Meatless Monday: Twitter Recipes

It struck me yesterday, as I was making Indian food for Dan’s birthday dinner, that as of late, I get most of my recipes from people and blogs I follow on Twitter.

I’ll just throw something out there, like, “I need new cabbage recipes” or “Really in the mood for chocolate chocolate chip cookies”, and I’ll get up to 10 links in response to recipes that other people like.

It’s pretty awesome.

Here are two recipes that I made this weekend that came to me via Twitter folks.

Tarka Dal
@hntrpyanfar by way of @mattieflap, my tweaks noted

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, chopped (~1c) (I didn’t use onions. Dan hates cooked onions.)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1.5 TB good garam masala or curry powder 
1 TB cumin
Two skinny carrots, diced (my addition)
3/4 cup lentils (1/4 cup red, 1/2 cup green)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans (my addition), drained and rinsed
2 cup water 
Bit of fresh ginger, scraped with spoon and chopped, or 1/4 tsp pwdered ginger
15 oz. can diced tomatoes

Rinse and pick through the lentils.

Heat olive oil and melt butter; add onion and saute until clear. Add garlic and saute for one or two minutes. Add garam masala and cumin and heat for a minute. Add carrots, lentils, tomatoes, water (I used 1 cup vegetarian stock, 1 cup water).

Heat to boiling, then simmer covered about 20 minutes.  [Cari likes to use the immersion blender on them so you have a smooth puree.]

I served this over brown rice, with store-bought samosas and na’an. I need a good recipe for chutney now, because samosas cry out for chutney!


Mocha Brownie Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup sour cream (I used plain yogurt)
2 tablespoons coffee
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in one bowl.

In another bowl, beat together sugar, brown sugar, butter, sour cream (or yogurt) until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until batter is light and fluffy.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until juts blended. Beat at medium speed 1 minute or until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until slight imprint remains when pressed with finger. Cool on cookie sheets 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

As per Karen, these are very brownie-like cookies, soft rather than crisp. Since I haven’t tackled baking a cake yet, these were Dan’s birthday cookies. The rest of us liked them too!

Back in Control

I am the mom of least resistance.

This is to say, I’m pretty hands-off with my kids. I’m a bad helicopter. I embrace the philosophy of “free range” childhood.

Maybe to a fault.

(Bad Helicopter would be a kick-ass band name.)

I don’t think it became a fault until Michael was born, because then it became less “free range” and more “benign neglect”.

Three-on-one is hard, yo.

And that’s what it is most of the time.

But I’m tired of not being the one in charge. My older two children act without asking. On Saturday morning, that’s okay. I’ll take that extra half hour of sleep, thankyouverymuch. But every single day, especially in the evenings? And mornings? Oy, mornings are fusterclucks of the highest order.

(I gave up swearing for Lent. I vowed to put a $1 in the swear jar each time I uttered a curse word, including Lord’s Name In Vain, and I’m going to donate it to charity. So far Animal Friends is getting $12. Which I guess isn’t too bad — for me — but this Lenten sacrifice is making it hard to write this post.)

It’s just not cool anymore. I’m so tired of yelling — and I yell A LOT. So much so that Michael is learning to yell. Not good. So I am reconstructing boundaries, and installing schedules. This is a work in progress. Here are some of my goals.

1. To get Flora to calm down. Because I am such a reactive parent, she is a very reactive child. I need both of us to be able to step back and take a deep breath instead of losing our sh– I mean, crap. I, obviously, have to lead by example here because she’s 7.

2. To get into a groove. I have schedules for the girls, for mornings and evenings during the week. I typed them up months ago, and I showed them to the girls. And then they ended up in the piles of paper that spring up around my house. Dan dug them out and laminated them, and bought grease pencils. And they ended up in the arts & crafts drawer.

So they just got posted (on Wednesday), and as the girls do the steps, the they check off the boxes. Again, to be obvious, Kate needs a little assistance with this because she can’t quite read on her own yet. The thing is, though, Kate is actually a little better about these steps. Flora gets distracted. Easily.

3. Ask before they act. Flora knows how to turn on the TV, Wii, Blu-ray player, and even surf through streaming Netflix. She has a DSi that she enjoys. My children know where snacks are, how to open the refrigerator, and pour their own beverages. If they are getting a yogurt or some cheese for a before-dinner snack, that’s all fine. But when they are raiding the candy stash instead, it’s not fine. And the screen-time restrictions are tough, tough, tough to enforce. But Flora is not allowed to watch TV, play Wii, or play her DSi unless she is done with her homework.

4. A cleaner house. My children know how to clean up after themselves. They know how to make their beds, put away their toys, clear the table. They need to be reminded to do these things, quite often, but night time treats and/or TV time is on hold until they do them. Heck, they even had to help me sweep up the kitchen floor the other day, and then we went upstairs and read three books before bed. Honestly, they didn’t seem to mind.

