Thursday, October 31, 2013

Artworks: Dia de los Muertos Monoprints

Mom is obsessed with Dia de los Muertos, which falls on November 1st and 2nd, and we were quite happy to jump on board this year given the stronghold we have on Halloween decorations and our interest in all things involving skulls. There are tons of really cool Dia de los Muertos crafts out there, but mom had been wanting to try making monoprints for a while and was trying to think of a way to do both things. Then she remembered No Monsters in My Bed's q-tip printing post from a while back and figured we'd give that a go by making sugar skull prints. We all LOVED it. Mom printed out these coloring sheets for us to reference and sat down with us and made some herself as well. We tried colored paint on white paper and mom also tried black paint on colored paper. Both came out awesome. I'm guessing these will be made into a flag garland soon .... There also may be gems involved.

Here's the DIAlio. You'll need:
- paint
- an old pan or baking sheet
- q-tips
- paper (we used both heavy watercolor and lighter weight paper and each turned out well. the light weight paper will probably look cool strung up into a paper garland because it will move with the air better)
- a brayer or sponge paint brush

Once you've got your supplies:
1. Spread a thin layer of paint onto the back of a pan or baking sheet using the brayer or sponge paint brush. Try to spread the paint until it's translucent -- a thicker paint layer does not print as well.

2. Use the q-tip to draw a sugar skull (or have a parent draw the outline and the kiddos add detail).

3. Press a piece of paper carefully on the design and smooth with your hand.

4. Lift to see your print!

We varied our prints by changing up the type and color of paper and mixing in glitter paint to some of them. Fabulous.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grub It Up: Spicy Twice-Baked Turkey Sweet Potatoes

Mom's favorite paleo recipe this week turned out to be not very kid-friendly. It was realllly spicy. So much so that she had to add a few things to cut the heat. She originally had plans to make a small not-so-spicy batch for the kiddos, but as she was making it, she realized that while there was a good chance we'd balk at eating anything (she was trying to feed us before heading out to Boo at the Zoo and we were pretty much only interested in getting our hands on some candy), she'd likely appreciate extra leftovers. So she made this just for the 'rents and we had pumpkin ravioli in honor of Halloween. Word is that this was delicious and maybe she'll think twice next time and make a kiddo-friendly version for us.

Before we dish up the spicy twice-baked turkey sweet potatoes recipe, here's what else was cooking at our house last week:

Tuesday -- Paleo Shrimp Tacos -- super easy, super yum. the kids were not amped about these, so we had fish sticks instead and some of the guac.

Wednesday -- Brinner Scramble -- aka "clean the refrigerator out and add eggs." lots of veggies and some bacon added for good measure. we mostly picked the veg out.

Thursday -- Trader Joe's Burgandy Pepper Lamb Tips (not Whole30 compliant -- some sugar in marinade) and Coconut Baked Carrots with Figs. everyone loved the carrots and mom and Cam loved the lamb.

Friday -- Paleo Bruschetta Chicken over Zoodles -- mom made this one for dad and, fortunately, he was a big fan. Kane and mom were not so much - something about the coating didn't taste right. also, having dragged Kane and I to Whole Foods for a second grocery store stop of the day to find arrowroot and finding none, mom subbed a gluten-free rice starch thickener (not really Paleo compliant, but GF). that might have been the problem.

Saturday -- Dinner out for the adults, mac & cheese and leftover Paleo Bruschetta Chicken.

Sunday -- Spicy Twice-Baked Turkey Sweet Potatoes.

Monday -- Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash -- this one rivaled the sweet potato for a feature post. it was DELISH. mom subbed uncooked cauliflower rice for the quinoa and used boneless, skinless chicken breast because dad cannot stand chicken thighs. super yum (although this one was more time intensive). the kids had the chicken out of the stew with brown rice and edamame. and because she is mom's culinary twin, Cam had kalamata olives, too.

Spicy Twice-Baked Turkey Sweet Potatoes 
(adapted by addition to Paleo OMG's recipe)

- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp ground red pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste

{topping suggestions: avocado, goat cheese, sliced tomatoes}

- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

- Cut sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise and put them face down on a cookie sheet. Put in the oven to cook for about 25-30 minutes depending on how thick they are. You will know when they are done if they are easy to push on, on the skin side. If you pull them out early and the inside doesn't come out easily with a spoon, you'll need to cook them a bit longer. 

- While your sweet potatoes cook, put out a pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and then add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and then add ground turkey, using a large spoon to break it up. 

