I ever struggle with thinking of Halloween outfits this year for the kids. Throwing a third kid into the mix made things a bit more difficult, since it's so much easier to think of famous pairs to dress the kids up as. Remember these two adorable things from a few years ago?
I think it's gonna be hard to ever top those costumes. So I thought long and hard about what I could dress all three kids up (and still have Conner and Elizabeth somewhat excited to wear the costumes). My first idea was going to be Hansel, Gretel, and the Gingerbread Man. 
See, how cute Nolan would have been as a gingerbread man! Turns out though, the only Gretel costumes that are sold are the sexy Gretel that we all know and love from this classic children's story. Strike one. I then gave up on trying to dress up the kids as one theme and decided to let Elizabeth go as Madeline, because she really was destined to be a French little girl (minus the orphanage).

As for Conner and Nolan, dressing them up as Batman and Robin was the final call. And even though Conner didn't know who Batman was, he was more than excited to see the big muscles on his costume. And we did show him a movie about Batman and when he told his class at school why he chose to dress as Batman he said, "Batman saves the good people from the bad people". Aww, sweet boy looking out for those who are good. 
And just look at those two staring into each other's eyes! How can you deny that they're just the perfect crime fighting duo. 

And Chris and I even dressed up for Halloween this year. We actually went to a costume party much earlier in October. Since the kids had just finished learning all about Ancient Egypt in school, we thought it would be fun to dress as King Tut and Cleopatra. The kids loved it!

Happy Halloween to all of you! And it's never too early to start planning for next year so if you can think of any cute trio costumes, send those ideas my way! Or if you ever see a non-sexy Gretel, I haven't given up on that idea yet!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 months

Seriously, how can you not just want to kiss those cheeks? Okay, you can now take your lips off the computer monitor. 7 month old Nolan is a joy! Sleeping through the night, eating us out of house and home, and saying da da da.... He also is starting to push up on his arms and legs pretty well so he might get up the courage to explore the house on all fours soon. I don't think Chris and I are ready for the zone defense that we are going to have to play with three mobile kids!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 5- What I Made and Ate This Week

My apologies for this post coming almost half a week late but I have several great excuses. 1) I had company in town this week, 2) I'm sick, and feeling pathetic (and whining a lot), and 3) I had this post completely typed out and then my dog... (you know the rest). So two of these excuses are true and while the third is false, I'm hoping the first two are compelling enough for you to forgive me. I could have just skipped this week but I really cooked and ate some delicious things that were too good to not share.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: Leftovers, seriously I think we ate chili for what seemed like forever. But in the food world 5 days is pretty much forever (and touching on the verge of food so spoiled you just need to throw it out).

Thursday: Stuffed buttercup squash (V)
It's about time I cooked something this week. I had a buttercup squash sitting on my counter which made me think about the year we made stuffed squash for Thanksgiving. And I was still thinking about cranberries after the Indian shepherd's pie from last week. I didn't follow a recipe for this and surprisingly it still turned out really good!

Stuffed squash:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water (or veggie stock)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 buttercup squash (or you could use two acorn squash)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. First, in a medium saucepan place the quinoa over medium heat. Toast the quinoa for 3-5 minutes until it is light brown. Add the water or stock to the quinoa and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat down and simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes (exactly, so turn on your kitchen timer). While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your squash. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. If you When 20 minutes is up take the pan off of the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before uncovering. After 5 minutes you can fluff the quinoa with a fork if you like. Into the quinoa add the cheese, toasted pecans, cranberries, and salt and pepper. Just heat until the cheese starts to melt. Now take the quinoa mixture and divide evenly among the squash, smooshing it into the spots where the seeds once were. Place each squash in a shallow pan with a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook until the squash is tender, mine took about 40 minutes.

