Savory Lentil-Mushroom Vegetarian Burgers

We’re going vegetarian for the next few months to cut down on our grocery bill so I’ve begun to get more creative in the kitchen. I forgot to soak dry beans so I knew our only option for dinner was lentils. Tired of making dal, I immediately scoured Pinterest for a delectable lentil burger that didn’t require weird ingredients. Lo, and behold I found one from this awesome blog, 84th and 3rd. I had to make some tweaks since I didn’t have (a) Marmite or Vegemite (b) tomato paste or (c) lots of time. It turned out great! Details below.

Savory Lentil Mushroom Vegetarian Burgers

Savory Lentil-Mushroom Vegetarian Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 c masoor dal (lentils), dry
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp tahini *the secret ingredient!*
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Instructions:

1. Bring the dal and 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 25-30 minutes until soft. Drain and keep the lentils to the side, covered.
2. Saute the onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt in olive oil for 5-7 minutes until the onions begin to turn golden. Add the chopped mushrooms, oregano, rosemary, and chili flakes; saute for 5 more minutes until soft.
3. Add the onion-mushroom mixture to the drained lentils. Mix together and add the tahini. Taste and add the remaining 1/4 tsp salt (or more or less to taste.)
4. Remove half of the final mixture and puree it with your immersion blender until as smooth as hummus. Mix with the remaining not-pureed half of the lentils.
5. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and form 6 patties by spooning out 6 equal portions of the lentil mixture onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced, and forming them into patties with your hand.
6. Put the baking sheet into the freezer for at least 15 minutes or in the fridge for 60 minutes to firm the patties before cooking. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400F (200C)
7. Bake the patties in the heated oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on how cold your patties were before putting them in the oven it may take longer.) Then, flip the patties over and bake for 10 more minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Savory Lentil Mushroom Vegetarian Burgers

I loved eating these vegetarian burgers on these homemade bread machine hamburger buns. I probably let mine rise too long and ended up with huge buns. I used this recipe here and it was absolutely perfect. I nuked my milk for 30 seconds in a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup which brought it to the right temperature. Definitely making these burgers and buns again!

Bread Machine Hamburger Buns

Cat-Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Our daughter’s second birthday party was this past weekend and we had a blast! I took inspiration from all sorts of places I found on Pinterest and this blog. Ultimately decided on the following party games: Go-Fish! Using the bottom half of our fishing poles with a magnet tied to the end, kids of all ages had fun picking up paper fish on paper clips. (Of course I also made cat ear headbands and tails for the three of us to wear!) fishing game for a cat-themed party

Feed the Cat–this bean bag toss game was super simple to make. I was initially going to paint a white poster board, but my mom recommended using foam board and when I found a black one I realized no painting is necessary. I ended up just cutting the mouth and ears out with an X-Acto knife. I saw bean bags at Walmart for $8 which is ridiculous so I just used some leftover fabric from the tent I made for our daughter and put pinto beans in them. Way cheaper!

Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Cat–this was also very easy to construct, but I think maybe I could have done it differently. I used sticky felt and stuck it to a poster board but the older kids found it to easy because they just felt where the cat ended and stuck the tail in the right spot every time. Maybe if I surrounded the cat with felt it would have been more challenging? Or perhaps I should have just drawn the cat on the poster board and given the kids tails with tape on them to stick on there. I’ll experiment with it next time… Games for a Cat Party Of course, a birthday party isn’t complete without a custom cake from the best bakery in Allen, TX! We ordered this delicious strawberry cake with vanilla buttercream from Sunshine Cupcake Bakery. Perfectly moist and cuts like a dream. We are addicted to this place. Best fondant cakes in Allen, TX I just loved the detail on this cake. The fondant cats were the sweetest, and fortunately since they were just on top we did not have to cut into little kittens on the day of the party. That would have been traumatizing! Cat Cake Allen TX All in all it was a really great party. Everyone seemed to have a great time and the kids were happy with the games. I had brought my old childhood Bop It! which helped get the kids interested in playing games, and I’ve been having fun ever since I put batteries in it again. One of the best moves we made this year was ordering catering from Subway. We ordered way too much sandwich. We should have ordered only 6 feet of sandwiches for the mix of 25 kids and adults that came to the party, but now we know better for next year.