- When the turkey is half-way done cooking, add the spices. {Here is where mom was going to separate out a small batch of turkey for us and cook it sans spices} Let the turkey cook until no longer pink or until completely cooked through. Remove from heat. 

- Remove sweet potatoes from oven and use a large spoon to scoop out the insides, taking care not to scrape down totally to skin. 

- Put scooped sweet potatoes into pan of turkey and mix thoroughly to combine. Spoon the new mixture back into your sweet potato skins and place back into oven (face up) for about 3-5 minutes more. 

- Add cool toppings to cut the heat to your liking. Mom added avocado slices, goat cheese (she eats some dairy), and sliced tomatoes. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Holidaze: Easy Halloween Bunting

No sooner than we got our store-bought Halloween decorations up, we started back in on mom for more. She's not sure what's going on this year, but we are INTO this holiday (check out our instagrams from this weekend -- an entire family full of vampires, two days in a row. and we haven't even hit actual Halloween yet). Mom's been hard at work on another project (more to come on that soon), so she wanted to set us up with an easy Halloween project we could do ourselves that would serve as a great decoration. This bunting is super simple, but turned out to be really fun and cute to make. Although if you're talking to Kane, you better pretend to be really, really scared of his spooky drawings.

Mom made two stacks of colored paper -- one orange, one white. She traced the outline of the top of a pitcher on one, to form a pumpkin shape. And she "freehand drew," a phrase I use very loosely, two ghost shapes on the other. Then she cut out a big stack of blank pumpkins and ghosts for Kane and I to decorate. We used black oil pastels and markers to draw on them. I favored abstract designs, while Kane went for the spook factor and drew vampire and mummy pumpkins. She strung them all up on black and white baker's twine and, boom, a quick Halloween bunting was made.

To no one's surprise, this little activity only served to further spur on our Halloween decorating obsession. And we also made bats, witches, and tissue paper ghosts. We've still got three days left until the big one is here ... anyone else make great Halloween decorations this year?!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grub It Up: Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Zoodles

After listening to everyone rave about zoodles (zucchini noodles) for quite some time, mom finally decided to get on board and check them out. She had a heck of a time finding a julienne peeler (yes, you can get one online super easily, but she wanted to make them immediately, so that wasn't going to do). She finally tracked one down at Williams & Sonoma, but wouldn't you know that the saleswoman gave her the WRONG peeler. The one that does exactly what every other peeler we have at the house already does. You know. Just peel. All the zoodles mom saw online looked like spaghetti noodles, but she kept getting flat, wide ribbons. Once she finally realized she'd been duped and wasn't physically incapable of replicating all the youtube videos she forced herself to watch on repeat, she declared that we were having linguine zoodles instead of spaghetti noodles and moved on.

Good thing. Because this mediterranean chicken pasta was DELISH. Nice and bright and lemony. Plus, we're all obsessed with kalamata olives. And mom reports the zoodles were super tasty and did the trick of satisfying a pasta craving. You know we weren't down with green noodles, no matter what shape they were -- we had them over regular spaghetti noodles. Daddy tried them, but also on top of regular pasta. We'll give him a pass, he was carb loading for his Tough Mudder this past weekend.

And before we get down to zoodle business, here's our menu and links from the rest of last week:

Tuesday -- Veggie Fried Rice -- no real recipe here. mom just stirfried whatever veggies we had, added some fish sauce and coconut aminos to taste and threw in cauliflower rice. And she gave us some turkey with ours, too. Not award winning, but used up a lot of veg we had.

Wednesday -- Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Zoodles.

Thursday -- Bacon Apple Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries (these a real fam favorite) -- YUM. Mom couldn't find cranberries, so she skipped the topping and put 2 tablespoons of maple syrup into the burger mix itself. Awesome move, mom.

Friday -- Roast Beef Stuffed Peppers and Spaghetti Squash with Bacon and Garlic -- the stuffed peppers were delicious (mom used Trader Joe's sweet and spicy mustard, which isn't really Paleo), the squash was not. Mom is going to blame most of the squash issues on underdoneness, but there wasn't a whole lot of flavor going on there. Everyone raves about spaghetti squash, so she's on the lookout for a new recipe to try.

Saturday -- Carb loading dinner out! Daddy's race was on Sunday, so we went out to dinner Saturday night. We assisted in carb loading while mom stuck with steak and veggies.

Sunday -- Leftovers! Burgers, Stuffed Peppers, Cauliflower Rice and some steamed veggies.

