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!

20120908-012840.jpg

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…

20120908-013008.jpg

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…)

20120731-230956.jpg
a big bag of yogurt raisins (I think Evan was even more excited at this point, because that is one of his favorite treats)

20120731-231611.jpg

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!

20120731-231233.jpg

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!”

20120731-232123.jpg

20120731-232136.jpg

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!

20120227-225327.jpg

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.

20120227-232004.jpg

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

Juicy Realization

20120226-000015.jpg

Thursday night we started a juice fast. After watching ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’ we thought we would give it a try and see what benefits came from it for us. Luckily my mom had a great juicer in storage since she has her VitaMix now. We loaded up on fruits and veggies at the store, cleaned them all, and started making juicy concoctions. Most of them were actually pretty good! Friday we had a version of V8 with lots of tomato juice in it, I have always had a skin reaction to raw tomatoes (an itchy rash wherever they touched me), but I have never had any problem eating them as long as they didn’t touch my lips, and it was in small quantity. Well seeing as I was working a night shift on Friday I took a nap after drinking lunch, I guess I have a little more of a problem with raw tomatoes than I thought because I woke up feeling like my chest, shoulders, and face were badly sunburned (definitely not the case considering it is winter here in Ohio). I was red, hot, and itchy- not how I wanted to start my evening! After a couple of hours, some orange/mango/grapefruit juice, and lots of water it finally went away. Hurdle number one of juicing tackled. What did I learn? No more raw tomatoes for this momma.
I went into work feeling pretty good and drinking some more mixed fruit juice, minus my grogginess from a lack of coffee in my system, this was remedied quickly by the Rejuveniix (all natural energy supplement) that I have mentioned in a previous post. When it comes time for ‘dinner’ I got out my kale/carrot/spinach juice and diluted it, pretty tasty if you pretend you are eating a salad and not drinking it! Around 2:00 am I started getting a headache and body aches, my stomach started growling, so I got another large glass of my green juice, it helped a little. Out of no where everything went bad, my head was pounding, my body hurt like I had been going non-stop for days, I felt horrible. I know that this is all part of detoxing, I know that it would have gotten better, but I broke. I had to eat something so I grabbed my bag of frozen green beans that I left in the freezer weeks before and let my pain get the best of me, of course after eating I felt sick to my stomach so I ate two soda crackers to try and settle it a little, then lots and lots of water again. Around 5:00 am I was starting to feel a little better, but all the toxins in my body were still causing me pain.
I made it until 9:00 am on Saturday when I got home before I officially decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore (Eric had already decided this for himself while I was at work). At least not just juice for a while.
I definitely notice a difference, even from the short time I was doing it. I don’t feel as bloated, I’m craving more water instead of randomly eating, and my skin isn’t nearly as dry as it was before.
I think a juice fast is a great idea still, but I need to get used to it a little first.
So what did I take from my day and a half of juicing? Don’t jump straight into it, and make sure you have some down time for those first couple of days while you’re getting used to it.
I do plan to eventually do a 7-10 day juice fast, but not right now.
I am going to try a new product next month for detoxing and weight loss, it’s all natural of course. I’ll share more when I have all the details!

Have you tried a juice fast or detox before? What was your experience? What would you recommend? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

20120225-235933.jpg

One Thing I Cannot Live Without…

This is my weakness… No matter how many things I decide to take out of our pantry, Velveeta & Shells is one thing that will always be there (maybe). I know that I am disturbed by the fact that I don’t know of any cheese that comes in foil package naturally- but OMG, it just tastes so wonderful! No off brand or alternative can even compare in my opinion… Although I have had some homemade versions that are great in their own way.
Before posting this I decided I’d do a little research on this dinner staple that I keep in my home. What I found isn’t exactly helping me to justify buying it anymore!
Did you know that processed cheese foods (yes, Velveeta included) contain refined/hydrogenated oils? Eh, if you’ve looked at any packaging before you’ve probably noticed most things seem to anyway. What I  Didn’t know before was that these oils are known to cause diabetes- and are also linked to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), cancers, and auto immune diseases (EEK!). Before 1914 most cooking oils still contained animal fats, before companies transitioned to using complete vegetable oils, this means that people were still receiving at least some of their essential fatty acids (EFA’s are something that we as humans must obtain through diet, our body does not naturally create them) through the oils foods were being cooked in. In the years since 1914 the removal of EFA’s has become standard in order to extend the shelf life of products (Lovely, how they think things through huh?). EFA deficiency is quite common in the United States today, mainly Omega 3- but also Omega 6, these deficiencies are linked to pretty much every serious health problem that we see in people we know & love everyday, and so many people have never even heard of it!  To read into it a little more, this is where I got a lot of it, double checked of course 🙂 – or there is always Google.  I feel a lot better now about my hubby and I taking an Omega supplement. Knowing that the one we take is from high quality sources, from a company that promises to keep everything 100% safe/non-toxic, and GMO free, makes me feel even better. I’m really hoping that between the change in diet, exercise, and supplementation that Hubby can get off his blood pressure medicine and live a little better than we used to!
Maybe we will be finding an alternative to my favorite orangey-yellow box after all.