Category Archives: recipes

Family Dinner: Asian Meatball Casserole

Last night was Family Dinner night and it was Pannonica’s turn to choose what to make and cook. She chose asian flavored meatballs and I had the idea to make an easy casserole out of it. We used fried rice, some stir fry veggies, and the meatballs she made. It came out great! The whole family enjoyed it and there was just enough left over for both girls to take for lunch today. That’s a win win in my book!

It tasted so good, I almost forgot to get a picture! Thank goodness I remembered while packing the leftovers into the girls’ lunch boxes. This recipe was super fun and easy. When cooking by myself I probably would have stir fried my own veggies and made my own fried rice. I was taking into consideration my 8 year old’s enthusiasm and energy level after a long day of school. This whole meal probably took us 45 minutes from start to finish. When choosing a recipe to make with kids, you definitely need to keep in mind that they move much slower and so a 20 prep time will be longer. Keep it easy, let them do most of the work, and have a great time!


I’d love to hear what you and your kiddos enjoy making together. We can always use some new ideas!

Asian Meatball Casserole

Ingredients for the Meatballs

1/4 cup Panko crumbs

1 lb ground turkey white meat

1/4 lb ground turkey dark meat

1/2 tbsp ginger paste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 scallions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Casserole Ingredients

3 cups fried rice (I picked this up at my local Safeway deli counter, but feel free to make your own!)

1 bag of frozen stir fry veggies

Teriyaki sauce

How to Make the Asian Meatball Casserole

Makes 16

Preheat oven to 500F

Spray a non-stick cooking spray onto a cookie sheet and baking rack. Place baking rack onto cookie sheet.

Put all the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix it all together with clean hands. Roll mixture into small meatballs. Put into oven and cook for 15-18 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350F

Next, cook the stir fry veggies according to the bag. Either stove top or microwave works fine. (If you want to use fresh veggies even better! Try red bell pepper, green beans, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms).

Once the veggies are done, pour them into a 8×9 baking pan. Add the fried rice and the meatballs. Drizzle 3 or 4 tbsp of the Teriyaki sauce on top and put in oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!



Family Dinner: Quinby’s Tomato Soup and Bacon Pesto Sandwiches



Wednesday night is Family Dinner night at our house which means one of the girls, depending on the week, gets to choose what we are having and does the majority of the work cooking and getting the dish on the table. This week it was Little Miss Q’s turn and she chose tomato soup and bacon pesto sandwiches, her favorite meal.

I thought this was a great dinner choice since we have a tomato or two in our garden. Ha!!


And my friend/neighbor Anne had given me a nice bundle of basil from her garden the day before.


Delicious! The basil smelled so good in my house! I just love using fresh ingredients! Speaking of which, we also had some of this fresh baked from New Seasons that morning.


Add in some bacon and some gouda and here’s what you get.


I got so excited to eat it I almost forgot to snap a picture. Note the half-eaten nature of the sandwich and tell-tale ring of soup around the bowl.

Now, if you’ve got an abundance of tomatoes in your garden or a basil plant that is just begging to be eaten here’s what you do…

Quinby’s Tomato Soup and Bacon Pesto Sandwich

Serves 6

Soup Ingredients

A couple of pounds of tomatoes (we used 12 med/big ones and a handful of cherry tomatoes)

a handful of basil leaves

about 1 cup of organic low-sodium chicken stock

about 3 tbsp cream (we used soy creamer)

3 cloves garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper


Pesto Ingredients

a few handfuls of basil leaves

olive oil

a handful of pine nuts

a 2 inch chunk of parmesan cheese

Sandwich Ingredients

1 maybe 2 loaves of sour dough bread







Pick a bunch of tomatoes (we used about 12 mid/big ones and a few cherries)

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, removing the seeds, and put on baking pan allowing for some elbow room. Chop up three cloves of garlic and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over the whole thing and put in a cold oven.

Put your bacon on a rack inside a pan in same cold oven. Turn oven on to 375F and cook both tomatoes and bacon for about 35-45 minutes. Check every 5 minutes after 20. Your tomato skins should be popping off and the tomatoes should be slightly caramelized.

