Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Birthday Season is Behind Us

We have been in birthday mode for about two months, and it is now finished. Our first daughter is feeling some withdrawal, but the adult members of the family are relieved. It's funny how birthdays seem to come in batches. For us it is the end of June/beginning of July. Baby girl has a birthday, seven days later is the toddler's birthday and then five days later is my husband's birthday. So yes, three birthdays in 12 days. Now under normal circumstances this might result in a whirlwind of celebrations that last about 2 weeks, and that would be a lot of cake and parties, but this year it was a whirlwind of planning, parties, cake and balloons that lasted about two months.

We really included the toddler in all aspects of preparations for her Rainbow Dance Party. The planning probably lasted about a month, and that's pretty much all she talked about for the month of May. We had the party at the end of May before we left for a summer in Upstate NY. Then we spent June hearing about her "real birthday" was coming and that she would be turning 3! (We created a bit of a birthday monster.) The baby turned 1 while we were on our VA trip, and we had a party for both girls with that part of the family. We celebrated the toddler's actual birthday with just our little immediate family, and then again two days later with Mimi and Grampie. Then it was two parties on the 4th of July and then a party for my husband. Whew, that was a lot of cake. We now have to get back on track with our eating. The toddler has started requesting cake with every meal, and we don't want that to be the new normal.

In our girls' minds, it is not a birthday without balloons. So we decorated NY house too. The owner had the branches already mounted, so it made it easy to hang the balloons.

The rainbow hand-kites from the birthday party helped us create a balloon chandelier.

Of course, the front porch needed some balloons too.

At this point I guess I'll also officially have to change my daughters' names. The baby is now officially a toddler now that she's one and has been walking since 9.5 months, and the toddler I guess is a preschooler now that she is three.

This has been our favorite cake to make for birthdays (besides the rainbow 6 layer cake - which was an all time crowd pleaser). It's simple, vegan/egg-free, and very easy for kids to help make.

Usually we have served the cake unfrosted with a dollop of whipped cream and strawberries. Our preschooler wanted "frosting" this time, so we went ahead and spread the whipped cream on the cake and did a giant outline of her first initial in sprinkles. Dada went all out and added ice cream to the mix too.

A good friend shared this recipe with me, and we have made it for every birthday since. Mollie Katzen, of The Moosewood Cookbook fame, has a kids' cookbook called, Honest Pretzels. In it there is a recipe for a great Made-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake. We like to serve it with whipped cream and strawberries. This time around we frosted it with whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Shortly after we felt like we were settling in at "NY house" as our toddler calls it, we had to make a trek down to VA for a family wedding. After we saw how long it took to get acclimated in our NY rental, we flirted with the idea of canceling last minute. But it was our chance to see a part of the family we hadn't seen since our move to AZ, so we decided to brave it. We were gone for 5 days, and now we were glad we made the trip. The kids survived the 8 hour drive each way and sleeping in 3 different places, and it was great to get caught up with family. We like to think that we are helping make them more resilient and flexible, but we've yet to see the proof.

We were gone just long enough to make us eat up the food in the fridge before we left. The last night before the trip we found ourselves with lots of leftover spaghetti squash and I thought spaghetti alla carbonara sounded good. We only had one egg and no bacon, but we made it work. Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara was born.

Our recipe was a bit skimpy on the eggs and the mushrooms, but it was all we had. I decided to write the recipe the way we ate it because it is always nice to know that you can stretch some sparse rations into a decent meal.

Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara with a side of broccoli and salad.
Vegetarian Paleo Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

1 large spaghetti squash
2 T coconut oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
3/4 C coconut milk
1 T herbes de Provence
Parmesan Cheese (if you eat dairy)-optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bake spaghetti squash until it just gives when squeezed (about 45 minutes to an hour). Immediately cut in half to help it stop cooking. Remove the seeds. Scrape the squash out with a fork to create the noodles.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook until tender. Add the garlic and the spaghetti squash and heat through. Add the egg, coconut milk and herbes. Stir continuously for the egg and coconut milk to evenly coat the squash. Cook for 2 minutes. Serve and eat immediately. Great topped with some Parmesan cheese (if you eat dairy). Enjoy.

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