5. Follow through. I have thrown out candy (because they didn’t ask), turned off the night time show (because they didn’t ask), and started bedtime early (because they aren’t listening). It is hard when they whine and cry because I don’t really like the whining and crying. It gets on my nerves. But they are (slowly) learning (again) that there are consequences to their impulsive actions and/or not listening to mommy.

Did you ever find yourself in a place where the lunatics were running the asylum? How did you retake the reins?

(Aside: I want to make clear I’m not here to disparage my husband or despair that he doesn’t do enough. He does plenty. Do I wish he were home some of the evenings he’s seeing patients until 8 p.m.? Sure, but that’s not the situation right now.)

Project: Food Budget, Week 23

Food Budget Piggybank

Remaining in Budget:
Grocery: $391.19
CSA: $168
Costco: $200
Eating Out: $105.21

This week’s menu is thin on the ground. Dan’s birthday is this weekend, so the special event budget will be taking a hit! For a good reason, though.

Thursday: Leftovers and Quorn nuggets
Friday: Kids and I eating at a friend’s house
Saturday: Dan and I are eating out.
Sunday: Tarka Dal, with samosas and Indian bread
Monday: Bella’s house
Tuesday: Raviolis or tortellini, with salad
Wednesday: TBD

Gah! I am not doing well on the menu front. I’m not really sure when or where we are going shopping because of the birthday event. I have a feeling I’ll be picking some things up at Target on Saturday for the kids’ dinner. I’m not 100% happy about that, but I also have a 9:30 a.m. birthday party to attend with the girls, and then have to get ready for a night out (overnight!) with my husband.

I guess I just have to regroup. Already! However, I did make those granola bars, and I plan to try them again, too. Win some, lose some.

Let’s see how everyone else did!

* Emily Levenson
* Dairy-Free Cooking
* Test Kitchen Tuesday
* Acquired Tastes
* Fit Flexitarian
* Warm As Pie
* Katy Rank Lev
* My Inner Healthy
* Little Blue Hen
* xox, b
* Project Food Budget 2.0
* Fresh…A New Chapter
* Chandeleah
* Two Eggs Over Easy
* That’s Just Me
* Eat Whole Be Vital
* Four Happy Violets
* Naturally {Un}refined
* Pgh Dad
* yogabeautylife
* What da Health?
* Twice the Twinsanity

Meatless Monday: Granola Bars

(Day late, dollar short. Yadda yadda yadda.)

In case you don’t already know this: Making your own granola is stupid easy. Plus, it tastes really good and if you make it yourself, you’ll know all six to eight ingredients that you put in it. It stores well, and is perfect for breakfast with vanilla yogurt.

I plan on making it all the time now.

I got a recipe from a friend that I haven’t tried yet (her husband loves granola, and so she makes it by the bucketful), but I did try this recipe for Maple Pecan Granola from Emily Levenson. I added dried cranberries because I like dried fruit in my granola. It’s wonderful, and was wonderfully easy.

After I figured out how to make granola, I became obsessed with finding out if I could make granola bars. Granola bars (or as Kate calls them “granilla” bars) are a lunchbox staple for my girls. But I’m not fond of my choices. Store-bought granola bars have a lot ingredients, many of them include corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, and the healthy ones are definitely targeted at adults, and as such aren’t very chewy or sweet. (I’m looking at you Kashi TLC.)

Fortunately, at the same time I was becoming obsessed with this, Miss @mindymin, who blogs at, was in experimentation mode. The same day I tweeted, “Do I have to make granola in order to make granola bars?” she posted this recipe, which is what I used as my guideline. Her solution to making them chewy rather than hard/crunchy is puffed rice cereal, and it’s **perfect**.

I give all the credit to Mindy on these. I had to make some adjustments due to what I had at home, but the recipe at her site is the perfect guideline. What follows is my recipe based on hers, and you should check out hers because she’s a pro. Plus she suggests drizzling chocolate over the finished product for a nice dessert bar. Also: she takes pictures.

Chewy Granilla Bars
adapted from Mindy Bakes

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pepitas (roasted and salted)
1 cup chopped raw cashews
1 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350. I rough chopped the cashews and peanuts in my food processor. You have to be careful not to reduce them to nut flour though. Nine or ten short pulses should do it. Combine all these ingredients on a cookie tray or half sheet tray on parchment paper, and toast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir up the ingredients halfway through toasting time.

3 cups puffed rice cereal — Put into large bowl. If you are using dried fruit add it to the cereal and toss.

8 oz. honey*
8 oz. agave juice/nectar*
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup natural peanut butter*

Combine these ingredients into a sauce pot on medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is completely dissolved. Don’t let mixture boil.