For party favors each kid received a delicious sugar cookie from Sunshine Cupcake Bakery. I love how they coordinated with the cake and were perfect for the cat theme. We had extra cookies left over and they were delicious even days after the party.

Custom Cat Cookies from Sunshine Cupcake Bakery

 

Tell me about your cat themed parties in the comments!

Vegetarian Middle Eastern-Style Bake

Vegetarian Middle Eastern Bake

Delectable summer veggies in a smooth and flavorful tomato-cheese sauce will satisfy curious palates.

Ingredients:

1c dry lentils
1 eggplant
2 zucchinis

Cheese Sauce
2T all-purpose flour
2T butter
2c milk
1c colby jack cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Tomato Sauce
1T coconut oil
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
2 small chili peppers or 1 small bell pepper
a few mint leaves, torn (optional)
2 fl oz tomato paste
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin, powdered
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/3 c water (or less!)

Topping

shredded colby jack cheese

Directions:

1. Put lentils in a medium sauce pan. Cover with water. Boil 50-60 minutes or until tender. Check and add water if it boils off before the lentils are cooked. Once cooked drain excess water if necessary.

2. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Slice the zucchini length-wise into thirds. Place on a greased (with Pam!) cookie sheet and spray with olive oil Pam. Broil for 7 minutes. The vegetables should be just beginning to brown. Remove and set aside to cool.

3. Cheese Sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until all of the flour has been absorbed by the butter. Slowly add the milk, whisking all the while. Heat the milk stirring often until it begins to froth/boil. Add the cheese and quickly stir until sauce is smooth. Turn off the stove and stir in the salt, paprika, and pepper. Set aside and let cool.

4. Tomato Sauce: Thinly slice the onions, garlic, and pepper(s). Heat the coconut oil and when melted add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Sautée until the onions begin to have golden-brown edges. Add the tomato paste and mint leaves; cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat for 8 minutes or until tomatoes are completely soft. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, and paprika. Stir until the spices are evenly distributed and then add 1/3 c of water or less until the sauce is a consistency you like. Add the cooked lentils and stir until evenly mixed.IMG_8304[1]

5. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8×8 glass pan. Layer: Eggplant slices on the bottom. Top with 1/2 tomato-lentil sauce. Top with 1/2 cheese sauce. Top with remaining sliced vegetables. Top with remaining 1/2 tomato-lentil sauce. Top with remaining 1/2 cheese sauce. Sprinkle gratutitiously with shredded cheese. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until top begins to lightly brown.

 

Enjoy!

Layered Eggplant and Zucchini Bake

 

Veggie Round-Up 2

Image from https://www.jbgorganic.com/guide

 

Time has flown by! I’m absolutely in love with our CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Gardens. Everything is fresh and absolutely divine. The imported produce from the grocery store can not last nearly as long. I had spinach in my fridge for two weeks before I finally was able to cook it and the spinach was just as crisp as it was when I received it. Having vegetables on hand at all times has been a great blessing and really improved our eating habits…especially as I’m embarking on the 21-Day Fix.

These are the vegetables I received last Friday:

  • Artichokes
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Leeks
  • Curly Kale
  • Flat Parsley
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Spring Onions
  • Radishes

I was so excited to see the artichokes becuase I’ve never cooked with them before! Well…okay I did cook them once in the crockpot but it was a Pinstrosity. Pro-tip: artichokes contain a compound called cyanin which makes sweet & semi-sweet wine taste disgusting. I definitely sacrified a Pino Grigio to that experiment; neither the sauce or wine was edible.