Saturday: Butternut squash soup and Spinach, tomato, and gruyere crepes
Saturday morning I had some very special visitors come over for brunch. And given that it was rainy and cold outside, I thought some warm fall soup would be just the thing to serve. A perfect pairing on the side seemed to be a savory crepe and of course a mimosa to wash everything down. The soup recipe called for a roasted red pepper puree and after tasting my soup both with and without the puree, I was more a fan of the soup without the puree. And the recipe I linked to for the crepes is just a basic crepe recipe so you can put whatever you like into these crepes. Because you know that a crepe filled with Nutella would be incredible! Especially when eaten on the streets of Paris!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 4- What I Made and Ate this Week

Sunday: Southern Indian Cabbage with Yogurt (V, VG if you don't add the yogurt but the yogurt really added to the dish) and Indian Shepherd's Pie (VG)
After the kids brought home a plethora of vegetables from the farm I had to figure out what to make with all of them. I had a head of cabbage, green beans, beets, a few sweet potatoes, onions, and some potatoes. I used up almost all of the vegetables in these two dishes. For the Southern Indian Cabbage I made it pretty much just as the directions said, except adding in some cooked green beans. As for the Indian Shepherd's Pie, the inspiration for this dish came from the cookbook Peas and Thank You. The author explains that this recipe came about when she had leftovers from her meatless Thanksgiving and she threw all the leftovers together into a dish. Here is the general recipe for what I made:

2 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp margarine
2 Tbsp soymilk
2 tsp cinnamon
3 beets
1 can chickpeas
Green beans
2 carrots
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup cooked lentils
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp garam masala

First, peel sweet potatoes and cook until soft (using whatever method you like). Mash up the sweet potatoes with some cinnamon, a bit of margarine, and some soymilk. Cook your beets and green beans, again using whatever method you choose. Also cook your lentils. In a large pan, saute onions and garlic. Add carrots, chickpeas, beets, green beans, cooked lentils, broth, and spices. Cook for 4-5 minutes. At the last minute add dried cranberries. In a 2 quart dish, put vegetable and lentil mixture from pan into dish. Top with mashed sweet potatoes. Cook in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

This dish was good and made a ton of food, but it was very labor intensive to make. Lots of veggies to cook and lots of pans to wash. I can see how it would be much easier to make if you already had all the vegetables cooked and leftover from Thanksgiving. And I wish that I skipped the Indian spin on this and just made it more like a Thanksgiving dish. The best parts really were the cranberries and sweet potatoes, just like those are the best parts of Thanksgiving (besides the stuffing!).

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Smoked paprika almonds (VG)
So you may have noticed that I get recipes from this blog a lot. And funny thing, the girl who writes the blog lives in Fort Collins, which is how I found the blog. And this week I actually met her as she was handing out samples of granola at Whole Foods. It's always a weird thing meeting someone in person and not wanting to come off too "stalkerish" telling them that you read their blog and try a lot of their recipes. Maybe someday I'll run into a stranger who reads my blog, and don't worry, I won't think you are a stalker- unless of course you show up at my front door. These almonds came out just okay, not as good as my tasty nuts. The smoked paprika lost its flavor when the almonds were roasted and the smokiness just didn't come across in the finished product.

Wednesday: "Chicken" fried rice (V)
You could call what I made "chicken" fried rice or maybe it would be better described as "chicken" fried risotto. Either way, it was delicious and easy.

"Chicken" fried rice (risotto)
2 cups rice, ideally cooked the day before so it can dry out a bit
1 package chicken style seitan
Frozen peas
Green onions
2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. Sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
2 Eggs (optional)

In your wok or big ol' pan, heat up some peanut oil. Saute your garlic until fragrant. Add the seitan and let brown. Next add carrots and broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes. Now, here's where I messed up and ended up with something more risotto like*. Add your eggs and stir every once in a while so they end up scrambled. Add the rice and green onions, cook for about 5 more minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and sesame oil. Pour over rice in the wok. And there you are, done.
*I accidentally forgot to add the eggs before the rice and knowing that it probably wouldn't work I added the eggs once the rice was in the pan. The eggs ended up cooking into the rice making it sort of a sticky rice type dish. But it still tasted good.

Thursday: Leftovers and whatever the kids didn't eat off their plates

Friday: Baba ganoush (VG)
I love baba ganoush and I've tried buying it already made in the store and it always is terrible. I think you've got to make this at home or get it freshly made at a restaurant. There was a Mediterranean1 restaurant back in Winston-Salem that made great baba ganoush (and really good falafels) and boy do I miss that place. I've yet to find good falafel or baba ganoush out here so I decided to put the eggplant sitting in my fridge to good use. I always like to add some Liquid Smoke to mine to up the smoky flavor.