Combine oat and nut mixture with cereal (and fruit) in the large bowl. Toss gently. Pour the syrup over the cereal mixture and fold together with a spoon or spatula until everything is coated in syrup.

Press mixture into a parchment lined half sheet tray firmly and evenly. If you wet your hands, they won’t stick to the mixture. Be careful because it’s warm! Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Use a pizza wheel to cut into bars. Wrap bars individually.

*You can use 16 oz of honey, but I only had 1 cup. You can also use maple syrup, which is what I would have used except when I went to get it I discovered I was all out. So I went with the agave nectar that my husband has to hand. (I need to buy a new bottle of that now, too.) Instead of peanut butter, you can use almond butter, nutella, or chocolate chips.

I’m going to cut this recipe in half next time, and use cranberries and chocolate chips.

Kate gave me a thumbs up on the granilla bars, but Flora is ambivalent. I think they are excellent as well, and I feel really good about having discovered a great recipe to use. Thanks, Mindy!

PSA: Forget the Terrible 2s. It’s 3 That’s Going to Kick Your Butt.

In two separate timelines yesterday, I had conversations about 3-year-olds.

The conclusion is pretty much the title of this post.

Look, 2 is definitely challenging.

A newborn is like a soft little marshmallow. Or a houseplant. A very needy, demanding houseplant, to be sure — I don’t know of a plant that wakes you up for water at 2 a.m. And then again at 4 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 6 a.m.

But, still, newborns stay in one place. They really just need food, cuddles, warm clothes, and sleep. (A lot of food sometimes.) Oh, and diaper changes. Lots and lots of diaper changes.

Then they start rolling, and army crawling, and walking, and after about 12 months, you have no more peace as a parent. And then they start talking. But they are cute as the dickens, and despite the constant monitoring and mess, there is not a thing in the world like smiles, hugs, and kisses from your toddler. They are pure id and pure love.

Two years old is challenging for all the reasons the baby books tell you. Here’s a completely loving and dependent child who is suddenly discovering she is a completely different entity than you. And her priorities are different than yours. You want to clean the kitchen, and she wants to draw. You want to put shoes on her so you can go to the store, and she wants to explore under the bathroom sink. You want to go in, she wants to stay out. You want to sit down, and she wants to turn her room into a toy dump.

Sometimes, absolutely, cleaning the kitchen can go hang, and you should sit down and draw or play dress up or watch a Disney movie with your child.

But sometimes, the kitchen really needs to be cleaned.

Two is the age where naps, in your child’s opinion, become optional, and vegetables are negotiable.

Now, take 2, and add a bigger, stronger child, a more willful child, and A CHILD THAT CAN SPEAK. She knows her own mind (or at least what she wants RIGHT NOW), and she’s going to tell you about it. Oh, and eventually, you’ll be trying to potty train her, too. This child will defy you in words and actions. She will pull away, pull away, pull away, then cling like saran wrap. She will do everything in her power to prove to you that everything is in her power.

She is, sadly, wrong about that.

Age 3 required more deep breathing and patience than I thought I had. Especially the year that Kate was 3 and I was pregnant with Michael. If you are going to have more than one child, don’t wait until you have a 3-year-old. Trust me on this.

Three-year-olds don’t go out of their way to drive their parents nuts. It only seems that way. This is the age of serious boundary testing (until they are teenagers). Your 3-year-old will push and push and push, and then push some more, and keep pushing well past the point that you feel is reasonable — because he or she is not a reasonable being, she is THREE, and if you give in at any point of that pushing, even after the temper tantrum and the dried tears, your 3-year-old will realize that he or she can get away with *anything*. As @MichelleSmiles put it on Twitter yesterday: “They understand their power by 3.”

Age 3 is the reason the phrase “pick your battles” was invented. Some kids will fight you on *everything*. Some kids will only fight you on everything every other day. But rest assured, fighting will happen. Know what is important to you when you get ready to engage.

The worst part of age 3 for me both times was potty training. I tried one thing with Flora and found it incredibly frustrating. I tried a different tact with Kate, and found it incredibly frustrating. Potty encouraging (that’s more or less the tact I tried with Kate) was especially no fun because I was so nauseous all the time. I have no advice. I’m pretty sure I’m going to let Michael train himself. Or offer Flora a million dollars to do it for me.

Minor aside: 3-year-old poop? Is vile.

In conclusion: It’s time that we spread the word to new parents far and wide. Forget about the terrible 2s. The terrible 2s will seem adorable after you have survived the terrifying 3s. The best advice I can give you is two-fold: 1. Pick your battles. 2. Hold on for the ride. It’s going to be a wild and wooly year. But you and your child will survive. Age 4 is right around the corner.