The carrots from this farm are so perfect I always just roast them with a little oil and kosher salt at 400F for 20 min or longer.

I’ve been making kale chips but I desperately need a salad spinner. I saw this collapsible one and it is on my wish list.

The recipes for this week and next:

Artichokes seasoned with Parsley and Lemon Zest Pesto

Spring Vegetable Curry featuring Dandelion Greens and Coconut Milk

Citrus Olive Couscous (substituting yellow spring onions for yellow onions)

Quinoa with roasted beets and pears

*note: beets and pears are a match made in heaven*

Fingerling Potato Hash with Rainbow Chard and Leeks

*note: I’ve made this before & it is absolutely unbelievably delicious*

 

Looking forward to cooking this week! We had an excellent but exhausting day at the zoo and I have a lot of exciting things in the works this week. Update to come.

 

Expanding Horizons

Lemon Tart

I just got back from La Madeleine tonight and feel elated from the buzz of good conversation just like I do every two weeks.  Of course bringing home a lemon tart to eat makes the evening even better.

I took the leap to join a French conversation meetup group in Plano. The group was so much more fun that I thought it would be. I am generally very shy and averse to the awkward process of making new friends, but the meetup group is so laid back.

I had toyed with the idea of going to a meetup group before but I felt that I would be out of place. I really wish I had joined this cool French meetup group in Richmond, VA when we were living there! Other groups I would join if I had time:

Some meetup groups have membership fees and some are free. If I started my own group I would do something like an article club. I really love going to the French meetup because I get the opportunity to meet a bunch of different people and talk to adults (which I don’t do very often.) Here are my tips for anyone looking to join a foreign language meetup group who may be intimidated by conversation in their non-native tongue or even if you speak well but have never been to one.

1. Think about one topic you want to tell everyone about before you go and look up some related vocabulary. For example, if you want to discuss your trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras find out how to say: “parade,” “beaded necklace,” and “jazz”

2. Don’t get hung up if you can’t continue a conversation in the foreign language; you can always switch to your native language and then segue back to the foreign language when you’re out of the thick of it

3. Everyone gets nervous and so many of the conversationalists are rusty because they’ve either had no one to talk to or they are just learning. If someone makes a mistake you can gently correct them but swiftly keep the conversation going

4. Different accents can be confusing at first, but after a few meetups you will begin to understand everyone quite well!

5. If you have an awkward time be sure to try to go to more than one meetup because a different mix of people may suit you better—for most meetups, only a small percentage of the members actually meet so each occasion has a new face.

 

I had an awesome time and can’t wait until next week. Have you ever done a meetup before?

Coucou!

 

Notre Dame 2009I stop short of calling myself a francophile because that always sounds incredibly pretentious…but I suppose I am one! (I still don’t like that word though.)  After five years of French class and two trips to France (a picture from my most recent trip above,) I’ve always wanted to share this beautiful language with someone…and now I can! I’ve chosen to teach my daughter both French and English. There are so many opinions on how to do this. Some choose the “one-parent-one-language” option, but I really want my daughter to be proficient in both English and French, so I mingle both throughout the day. My husband initially worried that she was understanding nothing, but a couple weeks ago I realized that she understood both goodbye in English and au revoir in French because she started waving goodbye when she hears either word. Totally adorable!

I introduced my daughter to French with the wonderful magazine Picoti published by Milan-Jeunesse. The magazine is designed for children 9 months old to 3 years old, but I started reading these to my daughter when she was only 4 months old. You’re never too young for reading! I considered subscribing to the English equivalent Hello” published by Highlights but at the time I felt the cartoons were just not as cute as “Picoti” and the vocabulary was not as rich. We read English books instead which are much more accessible than French books—and more affordable.