Saturday: Chili and cornbread (V)
The Huskers had a big game on Saturday night and whenever I think about watching a nighttime football game, I immediately think about making a big pot of chili to accompany the football watching. Chili is one of those things that you can mess around with and it almost always comes out great. I did once make the most wonderful chili and since I wasn't following a recipe I have no clue what made it so great. But I think it might have been the sweet potatoes. Here is the general recipe for the chili I made this week:

Badger meat chili (no Badger meat in here, just referring to what I hope the Huskers do to Wisconsin, and I can't wait to see who comes to this blog after googling badger meat chili):
1 package tempeh
3 cups veggie broth
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large sweet potato
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
Corn (from my endless supply in the freezer)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can fire roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers (Muir Glen makes these)
Cumin (I used a lot, probably 2 Tbsp)
Chili powder (2 Tbsp at least)
Onion powder (1 tsp?)
Celery salt (1 tsp)
Salt and pepper

First I like to steam the tempeh by putting it in a shallow saute pan with a little bit of water. Steam for 10 minutes, then it will crumble easily once it cools off. Saute your onion and a few cloves of garlic. Peel and cube the sweet potato. Throw everything into one big pot and cook for about 30 minutes. Open a beer, ladle up a bowl, plop down on the couch, and watch some football!

Go Huskers!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 3- What I Made and Ate This Week

I'm starting to like doing this post each week. It seems to give me the extra kick in the butt to actually do some cooking. Nothing too fancy this week but I did take some pretty pictures of the food to make up for my very basic meals.

Monday: Vegetable Soup (VG, V if you dump cheese in it)
Vegetable soup is a no-brainer. As in, you don't need a recipe to make it. It is pretty much impossible to mess up, unless you totally overcook the veggies and everything turns to mush (hint: don't do this). I made mine in a crock pot since I was feeling pretty lazy. One gripe about vegetable soup though, I was trying to think of something I could add which would take vegetable soup from ordinary to extraordinary. I couldn't think of anything so suggestions are welcome. But I did accidentally dump too much grated parmesan into my bowl of soup and since the cheese was already soaking in the broth I couldn't scoop out the extra cheese. And let me tell you, too much cheese in vegetable soup did not suck, not one bit.

Wednesday: Pumpkin coconut bread (VG)
Nothing like cool fall mornings to get me craving something pumpkin. And this pumpkin bread is awesome! Doesn't taste vegan at all and best part of all, the recipe makes two loaves! I usually immediately freeze one of the loaves and it freezes beautifully.

Thursday: Roasted pepper, mushroom, and caramelized onion pizza (V)
There are two things I strongly believe in:
1. There is no wrong mix of vegetables that you can put on a pizza
2. Caramelized onions should be included in every recipe.
Since finding pre-made pizza dough at Whole Foods we've been making a lot of pizza at home. Plus we haven't found a pizza place in Fort Collins that we are totally crazy about yet. The general formula for our pizza nights involves one pizza that is half cheese/ half meat for the kids and Chris and one veggie pizza that always contains caramelized onions (every.single.time). This time the meat/cheese pizza was ham and pineapple and the veggie pizza had roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms, and caramelized onions on it. And because I also think that adding a little green to your pizza makes it pretty (and reminds me of a great pizza I ate in Paris), I threw some arugula on top of the veggie pizza after it came out of the oven.
How pretty is that?
Half cheese/half ham and pineapple
And just in case you don't want to put caramelized onions on your pizza here are a few other recipes that use caramelized onions are are also very delicious:
Caramelized fig spread (VG)
Mujadara (V)

Friday: Beer soaked fries (VG)
It's Friday so really no excuse needed to infuse beer into our food but Friday was a very LONG day for me. The kids had a field trip to a local farm and I was happy to come along as a chaperone. We spent the morning picking cabbage, corn, onions, potatoes, green beans, and pumpkins. I was seriously wiped out after the trip! And Conner and Elizabeth worked hard to dig up some potatoes which I decided needed to be turned into fries.
Digging up taters
I used Tommyknocker Pumpkin Harvest Ale to soak the fries (I chose this beer because neither Chris nor I are too crazy about drinking it so I wanted to use it up on something). And you can't beat having some potatoes picked by your sweet little pumpkins for dinner!
Sweet pumpkins
Verdict: Skip soaking the potatoes in beer and just drink it instead. I really couldn't taste the beer in the fries (so I think they are safe for kid consumption) and they took a long time to bake (1 hr +)!

