September Foodie Pen Pal Reveal!

I’m getting better with my timing! Only one day behind 🙂  well, I was only one day behind when I started putting this post together… oops…

This month I received my package from Christine from New Jersey, she blogs over at ChristinesQuietSpot, She’s newer to blogging and makes THE most adorable cards! I was lucky enough to get one- right on the fridge it went!

photo 1.JPG I got home to see this waiting for me to open it. Evan was almost as excited as I was!

What better way to put her card on the fridge than with a New Jersey magnet!

I told you it was a cute card!

Christine also sent me some recipes, along with some of the ingredients.

   I’ve never seen whole Nutmeg before, now I need a little spice grinder thingy!

Red Lentils- Something else I’ve never eaten, let alone cooked!
I ended up making some with spaghetti and a homemade red sauce with some cheese and it was pretty easy and tasty!

Cannot wait to try this!  It sounds yummy!

Eric’s became a little more interested in the box when he saw these peach jalapeno preserves, we still haven’t tried it yet- but I have some pork chops that need cooking this week.

I LOVE this blueberry spread, it and the jalapeno peach preserves are from her area- how cool that Christine took the time to find me something local 🙂

     I think the chocolate may be local too, considering the name and all.

THESE COOKIES ARE AMAZING! Not overly sweet or lemony, just perfect! A must have, Christine suggested eating them with ice cream, I’ll have to try it next time I buy some ice cream.

The other favorite of the package was the coconut chips from Trader Joe’s.  O M G… No words for them, crunchy, sweet and savory, mmm. Of course I can’t find the picture of the bag, but it’s ok because they are still delicious.

I sent my September package to Karen over at Read: Cook: Live. Karen is a high school teacher in Brooklyn, NY ( which proved to be a somewhat irritating shipping/receiving experience!) I love how she cooks things inspired by what she’s reading for her blog, it makes me want to be more adventurous in my cooking!

Interested in Foodie Pen Pals?  Check out the Foodie Pen Pal page over at The Lean Green Bean

FPP post Foodie Penpals

The Happy Little Chickens… (that made happy little tummies)

Over the past few months I have been getting some free range/GMO free chickens from a local farm, I really can’t say enough wonderful things about it- I’m helping support a family that is doing something they love, the chicken tastes SO much better than what you get at the grocery (even if it is ‘free range/organic’),  I know that it is healthier for my family, the list goes on and on…

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is to get several meals out of one chicken in less than an hour (not including cooking time) ?!

FIRST OFF:

Slice up an onion (I used a sweet onion) and lay it on the bottom of your crockpot- Don’t bother adding any water or anything…

I used the seasonings I had in my cabinets and kind of threw them all together in a small container- this is what I used (kind of from most to least… maybe… just get it all in there it will be fine…promise!)
Paprika
Garlic powder
Oregano
Tony’s
Thyme
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper/Salt
Mix it all up and spread it on the skin- if you’re up to it get it up under the skin too, and for good measure, stuff some butter in there too…

Into the crock pot it goes… I don’t know if this is standard procedure or not, I always turn it on HIGH for the first hour, then turn it to LOW for the rest of the time. I determine done-ness  by the whole house smelling delicious, the chicken falling apart when you touch it with a fork, and if you still aren’t satisfied  a meat thermometer (this particular chicken was in for about 8 hours on low- you can’t see it but we lost a wing on the trip to the plate…).

NEXT STEP:

Once you have de-potted the chicken (is that a term?) let it cool down enough to handle, or just be tough and use forks to do it. Don’t throw out the juiciness left in the pot, you’ll need that to make chicken broth- that’s right,  I said you’ll make chicken broth… Play it cool, it really isn’t as bad as you may think.  SO. Onward. Pick all that yummy meat off the chicken and put it on a plate or in a container, it’s up to you, just get it off the bird and somewhere else (away from dogs, that’s probably a pretty smart thing to do with juicy freshly cooked chicken…).
Once you have just the carcass and the skin remaining put it back in the pot (I would think you could use cheesecloth or something to keep the bones tidy and easy to remove, but haven’t tried it yet). Chop up whatever stewing veggies you may have- I added garlic, carrots, celery, and a red onion.  Once you get all your veggies in, start adding water (filtered water would be ideal- for flavor and health aspects… but that’s a whole other story!)
I added enough water so there was only a small portion of the carcass showing, it kind of looked like the headless chicken was soaking in a tub.
Leave your crock pot on LOW for another 6-8 hours, then pour everything through a strainer and into a container for storage.
I personally didn’t save the veggies, they were overly mushy cooked, now that I’m thinking about it they probably would have been perfect not-so-baby food… Crap… Next time.