Meanwhile dry toast your pine nuts in a frying pan over medium heat until they start to get brown (maybe 10 minutes). Grate your parmesan cheese. Put a few handfuls of basil into your blender or food processor. Add the grated parmesan, the toasted pine nuts, and a couple tbsp of olive oil. Blend. Add more oil or a little water if you are having trouble getting it chopped up. Scrap the pesto into a bowl and set aside. You’ll probably need to clean out your blender if you’re going to use it for the soup too.

Next remove your tomatoes and bacon. Pull the skins off the tomatoes and either toss aside or eat. Let tomatoes cool about 5 minutes and then put in blender. Add a handful of basil and the chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Add cream, salt and pepper and blend for another few seconds. The soup should still be warm from the roasted tomatoes, but if you want it hotter just pour into a pot and put it on the stove on medium heat until ready.

Now slice your bread, put butter on one side of each slice and pesto on the other. Add bacon, gouda, and tomato slice. Put sandwich together with butter sides out. Cook in a covered frying pan for a few minutes. Once the cheese has started to melt flip over and finish cooking on other side.

Put your soup in a bowl. Sprinkle a dash of oregano on top. Plate your sandwich. And enjoy! Q and I would love to know how you liked our dish. What else do you like making with basil and tomatoes from the garden. We might need some more ideas!!

Cranberry Perk: A Guilt-Free Bubbly

This year has been a tough one for my family. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones, so hugs all around. HUG! Unfortunately, when I get stressed, my health is usually the first ball I drop. I stop exercising and junk food starts creeping back into my diet. As the school year begins, and we edge into autumn (my absolute favorite time of year!), I’ve decided to restart my journey toward a healthier ME.

My ongoing mantra for the past week or so has been, “Stay positive. Stay focused. Make healthy decisions for my body.” It really does help to have something for my mind to go to when things get fuzzy or overwhelming.

With all the other junk foods I’m systematically removing from my diet, soda is one of the hardest. There comes a certain time of day, usually around two or three pm as my morning caffeine starts to wear off, when I just need the pick me up of bubbles. So here’s my new go-to bubbly drink.


I’m calling it a Cranberry Perk. It’s quite simple, tasty, and healthy! I use my soda stream (thank you Cory!) and some Santa Cruz Organic Cranberry Nectar and that’s it! Simply make your bubbly water, then fill the rest of the soda stream bottle with the cranberry juice (about 4 oz, which means approx 60 calories per liter as opposed to the 500 calories a liter in regular soda pop). Add a lime if you want to get really crazy!

If you don’t have a soda stream, sparkling water will do the trick. Whichever you use, I’m betting this soda substitute will give you just the perk you need! What is your favorite soda substitute?


Nature Inspires Art

It has been a gorgeous September here in Portland, OR. Aside from being sick (for the second time this month!!), we’ve been trying to enjoy it to the fullest. Q and I have been going on nature walks every afternoon after her preschool lets out. I take the dog, she takes her little basket, and we walk and talk and collect whatever we spy as pretty or interesting. No picking from gardens allowed!

A friend in the neighborhood has a huge chestnut tree or conker tree across the street from her house. Q and I gathered as many as we could this early in the season. We especially like the ones still in the seed.

Before long, we started creating art with our findings. This brought an idea to my mind and I’ve decided to try it – Random Object Illustrations. For the whole month of October I’m going to try my hand at drawing on found objects. They don’t have to be from nature per say, just whatever item catches my fancy.

I’ve bought new pens for the project, talked my friend Anne into participating in it with me, and even had a trial run with this leaf. If any one else is interested in sharing their own Random Object Illustrations feel free to contact me and we can link up, or if there is enough interest I’ll make a Flickr group.

Flexing and improving my drawing abilities is something I’m always striving for. Having a project ensures that I’ll actually set aside some time everyday for practice. And as we all know, practice makes perfect. Anyone else a total failure at piano?

Speaking of practice, I’m trying to get the hang of dairy and egg free (vegan) pancakes. I made these pumpkin, apple cider, and chocolate chips ones last week and while they were okay I wouldn’t exactly recommend them. Any tips or recipes would be much appreciated! Happy Autumn! Happy drawing! And Happy eating!