Enjoy your weekend! And if you decide to infuse some of your food with beer, please share how it goes (unless you're doing the beer can chicken). We are going to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park for one last time before the road to the highest mountain closes up for winter. Though winter seems far away given how warm it is today and is supposed to be this weekend!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week 2- What I Made and Ate This Week

Look at that, I've made it to the second week of my new series. Are y'all as surprised as I am? Unfortunately (or fortunately as I see it), I cooked very little this week. Leftovers were abundant in the fridge and one night I decided to skip dinner, cause ya know I've got a Hawaiian vacation coming up! But here is a rundown on what I made and ate this week:

Saturday: Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie balls (VG)
Saturday afternoon Elizabeth once again decided that napping is so 2010, so we decided to make some cookies together while the others napped and Daddy watched football. We made these peanut butter chocolate chip cookie balls and OMG, these are so incredibly good!!!

Sunday: Tempeh spagetti
On Sunday night we went over to our neighbor's house for dinner. And the dinner being served was spaghetti with spicy sausage (Chris was so excited for this!). My neighbor was so sweet and called me to ask what she could make for me to eat (yippee!). I gave her a tip that tempeh crumbled into marinara sauce would be really easy and give me the extra protein that Boris insists I eat. Easy peasey and pretty darn good. Simply take your tempeh, steam it for about 10 minutes, and then crumble it into marinara sauce. My favorite brand of tempeh is Westsoy as this brand crumbles really easily into small pieces. Since I was the only one eating the tempeh spaghetti I got leftovers sent home with me (double yippee!). And my neighbor last week made the most delicious mac-n-cheese ever (at my suggestion) but her kids didn't agree with my review of the mac-n-cheese. So a big ol' dish of mac-n-cheese got sent home with us too (triple yippee!).

Monday, Tuesday: Leftover tempeh spaghetti. And I still have enough left over for one more meal.

Wednesday: The Kate Moss special

Thursday: Faux sausage and peppers
I figured it was about time for me to cook a meal for the family. Even though we had been eating a lot of marinara and noodles, I decided to make faux sausage and peppers. You really don't need a recipe for this one as its a no-brainer. Take some bell peppers, an onion, and faux Italian sausages (I used the Tofurky brand) and sautee them. At the same time boil a box of pasta. When the pepper and sausage mix is done throw a bottle of marinara sauce in with it (I did make marinara from scratch for this). Put sausage mix together with pasta in a big pan. Throw some mozzarella cheese on top and put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Bam! You'll have leftovers for days too!

So as you can see, a light week of cooking meals for the family. But I did make some other things this week, some of which I ate and some of which I didn't.

  • maple cinnamon and cookie dough almond butter
  • black beans, homemade yogurt, and rice (for Nolan). I know this sounds gross but it was pretty delicious. 
  • chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, and quinoa (again for Nolan). And yep, Nolan loved it and how many babies do you know that eat quinoa?  

Monday, September 12, 2011

6 months

Half a year already?! Why does the first year go by so fast with babies? Just like puppies, can't we keep them little for a while longer. But on the bright side, I've loved having these sweet baby cheeks to kiss multiple times a day, every day, for the past 6 months.
6 month stats:
Weight: 17.95 lbs (50%)
Height: 27 1/4 inches (75%)

For reference here are what Conner and Elizabeth's stats were at 6 months:
Weight: 16 lbs 10 oz (25-50%)
Height: 26 1/2 inches (50%)

Weight: 16 lbs 8 oz (50-75%)
Height: 26 1/2 inches (75%)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 1: What I Made and Ate This Week

I'm thinking of starting a little series on the blog called "What I Made and Ate This Week". In reality this series probably can be filed under "more things that nobody really cares to read about" but I'm gonna go ahead and yammer on. Plus I'll probably only keep the series up for a few weeks and then I'll lose steam and interest but maybe, just maybe I can build a little book of recipes and reviews to look back on when I'm at a loss for what to make. Oh, and I'll try and note whether a recipe is vegetarian (V) or vegan (VG). So here we go, Week 1:

Week 1: What I Made and Ate This Week:

Monday: Tempeh snobby joes topped with coleslaw (V, VG if you use Veganaise in the coleslaw)
Since going vegetarian I've really missed sloppy joes. But who wants to open up a can of that stuff which rhymes with nanwich and pour it over a meat substitute. Crumbled tempeh works great in this recipe and the sauce is easy to make. I cheated and bought a small container of shredded cabbage at Whole Foods because I didn't really want a big ol' thing of coleslaw lingering in the fridge after the tempeh snobby joes were gone. As other reviewers mentioned, the sauce made according to the directions is a little bland so I ended up adding some barbeque sauce and liquid smoke to give it some flavor.  Overall these were as good as I remembered from growing up.