NEXT NEXT STEP:
Make you meals of choice! I made some green beans that we ate with the chicken right away (we’ve been avoiding potatoes or they would have been included!).

Later that night, I threw a can of rinsed black beans into a skillet with a little olive oil, more of the seasoning mix that was rubbed on the chicken(but added some chili powder and cumin), shredded up a big handful of chicken, mixed it in with the beans and add a little of  the broth to keep everything from sticking- and to give it that nice sauciness. Serve it with rice and cheese, you can add some corn if you like (I like), make burritos, put it on a salad, eat it with chips, the possibilities are endless- and it’s hard to mess it up (I follow a similar method to make red beans and rice, I think I use different seasonings every time, but it’s always good!)

This is such an easy, go to left over and has so much flavor thanks to that happy little chicken and it’s broth.

And I still have plenty of chicken left to make a few more meals out of, and I have broth that’s going to last a while- Despite the fact that Ethan climbed into the refrigerator and dumped half a container on himself… He and the dogs were elated when they realized it was food and not just something cold and goopy!

Want to know a little more about where I got my chickens at? Full of Graze is the name of the farm located in Xenia, Ohio. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you check them out! They offer chicken, eggs, pork, and turkeys.  See their blog to learn more about them!

Out of the area and interested in finding a local farm to buy from? Check out Local Harvest, you can search for local farms, restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers markets that sell local produce and meats. You’d be surprised how many there are!

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal! (August)

Well it’s been busy around here- which caused a little delay in getting my Foodie Pen Pal reveal post together, but here it is all the same!

This month I was lucky enough to receive my package from Ashley, it had some really great stuff in it that I’m going to have to keep around my house now, luckily I have a Trader Joe’s nearby- which I obviously don’t frequent enough!

The first thing to greet me when I opened the box was a little note from Ashley describing the goodies she sent to me (I didn’t get a picture of the card but it was pretty!)

I am in love with this Valencia peanut butter with roasted flaxseed which is perfect to satisfy that sweet/salty craving when you put it on banana, or even on a sandwich with blueberry jelly. Not enough yum to describe it! And those little roasted flaxseeds give it an extra factor of deliciousness!

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Of course one of my favorite parts of the box was the virgin coconut oil, I seriously use this stuff in pretty much everything, the secret is after you use the spoonful for cooking wipe off the rest and use it on your skin- smells amazing and no chemicals or anything that you find in lotion, skin can’t get any softer. Another favorite way to use it- put a little in a pan to stove pop popcorn, it turns out sweet like kettle corn with a tiny hint of coconut flavor… Mmmm…

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There was some whole wheat pasta and cheesy tortellini which I cooked up with some butter, olive oil, and parmesan then topped it with zucchini and mushrooms- amazing!

I was excited to get the Trader Joe’s Spiced Chai mix- it is delicious, I don’t know what it’s called when you mix chai with coffee and almond milk but it’s amazing 🙂

I got to send my package to Jennifer who has a blog of her own, so I won’t post any spoilers here about what I sent her. Other than the fact that I am getting a post card sent out to her this week for her classroom!

So what is Foodie Pen Pals?
Lindsay over at  The Lean Green Bean has taken the time to put together an amazing program where bloggers and blog readers get paired with someone different each month to send a $15 box of foodie goodies to, and you get paired with someone different to receive a box from  For a more detailed explanation of the program check out the Foodie Pen Pal page at The Lean Green Bean

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day! (July)

– I want to apologize in advance for my links being a little messed up (don’t have the icon) but today my phone not being cooperative!-

Today is reveal day for Foodie Pen Pals! I know that by my standard of Ohio time I am a little late on getting this up, but considering I spent the majority of my day on planes and in airports starting off a family vacation in California, I think I can be excused 🙂
More on the trip later- this is about the great box of goodies I received from my July pen pal Emma!
Emma isn’t a blogger but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her stuff! When she asked what type of things I liked I told her that I basically try to stay healthy, loved coconut and Tony’s Creole seasoning… I open my box and got some pretty great surprises 🙂

20120731-230750.jpg a couple of Clif bars that were really good (I’ve never had one before!- I know it’s crazy…)

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a big bag of yogurt raisins (I think Evan was even more excited at this point, because that is one of his favorite treats)

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Emma has also helped me restock on my Tony’s which I was almost out of since it goes on everything I make
<img src="https://caitlinmomma.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/20120731-231157.jpg" alt="20120731-231157.jpg" –
and there was a 13 bean soup mix, I still need to make it, I've never attempted a bean soup before but have actually thought about it before this package arrived!