When I was growing up my mom subscribed to other Milan-Jeunesse magazines. I have fond memories of leafing through them even though the vocabulary was daunting for 10-year-old me. Even now I struggle with the vocabulary! As Sanaya is on the cusp of beginning to speak I’m feeling the pressure to speak better French. Like blogger CarrieAnne, I began to question if eventually my daughter will learn French better and faster than me. At first we would go to the park and I would be babbling away in French. Suddenly, I would want to propose we go down the slide and I realize the French words just aren’t there! I switched to English, and that night I had to watch some cartoons about going to the park to fill the gap.

In addition to reveries about our future mother-daughter language (as my husband calls it—he is convinced I want a secret language all our own) I dream of owning property in France. These days I would love to have an apartment in France. The real estate market there is nightmarishly a sellers’ market.

View of the Seine

Isn’t this view of the River Seine just breathtaking? It can be yours for the small price of only $2M. I’m waiting to win the lottery… Amazingly in Paris this only affords you 1000 square feet. Whereas in my backyard, you can spend that much and get 6000 square feet. But I would so rather be in the heart of Paris than in the comparatively boring suburbs of Dallas.

House Bazas

So maybe this is more my pace…an 1850 stone farmhouse in the village where my grandmother grew up is only $165k. Just looking at thes pictures makes me want to run out and get a Powerball ticket!

If you won the lottery would you buy property abroad?

 

Weekend Recap

Cloud Cakes The Dream CaféThis weekend started off with delicious cloud cakes from The Dream Café in Addison, which was definitely a good choice. It was a very laid back place which was great for a Saturday morning brunch. We were celebrating my friend’s birthday—25!—and bemoaning apartment living. In the world of Pinterest one can’t help but be envious of these gorgeous put together flats. Decorating my apartment with pictures and artwork I love has been a way to make my rental mine without all of the messy work of painting and then coating the wall with Kilz when we move out. I have such an eclectic collection that nothing but a gallery wall made it all work. I found inspiration from this blog. The author has such the coolest style for everything!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpSaturday afternoon I found this book at Target. Although I’ve already started the Konmari method of decluttering, I found myself newly focused and excited after devouring the book Saturday night. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is such a quick read and a gentle, reassuring introduction into getting rid of things that don’t spark joy.

My daughter is teething this week; I think she is getting 2-3 teeth at a time so her sleep schedule has been nonexistent. I was a complete zombie after only sleeping 2-4 hours at a time for days. Needless to say, I slept through the Chinese New Year’s celebration on Sunday. We decided, instead, to dart out into the chilly drizzle and get frozen yogurt. “Isn’t it too cold for frozen yogurt?” my husband asked. My response? “Never!”

Yogurtland Toppings

I abosolutely love these pink pomegranate popping boba at Yogurtland. I had some terrible boba tea one time in Austin, but every time I go to the frozen yogurt shop I grab a load of tart plain frozen yogurt and a mountain of boba.

Sunday night, I went a little Konmari crazy and decided to organize our massive mounds of papers. I said goodbye to employee handbooks, scanned product manuals, and filed away our tax documents. I found this absolutely adorable vertical filing system at Staples and our files are almost cute enough to be on display! I put them in a magazine holder which is way more compact than a filing cabinet.

Martha Stewart Vertical Files

The Konmari method is so addictive; I couldn’t stop! I stayed up until 7:00 am fully intent on finishing going through all of our paper. I was entirely exhausted on Sunday… but I did get to stay up just until the snow/ice started falling in Dallas! Now the snow has all melted, but it might be back on Wednesday.

Snow in Dallas Feb 2015The city didn’t salt the roads so my husband didn’t go to work. We spent the day inside, eating a pancake breakfast, playing with my daughter, and getting together a bunch of clothes to donate. Having him home was such a treat!

Rainbow Playroom

My husband and I have been browing houses which is a sort of far away dream of ours, but while doing so I’ve begun dreaming up playroom ideas. Here is an awesome collection for a rainbow-themed playroom.