Wednesday: Corn and roasted green chile soup (V)
In the past I've had a discussion with a friend about whether New Jersey or Nebraska sweet corn would win in a head-to-head duel. And while we never got around to matching up the fruits of these states, I will always stand by Nebraska sweet corn. And lucky for me, I've got a freezer FULL of Nebraska sweet corn. Seriously, I've got like 30 bags of the stuff. So there will probably be a lot of recipes with corn in them for the next few months. This recipe had a lot of steps that I had shortcuts in place for, such as I bought some fresh roasted green chiles at the farmer's market so I didn't have to roast my own at home. And I used ground spices rather than roasting and grinding the seeds. And, I added sweet potatoes because they are delicious and add a little more veggie nutrition to the soup. Of course I omitted any and all cilantro too, even though the recipe was trying to be tricky and fool me by calling it coriander sprigs. This soup turned out great but really, can you ever mess a soup up? Especially when heavy cream is involved.

Thursday: Chocolate cherry cashew energy bars (VG)
My trainer, who is Russian and I will call Boris, keeps telling me that I don't eat enough protein. I told him that I really like protein bars and his response was that protein bars are expensive, why not just eat raw eggs. I bit my tongue from telling him that meat is probably more expensive than any of those protein bars that I like. And while my protein intake is just fine, I think Boris is trying to get me to eat enough protein to turn me into a Russian fighting machine. As long as I'm a Russian fighting machine who can wear a bikini in Hawaii in November then I'll get on board any training (i.e., torture) program that Boris has for me.

The link for these bars is for a post on a formula for making energy bars at home. So instead of listing exact ingredients it will just tell you the general ratio you need of each type of ingredients (and don't worry it gives you examples of what ingredients to use). I used the suggestions for a chocolate black bean happy bar and made a few substitutions such as protein powder instead of brown rice flour (just for you Boris) and cherries and cashews instead of coconut and raisins. These bars turned out good and I think these are even deceptive enough for kids to enjoy without knowing that there are beans in them.

So that's it for Week 1 of What I Made and Ate This Week. Yep, I realize that it's only Thursday but we have corn soup for days and once the weekend hits I'm lazy and we usually just go out to eat. But if I make anything else then I'll probably cheat and just add it to next week's list.

Have a great weekend. The weather is AMAZING here and is supposed to be this way all weekend. I think we will be spending lots and lots of time outside! Come on over if you're in the neighborhood :).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5 years ago....

A boy married a girl in beautiful gardens, under a very hot sun! Dancing, drinking, and laughs were shared among family and friends to celebrate this new marriage.

Little did this boy and girl know that after only 5 years of marriage they would be so blessed to have three children join them in celebrating this anniversary.

Life together has been very good for this boy and girl. Good health, good jobs, a great place to live, and a chance every once in a while to spend some time just the two of them, pedaling together into the sunset. 

The summer of 2011

I can not believe that summer is officially over. And the weather here seems to know that summer is over as cool days and chilly nights are starting to loom. Looking back on the summer, a whole lot happened! While I won't bore you with all the details, I thought I'd put together a list of some of the highlights. So here you have the top 10 adventures of the summer, in chronological order.
10. We said good-bye to all of our wonderful friends at Montessori school.

9. We packed our entire house and 10 years of memories into a van destined for our new home in Colorado.

8. We spent a week in Nebraska riding tractors, elephants, visiting old friends with their new little ones, and roasting marshmallows!

7. New adventures in our new backyard and new parks.

6. A trip to the Denver Museum of Science and close up encounters with the extinct kind.

5. A weekend in the mountains, full of beautiful scenery and wildlife sightings.

4. We said hello to new friends at preschool.

3. We started watching Dance Moms so that I can be fully prepared for Elizabeth's newest activity.

2. Another trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, and the discovery that Conner gets motion sick very easily :(.

1. This guy grew so much! And started sitting up!