20120731-231213.jpgThe last thing I got to was a heavy wrapped item- I couldn’t even guess what it might be since Emma had asked about my interest in Tennessee local items… I had absolutely no idea what would be inside…
I open it and it’s a coconut curry sauce- something else I’ve been thinking about trying but never had the courage to! I can’t wait to get home from vacation and make something amazing with it- speaking of that, I’m open for suggestions on recipes or ideas on curries or sides or anything for that type of meal!

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Thank you Emma for a wonderful box of goodies!

Want to know more about Foodie Pen Pals?! Check out my previous blog post about it or just click this nice little link here

Wondering about what I sent to my pen pal Lisa in Utah this month? Since she also does not have her own blog she was kind enough to write a little bit about what she got from me 🙂

“This was my very first time participating in Foodie Pen Pals and it was so much fun! I enjoyed both the sending and receiving and am so happy that I discovered this little gem of the “blogging world”.
I myself am not a blogger but often find myself stumbling upon them when surfing the Internet (enter Foodie Pen Pals). Caitlin has asked me to write a short response to what she sent me and she did such a good job, that of course I said yes!
When I opened my box I was greeted with a can of tuna. This was hilarious! When we first made contact via email I told her the one thing I am not a fan of when it comes to food is fish, but doubted if that could be sent in a box. She showed me! I am now the proud owner of a little can of tuna and a note saying she hopes I have a cat to “enjoy the fishiness”. So funny!
As I continued to sift through the goodies I found many hand written notes along the way. This was the best part! It added such a personal touch and made me very happy. Speaking of being happy: I LOVE PEANUT BUTTER! When I picked up a container of white chocolate peanut butter I about died! It has been so delicious and I have enjoyed every bite of it!
A close second to the peanut butter was a single sugar cookie. It doesn’t seem like much but attached was a note stating that it was from a bakery Caitlin often stopped at on her way to math tutoring for some inspiration. I myself have struggled with math my entire life and loved having a little bitef of something that helped a fellow “math struggle-er” along her way.
All in all this was so much fun and is something that I want to continue doing for a long long time!
Thanks again, Caitlin!”

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Busy Weeks…

Where is the summer going??? It literally feels like my birthday was just a week ago and I posted on here… It’s been almost a month- I need to find a better system to keep up with posting, tell me what has worked for you when it comes to keeping up with something or staying focused/organized!

Almost two weeks ago now, Eric my hubby and I were part of the MuckRuckus MS in Troy, OH. Having never done any type of an organized run, let alone a 5K with mud and obstacles, we were more than a little nervous… His sister had talked us in to signing up months ago, we had all these great intentions of training and preparing… That went well for about 2 weeks 🙂
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The day of the run came, we were up early making the 45 minute drive to Fulton Farms where the run was being held- go figure, we missed the exit… Then we got stuck by a train that was stopped on the tracks… Not a good start to a morning where everyone in the car was already on edge! It was a hot and muggy morning and we were [thankfully] signed up for the first start time at 9:00am.

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We had no idea what we were in for… I had looked at pictures of mud runs and wasn’t overly nervous about the obstacles, mainly the running. It wasn’t that bad- granted I walked most of it with my sis-in-law… I still managed to hurt my toe to the point where I’m in the process of losing the nail 😦 Note to self: Do not wear tight shoes to run in, especially when you will be jumping off obstacles and slamming your toes into the shoe… It leads to your Doc wanting to drill through the top of your toenail a week later to relieve the pressure from the blood type blister that has developed under there from the aforementioned slamming… Ultimately relieving the painful pressure, which is a plus…
Anyway- The good part of the story is that we all finished the run (Eric came in 4th of the 5k runners!), we got a t-shirt, food, and 2 tall beers once we were done 🙂 Great experience for our first 5k!

