Cooking Up Some Family Fun

We have always enjoyed being in the kitchen together as a family. From a very young age the kids have helped plan and prepare meals. Now that they are older they have become quite enamored with cooking competitions. In large part this stems from spending way too many nights in hotel rooms this past fall where they delighted in watching The Food Network. Their favorite show is the Holiday Baking Championship, but they also enjoy Cupcake Wars, Chopped, and Top Chef.

Kids in the kitchen equals a lot of crazy fun!

So, they were beyond excited this past Christmas when Santa Claus set us up with our very own family cooking competition – Team Asian Fusion versus Team Mediterranean. This past Monday was the perfect day for the competition as we dawned our aprons and entered the kitchen ready to whip up some amazing dishes.

This judge means business.

The rules for the competition were pretty straight forward. Prepare an appetizer, main course, and dessert using the five ingredients that Santa left. In addition our esteemed judge gave us each a “special” ingredient that we had to incorporate. High Five is a very skilled food judge and critic making us all work hard to impress not only his sense of taste, but also his attention to plating details.

Team Asian Fusion

In the end the two teams were evenly matched and we all left the competition feeling exhausted and quite full. Everyone gained a new appreciation off how hard it is to prepare a three course meal in a set amount of time. High Five has more cooking competitions in the works and we all look forward to increasing our skills in an effort to impress his refined tastes:)

Team Mediterranean

Team Asian Fusion: Five Spice and Five Ball
Must Use Ingredients: Forbidden Rice, Kelp, Brown Rice Noodles, Sweet Chili Sauce, Chinese Five Spice
“Special” Ingredient: Sunflower Seed Butter
Appetizer: Sweet Potato and Kale Pot Stickers
Entree: Forbidden Rice Stir-fry with Vegetables
Dessert: Chinese Five Spice Cake with Orange Coconut Cream Frosting

Team Mediterranean: Five String and Five of Hearts
Must Use Ingredients: Orzo, Artichokes, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Fire Roasted Tomatoes, and Garbanzo Bean Flour
“Special” Ingredient: Popcorn
Appetizer: Garbanzo Bean Foccacia with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Artichoke Dip
Entree: Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes
Dessert: Fig Bars with Lemon Frosting

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Elegantly Eleven

Five of Heart’s turned eleven yesterday, but chose to celebrate her birthday today. This year she decided she wanted to get dressed up and visit one of the many wonderful restaurants in Portland. The first part of her birthday present came earlier last week when we paid a special visit to our local thrift store to search through the eclectic collection of clothes, shoes, and accessories for a fabulous new outfit. She ended up leaving the store with enough clothes for several outfits (thrift store prices are the best!) plus one extra fancy ensemble for her special day.

Five of Hearts then spent several hours doing research online to select the perfect birthday restaurant. With so many vegan friendly restaurants in the area it was a daunting task (they all sound so good). However, after reading hundreds of reviews and perusing several menus Five of Hearts selected KaTi Portland.

It turns out that all that research paid off big time as we had a fabulous lunch at KaTi Portland. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was amazing. Five of Hearts ordered her first curry and handled the spicy flavor like a champ.

After enjoying some of the best Thai food that we have had in years we headed to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to check out the Gingerbread Adventures exhibit. Like seasoned food judges we had a blast viewing the five gigantic gingerbread sculptures with a critical eye and then voting on our favorite.

After a delicious outing it was time to return home for our turn at making food magic. We watched Vegan Cupcake Wars and then made vegan coconut raspberry cupcakes with coconut whipped frosting. Five of Hearts paired the cupcakes with one of her favorite movies, Trolls, and we ended the day dancing and feeling like “the world is all cupcakes and rainbows”.

Let It Snow!

When we moved from Montana to Vancouver, WA we warned the kids that we would not be having a “white” Christmas this year. After a very snowy winter in Montana last year we wanted to prepare them for a rainy winter in the Northwest. The kids just laughed and assured us that it would snow for Christmas. They were sure of it. So, early this morning when the snow started to fall it was no surprise for them. As the flakes continued to fall throughout the day they enjoyed their time out in the snow as well as the satisfaction of proving mom and dad wrong.