Pinterest Strikes Again

I pinned these a week or so ago, but probably would have never made them if I hadn’t seen this post from local crafty mom blogger, Deb Miller.  (I’m totally going to take my family on that wonderful looking hike too, Deb. Now who is the stalker??! :))

The muffins came out fairly well. I substituted egg replacer for the eggs, fructivia for the stevia, and unsweetened organic soy milk for the 1%. Quinby and I topped a few of them with chocolate chips, a few with walnuts, and a few with raisins. We baked while Hubs and PZ worked in the garden. Overall a nice Sunday afternoon after a bit of a hectic morning spent buying new shoes for the girls at, of all place, THE MALL!

Xtra Xtra Merry Merry Please!

“Extra, extra, merry, merry please!” my kiddos begged after I gave them each a sip of my yummy breakfast smoothie. They wanted their own and they wanted it NOW! Totally understandable, because this new smoothie is so rich and sweet and yummy. And it’s dairy-free, vegan, and fairly healthy, too.

What you need to make one serving of this scrumptious smoothie is this –

1 ripe organic banana

1/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

2 heaping spoonfuls of vanilla soy yogurt

1 1/2 heaping spoonfuls of organic creamy peanut butter

2 handfuls of organic granola (I used pecan maple)

3 ice cubes

Toss all the ingredients into your blender (I LOVE my VitaMix) and blend until smooth. Stick a fun straw in it and find a hiding spot to keep your kiddos from finding you and stealing the smoothie out of your hands. Enjoy!

P.S. I tried to get a cute picture of my kiddos who DID actually steal my smoothie, but I couldn’t get a good one because they were slurping and grunting like a bunch of little piggies over the glass. Not cute! But very yummy!

Vegan Mac and Cheeze

I made this tonight with turkey hot dogs and broccoli. I thought it tasted really good. Hubs missed the cheese and the girls liked it so-so. It was WAY too much for the four of us though. Good for our next southern food party.

I’m trying a new recipe tonight…

I’m trying a new recipe out tonight. It’s a healthy, vegan, potato starch, refined sugar, and fat-free banana blueberry bread. I know, it sounds awful. But look at it!

I used our handmade applesauce from last fall and yummy organic blueberries. My agave nectar measurement got pretty loosey-goosey because I finished off one bottle and started a new one. Speaking of which, does anyone know the difference between the color grades of agave nectar? All the sugar substitution is fairly new to me.

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it tastes. Till then…


Must Make Monday – Dairy Free Foods

These are the yummy looking foods I want to make tomorrow. I haven’t done a lot of cooking lately, so a couple of small projects is just what I need.

This Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette looks like a very good lunch. Can’t wait! I think I even have all the supplies!

We aren’t eating potato chips anymore and while I love the INKA plantain chips, these apple chips look like a good way to use those pink lady apples I bought yesterday. The girls will love having these in their lunch boxes for Wednesday.

This almond milk steamer looks amazingly yummy for the girls’ at tea time. No more sneaking sips from my afternoon Chai!

This spinach tomato orzo soup and roasted butternut squash salad with soy balsamic dressing look like a lovely dinner and a great way to end the day.

It’s Wednesday. What’s For Dinner?

Hubs is in LA today. I decided since it’d be just me and the girls for dinner I could try a meat-free meal. I saw this last night and it looked mighty good! Does anyone else troll Pinterest at night for tomorrow’s dinner ideas? I didn’t think it was just me.

I followed Jules’ recipe, but added two peeled and chopped carrots. I think noodles and or cabbage would be really good in this, too. I can see why she says it is addictive. So simple to make (15-20 minutes max) and really easy to combine new flavors into a soup that is totally your own.

Knowing my girls would be resistant to a new dish I also baked this up. See the “Going Bananas” sign? That was me trying to frost this banana cake while also holding a crying/cranky Q and coaxing PZ to practice piano when all she wanted to do was watch TV.

The cake was also super easy to make. If you’ve been looking to add a vegan banana chocolate chip cake to your recipe file, this is a good one!


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan.In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil, then add the mashed bananas. Add water and vanilla, stirring to combine.Add the flour mixture, stirring just until wet. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.


  • ½ cup Earth Balance butter
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk

Whip Earth Balance until creamy. Add sugar and cinnamon and beat for a couple of minutes. Add vanilla and almond milk. Beat until light and fluffy on high speed, about 5 more minutes. Frost cooled cake. Add more chocolate chips and/or banana slices as decoration if you want. Enjoy!

So that’s what’s for dinner at my house. What’s for dinner at yours?