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There is another local 5k this Saturday morning that I just found out about the other day, I think we may try to do that also- I may not, we will see what my toe thinks about the treadmill before I make any decisions.

My First Foodie Pen Pal!

Ok- Pretty cool thing. Blogger Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean started something called Foodie Pen Pals where bloggers and readers can sign up to be paired with other bloggers/readers to receive and send a box with up to $15 worth of foodie goodies for your new friend to try, then at the end of the month you get to write a blog post about it or a guest post for the blog of your pen pal. How cool is that? I love it when people have such innovative ideas to get people connected.



Told you it was pretty cool!

Bureau of Motor Vehicles… Good Times!

Well, I had to get my new driver’s license before it expires on Sunday (my luck would be that I would end up having to retake the written & driving test ! -how horrible would that be?!)

Anyway- I always have a pleasant experience at the local BMV, always the same women working (at either of the two locations we go to) and they are always SO nice and helpful, I’ve never waited more than 20 minutes for anything, never dealt with staff getting irritable at people- It’s amazing compared to the images you always get of the BMV!

20 minutes and I had a new license (with new picture-not so exciting!), tags for both of my cars, vision test done, and a document notarized. I’d call that a WIN!  I think a lot of it how you see things, because I hardly ever have bad experiences lol

**absurd driving laws in Ohio**

-The Ohio driver’s education manual states that you must honk the horn whenever you pass another car. That could get old REALLY  fast! Sadly, I remember this from when I was in drivers ed and have done it before on a country road…

– [Fairview Park] It’s against the law to honk your horn “excessively”. Better watch how much passing you’re doing when you’re there!

– [Oxford] Horn honking is not permitted as it might scare horses.  Forget passing altogether better just drive in reverse- it isn’t passing then is it?

– [City of Canton] Power Wheels cars may not be driven down the street. umm, common sense?

SEE… I said I would keep up on posting! Even though I didn’t have time to really write about anything that interesting or worthwhile, I feel a lot better knowing that I got something on here 🙂 there may be more completely random posts in between the more put together ones.

By the way… I signed up to be a Foodie Penpal, and I’m really excited about it! Such a cool idea! Check it out here- http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/  While you’re there take some reading time too, there are some great posts!


					

Time sure flies…

Is it just me? Or does it seem like time is going a lot faster lately?
I feel like I was home on maternity leave last week and Christmas was the other day… and now, now it’s the middle of June! I have definitely been slacking on the blog, I’m a little disappointed about that- especially considering pretty much everyday I have a great idea for a post and I tell myself  ‘It’s bedtime/naptime/cleaning time- it can wait till later’ and I never get back around to it! Ooops! I’m going to try a little harder to keep up with it this time.

A lot has happened in my home since I posted last…
(sorry no pictures either, my camera is not getting along with the computer! ugh!)

*My little tiny baby Ethan is now walking with assistance, climbing onto things, getting sharp little teeth, etc. Not to mention he is a 9 month old wearing 12 month clothes and weighs 22lbs!

*My older son Evan (7), is now a 2nd grader and is on summer vacation… It’s been good so far, we have a lot of work to do on swimming though since someone managed to forget 3 years of lessons from the YMCA! He is also playing soccer (for the Y) and doing absolutely amazing (if-I-do-say-so-myself!)

* We had to put Remy, my (favorite-shh) dog to sleep after a herniated disc caused him to become paralyzed, that was the hardest couple of days- I still almost call his name when I’m getting the other dogs inside :/ I have a whole post to be dedicated to him (just have to type it, and have lots of tissues nearby while I do it…)

*Our healthy eating and living is going great! I wish I had pictures of how our fridge used to look to compare to how it looks now, almost everything is fresh, we have been losing weight still (we did add some homeopathic weight loss drops the past month- HCG free, and supports eating a healthy clean diet!) Eric, my hubby/partner in crime, has lost a ton of weight since we started all this in Febraury. I am in pants that I haven’t been able to wear in FOREVER without a muffin top lol. The most important thing is that we FEEL better!

Well I think that pretty much sums up the past few months lol…  I plan to post again soon- by soon I mean in the next several days this time!

Why of course I would like to save some money!