Monday -- Honey Orange Chicken over Cauliflower Rice -- heck yea faux Chinese food. This was super good and a quick fix for mom. Win, win.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Zoodles 

Mediterranean Chicken
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons almond meal
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divded use
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 package (9 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil

To make the sauce, stir the chicken stock, lemon juice, zest and flour together in a bowl. Set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook without moving it until it is browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook on the other side until browned. Remove chicken and set aside in a bowl. 

Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining teaspoon oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the sauce mixture and pour it into the pan. Stir to pick up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Slice sundried tomatoes and add them to the pan along with the artichokes, capers and chicken. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the ingredients to heat up. 

Add zoodles (see below) and basil. Toss to combine all ingredients well and serve immediately.

Linguine Style Zoodles
- 3 zucchini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper

Using a peeler (YES, a regular peeler), peel long strands of zucchini into flat noodles. Place zoodles into a strainer and sprinkle with salt to help drain some of the liquid out. Heat olive oil in pan and warm up zoodles for a few minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Your Dough is My Dough: Halloween Playdough

Much like stores have already started stocking Christmas decorations, we've been all over mom to get Halloween decorations for months now. She promised that as soon as our house wasn't all done up like a knight's castle, we could get started. But we kept after her. So she came up with some Halloween playdough -- we'd get some spooky playtime without having to hang it all over the house. We did convince her to purchase a few Halloweeny items ahead of time, though, so we were able to use those while we played. Cam made scary cookies and I made Frankenstein gingerbread men, complete with fuzzy hair (pipecleaners) and neck electrodes (beads). We filled little cauldrons with yucky, sticky frogs and snakes. And we loved the pumpkin pie smell of the dough, too.

Here's how to make our Halloween dough:

- 4 cups flour
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- orange and black food coloring
- gold glitter (you don't have to use glitter, but mom embraces Halloween as another excuse to use the sparkly stuff)

Combine ingredients through pumpkin pie spice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until most of the moisture is absorbed (it will take a bit). Let it cool on some wax paper. Divide the batch into halves -- color one half orange and the other black. Work in a healthy dose of glitter -- don't worry, the dough will hold it and keep it from sparkling your entire house. Play!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Q&A a Day For Kids

We owe a huge thank you to No Monsters in My Bed for posting on the book "Q&A a Day For Kids: A Three-Year Journal." When mom spotted their post on it, she went out and bought the book immediately. Literally. And we started right in that night.

The book provides one question a day, 365 days a year, for 3 years (the questions repeat annually), and prompts a total of 1,095 conversations with your kiddos. Sometimes mommy gets short, to-the-point answers. And sometimes we want to talk about an answer at length. It's entertaining. And surprising. A great way to capture our personalities day to day. And we LOVE it. We remind mommy almost every day and look forward to each other's answers (we take turns daily as to who answers first and we generally hear each other's answers, which frequently colors our own).

And since mom is completely defunct in the baby book department and has not yet done the family interviews from our summer bucket list, we thought it would be fun to share a few highlights each month of mom's top 5 favorite answers. Some are sweet and some are just downright hysterical (to mom, at least). So, here you go!

September 23
Q: The best thing about being a grown-up is _______.
Cameron: to eat food, to eat veggies. I like to eat oranges. Um ... polka dot.
Kane: I think grown-ups are boring because they don't play. They just work, work. Well, we could cook.

September 26
Q: What did you have for breakfast today?
Kane: pancakes. I mean french toast -- I wanted to fool you, but I couldn't!
Cameron: cereal {laughing as she's eating french toast}. Kane: You fooled her Cam, thanks!

October 1
Q: Whom are you worried about? Why?
Kane: myself. Because I couldn't bring things to school. My teachers are going to fire me {worried about homework}.
Cameron: someone else -- it starts with the letter B. Actually, piggy -- he needs a blanket. I'm worried about that picture.

October 13
Q: If I had a magic eraser, I would erase ______.
Cameron: I would sneak into my brother's room and take something.
Kane: a drawing of a princess castle -- I'd sneak into my sister's room and erase a pretty princess castle that she drew.