Rainbow PlayroomThe goods:

1. Cloud & Kite Mobile, etsy

2. Tot & Tutors Plastic Table and Chairs, Wayfair

3. Paint the back of a bookshelf rainbow colors. Tutorial here, in French, but it is pretty straight forward. I bet this would be an easy DIY with an IKEA bookshelf

4. Sheepskin Cloud Wool Rug, RH baby & child

5. Rainbow Raindrop Lampshade, etsy Austrailia

6. Paris, je t’aime: Print, etsy

I adore the idea of a rainbow playroom! I can’t wait until we have an actual house so that I can play around with design. What is essential in your playrooms?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Busy Weekend

Chinese New Year

Today, I am meeting up with an amazing friend of mine for brunch at The Dream Café in Addison. It’s a quirky little diner that is dog-friendly and used to have a playground for the kids. I wish they stil had the playground but I’m really looking forward to the Cloud Cakes: ricotta cheese pancakes which just sound amazing.

Although we were initially planning to go to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science this weekend to solve the Sherlock Holmes mystery, instead we are going to spend this Sunday at the Chinese New Year Celebration at the Soka Gakkai International Center. I am really excited because this is the year of the sheep (ram) and I adore sheep! Secondly, my husband and I had our first date on Chinese New Year so the day always brings back nostalgia.

Our first date was very informal–we met up at our university mall and suddenly the Chinese New Year celebration happened upon us. As the sun set, the Vietnamese Culture Club lit sparklers and as the beating of drums filled the air there were suddenly these awesome lion dancers. They passed out these cute lanterns and the evening finished with delicious egg rolls. The best part of our evening was just laughing together and taking really terrible pictures of each other on my Blackberry.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend! Pictures and a recount of events to come on Monday night.

What are you doing this weekend?

 

 

Konmari Folding

When it comes to decluttering my husband and I have always fallen on opposite sides of the spectrum. He wants to keep nothing and I used to keep nearly everything. However, following the philosophy of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing changed my perspective! 

You certainly should read the book yourself to get the full scoop but these are the main principles

  1. Collect all itmes of one category together
  2. Touch every single item and ask “does this spark joy”
  3. Keep the joyful items. Dispose/Donate the joy-less items

When we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future

She recommends starting with clothes, then doing books, then small items around the house, and lastly sentimental items because by the time you finish the process your joy-meter is finely tuned and can properly attack those memories. Most important is not to go room-by-room but rather by categories of items. She also suggests repurposing items around the house to help you organize. I was able to use a pastry box to hold up my newly folded socks!

Once you read the book you will discover she is a huge fan of storing items verticially, including clothes. One of the best things about her technique is her vertical folding which allows each item of clothing to stand on its end. The massive increase in storage space in your drawers is wonderful and everything looks truly fantastic filed away.

Here are is an ankle sock folding tutorial I made to instruct you in the proper Konmari technique!

konmari soffe shorts copyKonmari Ankle Sock Folding

 

If you want to know how to Konmari fold onesies or a hoodie, look here.

I’ve been quite pleased with the results in my own drawers. I actually like finding clothes to wear now.

Konmari folded pants and shorts

The best part of this whole process is that I have permission to keep things, but I have also found a way to release the guilt that kept me from getting rid of things. This weekend, for example, I was repotting my plants and I accidentally broke the new pot’s tray when I was setting it up. The old me would have felt incredibly guilty and kept it until I could I find a way to rig it up so it wouldn’t leak. The new me, post-Konmari, realized that these things simply happen and I can throw away the broken one and buy a new one later when I really need it.

In her book, Marie talks about how one way of decluttering is by giving your things to someone else. This can burden someone if they feel obligated to take your things so they don’t end up in a landfill. To avoid this, I try to give away my things on freecycle.org. If they generate no interest (such as a bag of plastic hangers) then I throw them away. If no one seems to want them, but they have some value, I schedule a Salvation Army pickup once I have a large load.

Less stress, more joy!

More folding tutorials are to come, if you want to know how to fold the Konmari way, ask below and I will make a tutorial just for you!