Well, before today I had never seriously considered buying organic baby formula. I honestly have no clue why, it just never crossed my mind!
My son has had Similac Advance since he has been on formula (from the time he was about 1 1/2 months old), we tried Gerber at one point and it didn’t seem to agree with his little tummy, so we went back to Similac Advance.

This morning I made our last bottle of what formula we had in the house and went on an adventure to the store. As I went to the baby aisle I found that Similac Organic was 1/2 price (?!), shocked, I asked one of the ladies working why it was discounted so heavily, turns out people around here don’t buy so much organic formula and they needed to get it off their shelves (!!??!!). Yay for me!

I did a quick google search on my phone to make sure there wasn’t anything crazy going on because I remembered hearing about arsenic in organic formulas recently (this was from brown rice syrup concentrate being used as a sweetener). Turns out, Similac Organic is made with evaporated cane juice, which has also caused some upset. I found several articles and community boards where people were expressing a concern that the use of cane sugar would lead to childhood obesity. It got me wondering,

1- how many of the current obese children were given formula sweetened with cane juice?

2- If this is a more naturally occurring sweetener than the other sweeteners used (usually lactose, corn syrup, rice starch,etc- depending on the brand) why is eating naturally sweet fruits not a concern for increasing risk of obesity?

3- Supposedly, over consumption of cane sugar can lead to type II diabetes and obesity… Crazy right? Not really, over consumption of any sugar can cause type II diabetes and obesity (COME ON PEOPLE!). In our society today we consume a ridiculous amount of sugar (confirmed by the USDA as seen in the table below). So if we are consuming roughly 40% more sugar now compared to 50 years ago, why are people singling out cane sugar in baby formula as causing a problem? Couldn’t it be our eating habits as a whole society and what we are teaching our children that is really the problem?

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I also saw some comments regarding the fact that infants and toddlers who are given formula sweetened with cane sugar, may start refusing to eat solids and refuse regular formulas. Don’t most kids love sweet stuff? I know my 7 year old would eat candy till his head exploded if I let him! Don’t we have the responsibility as parents to teach our kids to eat healthy and balanced diets? We can’t expect some research facility to decide what is best for our families, we need to take some time ourselves to learn about solutions to our problems, and make an educated decision based on that.

I wanted to add a little more about the differences between organic baby formula and non-organic.
Organic formula’s are made with organic ingredients (I know, a little obvious!), if it is labeled as USDA Certified Organic there are (supposedly) no pesticides, unnatural fertilizers, or GMO’s allowed into any part of the product.
Image Non-organic formula’s are allowed to have ingredients that have been treated with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and bio-engineered ingredients. Considering the possible health problems that have been associated with pesticides, synthetic pesticides, and GMO’s- I’m thinking it may be a good idea to just sacrifice the extra couple of dollars from now on to buy organic formula, why risk it with my little man right?

Here is a comparison of Similac Advance Organic to Similac Advance… Just in case anyone is interested 🙂 There is really no nutritional difference as far as what nutrients your baby will be getting from it!

Best Meatless Meatball EVER (if I do say so myself)

Here’s a great recipe that I was given to try. I was a little skeptical when I read the ingredients, but they turned out amazing!

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Walnut Meatballs With Apricot BBQ Sauce

[Makes about 10 servings]

1 1/4 C. Cracker crumbs
3/4 C. Ground walnuts
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Finely chopped small onion
1 1/2 tsp. Sage (I didn’t have this)
3/4 C. Grated colby cheese
2 Pressed garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. Minced parsley
4 Eggs

I used a combination of saltines and ritz crackers. I also added some paprika. I ended up using about 1/4 C. of onion. I threw everything in the food processor to mix well. Roll into walnut sized balls and put them into a casserole dish. Pour on apricot BBQ sauce before baking (covered) for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

-Apricot BBQ Sauce-

1/4 C. Oil
1/4 C. Vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 C. Apricot jam
1/2 C. Ketchup
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Grated onion
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Oregano
Dash of hot pepper sauce (I don’t like spicy- so this didn’t get added)

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to boil and reduce heat, mix well and pour over meatballs before baking.

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Took maybe 15 minutes to do everything up to putting it in the oven.
They honestly tasted like real meatballs! We had them with mashed potatoes and green beans- yum.
I wonder if they would be good with spaghetti, minus the apricot BBQ sauce of course 🙂

I know what I’m making for the next party or potluck I’m going to!

Posted in Yum