October 14
Q: Are you more like a monkey, a tiger, a fox, or a rabbit?
Kane: a fox. I'm fierce, I like to play, I like new things ... to eat. And that's why I'm like a fox.
Cameron: um ... a giraffe. Because I like rescue robots. I get to rescue people. And they get to glow in the dark. I like horsies.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (October 2013)

This month's Day in the Life fell not only on a weekend, but on the day of Kane's 5th birthday party. At first mom couldn't decide whether or not this would make for a day full of lame pictures -- both because she would likely be too harried to spend much time looking for good shots and because we'd be spending most of the day indoors. And while both of those reasons were true, she actually kind of liked the photos with which she ended up. They showcase a different part of our life, where our family from both sides travels from all across the country comes together in celebration. It really only happens twice a year and we think it is pretty special.

Happy October, all!

7.25 a.m. -- Saturday morning cartoons oblivious to the house ready to party.

8.15 a.m. -- mom left the house only one time during the 12-hour period and that was to pick up ice and emergency back up cake. we were a little worried our friends would want seconds and thirds of my awesome castle cake and that we'd run out. they did, but it was the cake that kept on giving! what would a Green birthday party be without a cake situation, though? 

9.45 a.m. -- the birthday boy in his "House of Green" shirt ready to get at that fabulous castle cake already.

10.30 a.m. -- reading his brand new knights story book with Grandpa D-Rock and counting down the minutes. 

11.15 a.m. -- the party has commenced. huzzah! 

12.55 p.m. -- party is over! cam winds down by working on create-a-face sticker pad with Auntie V. that's a rendering of mom right there. 

1.45 p.m. -- Aunt Erin and Uncle Tim get serious with the Playmobil Castle they brought for Kane. In a surprising show of cooperation for any married couple, they put that thing together like total champs (and then mom shattered the whole thing when she tried to move it the next day. no problem, it's been fixed).

2.50 p.m. -- Grammie B teaches Cam a silly song about a dolly. lots of giggling involved.

3.30 p.m. -- objectively, Cam has the best hair eva. 

4.00 p.m. -- Kane wastes no time digging in to his new blocks to build castles. and dungeons. and islands. and fortresses. 

5.25 p.m. -- Kane sets up his new mythical creatures with his tree-slab blocks from Aunt Carrie. an entirely too long discussion about the proper pronunciation of Cerebus occurs among mommy and the Green siblings. 

6.10 p.m. -- so many iPhones to play with. 

7.00 p.m. -- bedtime stories with Grandpa D-Rock. Cam hearts Olivia. 

Don't forget to check out what No Monsters in My Bed did on Saturday, too! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grub It Up: Roasted Pork Loin with Grapes

We promise that we will eventually post something other than paleo recipes and meal plans -- it's just that we celebrated Kane's 5th Birthday this past weekend with a big knights and dragons bash (post on that soon) and we've been incredibly busy little party planners. Besides party prep last week, we basically just went to school and ate dinner. And mom has a hard enough time getting out of us what we did at school, so recipes it is.

But you won't be disappointed with this one. Daddy doesn't really love pork and he started grumbling about this dinner as soon as he walked in the door. He wasn't grumbling when he was fighting Kane for thirds. Mom made a 2 1/2 lb pork roast and there were hardly any leftovers. It is the combination of the sear and the roast that makes such a juicy piece of meat and the grapes are a nice seasonal touch (although mom was surprised to find that Kane and I weren't that into the roasted grapes). And mom loved that this was a super easy, quick dinner to make.

And last week's looking-back meal plan seemed to go over well, so here it is for this week. Because mom cooked almost every night the week before and we had my birthday party over the weekend, there were more than the normal amount of leftovers going around. And, as part of our birthday celebrations, mom, dad and their visiting siblings always go out to dinner after we've gone to bed. So there was one night of dining out.

Tuesday -- leftovers {see last week's post for recipes that were still good a few days later for leftovers}

Wednesday -- Crunchy Paleo Chicken Fingers and Sweet Potato Fries {mom didn't do the pumpkin pie spice} -- EVERYONE loved these chicken fingers. Super sweet with a nice peppery balance.

Thursday -- Roasted Pork Loin with Grapes and Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts {so addictive}.

Friday -- Primal Italian Baked Eggs and a side salad -- this was mom's first time trying raw cheese. it was good, but she's not sure it was worth the $. the kids ate out Friday night with daddy and the Green Family because the dining room table was already all set up for Saturday's party. mom and Grammie B had these eggies while they party prepped -- very easy to just pop in the oven while you work on other things.

Saturday -- the kiddos had a generic brinner while mom and dad and their siblings dined out at their semi-annual "we kept our kids alive another year and our parents are in town to babysit" meal at B Too. mom did mostly a good job of staying paleo and had brussels sprouts {with crispy duck confit and duck fat!} to start and the Josper grilled hangar steak with extra vegetables {instead of frites. damn those frites looked good}.

Sunday -- party leftovers. love the party leftovers (which were almost all from Whole Foods catering). mom might have skipped actual food to have leftover castle cake and then might have paid for that decision all night long. from 6 weeks of no sugar to a giant slice of cake, not a good move. she fully blames her friend Liz for making such a fabulous cake.

Monday -- Paleo Fish Sticks with Apple, Pecan & Bacon Butternut Squash Hash -- the fish was super easy, super yummy. mom's really trying to work more fish in to all of our diets and this was a good way to do it.

Roasted Pork Loin with Grapes 
(mom adapted this Whole Living recipe for paleo purposes and to, well, make it less fancy since she doesn't have all the fancy cooking gear for which it called. still delicious.)

- one, 1 1/4-pound pork loin roast {mom made a slightly bigger roast and adjusted accordingly}
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ground marjoram
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil 
- 1 pound seedless grapes, separated into small clusters
- 1 shallot, sliced

- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Generously eason pork with salt, pepper and marjoram. 

- Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat {if you have an ovenproof skillet, the whole meal can me made in that. if you don't, you can transfer the roast to a glass baking dish when it needs to go into the oven}. Sear pork on all sides until golden, about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. 

- Add remaining oil to pan with grapes and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Nest pork in center of pan or transfer all to a glass baking dish if you don't have an ovenproof skillet. 

- Transfer pork to oven and roast until it reaches 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove pork and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. 

- Spoon grape mixture over pork and serve. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Grub It Up: Chocolate Chili Sweet Potato Bowl

Last weekend we spent the afternoon at our local Columbia Heights Day moonbouncing, dancing, playing, and sampling some of our food truck favorites, including Pleasant Pops. I tried a hibiscus pop, Kane and daddy had cookies & cream, and mom had a vegan mexican chocolate one. I had a bite of mom's spicy sweet pop and a little lightbulb went off in her head. She'd had her eye on Well Fed's Chocolate Chili recipe, but had been a bit wary that no one else would eat it. She decided to take advantage of my adventurous spirit and try it for dinner. And since we had some leftover sweet, sweet potato mash, she decided to serve it over that and spinach leaves (well, mom and dad had the spinach leaves).

We have to admit -- it was a polarizing dish. Kane liked the idea of chocolate for dinner and he ate it, but he wasn't the biggest fan. The sweetness and cumin reminded daddy too much of Indian food, which he refuses to eat ever since he spent 1/2 a year in India for work. But mom and I LOVED it. The chocolate chili was good, but it was the combination of the chili with the sweet potatoes that made it. So, we thought we'd share it even if it might not be for everyone. You just might get your kids to eat some for the mere fact that it has chocolate in it!

Also, we've had a bunch of inquiries regarding other Paleo/clean eating recipes and tips. What we like, didn't like, etc. We are by no means experts, but thought it would be helpful to share with you our last weekly menu every week, links to recipes, and any helpful notes. So, before we get to the chili recipe, this is what we ate last week:

Tuesday -- Honey-glazed Salmon with Carmelized Figs. Cucumber and red onion salad for mom and dad; green beans for us. This was super sweet and everyone, even the kiddos, liked it.

Wednesday -- Lemon Chicken with Olives. Cauliflower Rice. This chicken is an easy go to that everyone in the fam loves. There are never leftovers.

Thursday -- Garlic Beef Stew over Sweet Potato Mash (mom added about 1 tablespoon maple syrup to the mash and it was awesome). Kane picked the veggies out, of course.

Friday -- Egg and Bacon Cups. Salad for mom and dad; black beans and fruit for us.

Saturday -- Chocolate Chili Sweet Potato Bowl!

Sunday -- Apple Basil Chicken Burgers. Balsamic Carmelized Brussel Sprouts for mom and dad (mom used olive oil instead of bacon fat and no bacon); green beans and brown rice for the kids. This was a new recipe and is now at the top of our favorites list.

Monday -- leftovers.

Chocolate Chili Sweet Potato Bowl

Chocolate Chili
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 medium onions (about 2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted, chopped tomatoes
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
- 1 cup water

- Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, then add the coconut oil. When the oil melted, add onions, stir with a wooden spoon and cook until they're translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and as soon as it's fragrant, about 30 seconds, crumble the ground meat into the pan with your hands, mixing with the wooden spoon to combine. Continue to cook the meat, stirring often, until it's no longer pink.

- In a small bowl, crush the oregano between your palms to release its flavor, then add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Combine with a fork, then add to the pot, stirring like you mean it. Add tomato paste and stir until combined, about 2 minutes.

- Add the tomatoes with their juice, beef broth, and water to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the chili enjoys a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours.

Sweet Potato Mash 
- 2 pounds of peeled sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup grassfed butter
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
{I left out the pecans}

- In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until soft enough to mash. Strain the potatoes and return them to pot.
- Add the butter and mash until all butter is melted and potatoes are smooth.
- Add onions, cinnamon, and maple syrup and mix thoroughly.

In each serving bowl, spoon and spread a layer of sweet potato mash. Place a handful of spinach leaves on top and then spoon chili over the layers. If you'd like, lay a few slices of avocado on it. Mom put a little shredded cheese on ours as well. YUM.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Your Dough is My Dough: Apple Pie Playdough

It's almost holiday baking season, people. And in our house that means the season where mom attempts to replicate holiday baking smells whilst making holiday playdough to avoid the calories associated with eating baked goods (and, let's be honest, to avoid the actual act of baking). Plus, playdough takes much less time to make and consumes much more of our time -- we'll play with playdough for hours. Cam and I both decided that we like apples this year and asked mom if we could make an apple pie. We got apple pie playdough instead. Not exactly what we were looking for, but we'll take it.

We colored 1/2 our batch red for the apples and left 1/2 plain colored to serve as the dough. Mini ramekins and real cinnamon sticks rounded out our usual playdough tools. Cam and I cooked up some awesome pies (and apple pie ice cream, apple pie lollipops, etc.) and the whole house smelled delish. You can check out some of our other yummy playdough recipes on our "Your Dough is My Dough" page, including the fall appropriate Pumpkin Pie Playdough (check out those pics of Cam -- can you believe how little she looks!?!?).

Apple Pie Playdough

- 4 cups flour
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon 
- red food coloring 
- cinnamon sticks 

Combine ingredients through cinnamon and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until most of the moisture is absorbed (it will take a bit). Let it cool on some wax paper. Divide the batch into halves and work some red food coloring into one-half of it. Now make some pies. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Keep It Local: Hirshhorn: "Over, Under, Next," and "Here & There"

oh, the humanity.

From the files of "this was so cool, too bad it just closed," we bring you our visit to two of the Hirshhorn's fab summer exhibits. Actually, I'll qualify that. One of them is still technically open, BUT the museum is closed during this fabulous display of government cooperation (aka the "government shutdown"). In the event that Congress gets their S together before October 6th or the Hirshhorn does you a solid and extends Peter Coffin's exhibition, you still may have a chance to see "Here & There." See? We're not totally useless (unlike others mentioned hererin, uhemm. uhemm).

Actually, we were both pretty useless the day mom took us to see "Over, Under, Next" and "Here & There." Mom thought I was faking a bad ankle sprain, so she insisted we still get out of the house. I insisted I couldn't walk, so she rolled out the old stroller and put me in it. Cam developed a sudden nostalgia for the creaking hulk (I am mos def over the weight limit) and cried, sulked, and pouted the entire time we were at the museum because she wanted to ride. Mom smirked as she remembered shopping for the stroller with daddy and asking the sales clerk what they were supposed to use when their wee babe reached the 40 lb. weight limit. His response? "Then the baby will be 4 and it shouldn't be in a stroller." It all made sense now.

Despite our best efforts to exude serious tudes, we still enjoyed the exhibit of multimedia art from the Hirshhorn's collection in "Over, Under, Next." I even developed a sudden ability to walk in Ann Hamilton's installation of fluttering notes and beeswax (Cami seized that opportunity to jump in the empty stroller). I liked some of Peter Coffin's work in "Here & There," but we both freaked out at his lighting projections on other works from the museum's collection, which of course is where mom really wanted to spend more time. His ginormous and incredibly velvety looking doggie sculpture, however, finally put smiles on our faces. We really, really want one. Like to sleep on.

So maybe use this post as a reminder to check out what the museum has cooking -- we're definitely excited about the upcoming exhibition "Damage Control: Art and Destruction since 1950." Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art had a similar exhibit when we visited last spring and it was one of my all-time favorite art trips.

p.s. after mulling over the fact that I'd been pulling myself along the floor for two days and considering the notion that perhaps I was actually hurt, mom took me to an emergency care clinic that very afternoon. turns out I actually really sprained it. badly. nice, mom. nice.