Mar 31, 2013

Foodie Pen Pal - March


This is my fifth time participating in the program. I'm loving how I can try new foods from around the United States.

This time I bought for Nichole who lives in New Jersey and works in Manhattan, a place known for incredible food. Since she doesn't have a blog, she wrote a little blurb for me to post here.
What a great box! I received some wonderful teas which should be very relaxing and refreshing as well as some delicious local coffee. I also received my favorite snack, apples and peanut butter, the peanut butter came in handy dandy travel form. I will certainly be enjoying my chocolate/peanut butter hybrid spread which is absolutely delicious and has been hidden from me for way too long. It's delicious and I plan on putting it on just about everything. Also, kindly and thoughtful enough, included was a magnet and a small history on Ohio.

Caitlin who lives in Washington, D.C. sent me my box. She had it ready for mail pick up before leaving for a trip but it wasn't picked up. So she repackaged everything and sent it overnight. The barbecue sauce did not make it so I used a towel to wipe off the items in the box. Even with those two setbacks I loved my box. Everything was very much appreciated.

IMG_1752The items that did survive the trip.

IMG_1754She was extremely thoughtful and had looked at the blog. She saw that one of the boys (the Wee One) loves fruit snacks so she sent some that all natural with no high fructose corn syrup. He absolutely loved them. His first comment was "They have a dot com." Only my boy!IMG_1753

This pink salt came with a lot of discussion with my family. One reason it's pink is because of the iron content. So Hubby decided he needed to take some and experiment on it to see if it was magnetic or not. Of course the conclusion was that it was not magnetic. The Wee One loves salt so he enjoyed tasting it even though it was pink.

IMG_1758IMG_1767IMG_1769She also sent me an Irish soda bread mix. Since I was sick over St. Paddy's Day, we hadn't had our special Irish dinner yet. We had in on the 23rd instead. I did not want to use all of the mix right away so I decided to make the biscuits instead. We enjoy biscuits more than bread. Caitlin suggested putting either raisins, currents, orange zest, or certain herbs in the dough. I opted for the orange zest. The whole family enjoyed them!



I love granola and cinnamon so this was perfect for me. I've eaten it for breakfast with my vanilla coconut almond milk (a rarity because I don't like milk on my cereal). The walnuts were huge! Yum!

I ate up all of the bag she sent me and found a place an hour and a half away that sold the granola.  The place is near my favorite zoo so we took a side trip there when we went to the zoo last week.  I bought myself some more bags of the granola.

IMG_1757Pistachio cardamon shortbread with the recipe. It is absolutely delicious! I'm enjoying it one piece at a time.

Thank you so much Caitlin for this delicious box of goodies.

Mar 25, 2013

Potato Wedges

The Imaginative One loves French fries.  He is the biggest French fry stealer so when I made these and he kept trying to take wedges from various family members, I knew this was a hit!  They were so crispy which is the way I love them.  I ate them without any condiments because they were that good!


Potato Wedges

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 russet potatoes, cut into wedges

  • 1 egg white

  • spices to taste - I used seasoning salt, black pepper, and Himalayan pink salt.


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  

  2. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

  3. In a med. bowl, whisk together spices and egg white.

  4. Dredge the potato wedges in the egg white - spice mixture.  Coating all of the wedges.

  5. Place on cooking sheet.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the wedges over.

  7. Bake for another 15 minutes.

  8. Enjoy with your favorite condiments!


Mar 7, 2013

Skinnier "Shamrock" Shake

Oh my goodness, I found a recipe that made the Shamrock shake healthier with fewer calories. It's full of good fats.

One of the ingredients might surprise you. It gives you the green coloring without food dye.

Now when the boys have their Homemade "Shamrock" shake, I can have this instead. Yeah!

Oh, it's also husband approved.

Skinnier "Shamrock" Shake
Skinny Taste


Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. avocado

  • 1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. low fat frozen vanilla yogurt

  • 1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. nonfat milk

  • 1/2 Tbsp. Truvia or Stevia

  • 1 tsp. mint or peppermint extract

  • 1/2 c.crushed ice


  1. Put ice in the blender. Crush it.

  2. Add the other ingredients to the blender.

  3. Blend it until all the ingredients are incorporated.

  4. Enjoy!



Mar 6, 2013

What I'm Thankful For - Last 10

11.  Hubby - He's been such a brave soul trying the new foods I've been cooking.  A lot of them, he's actually liked :)  Yeah!

12.  My favorite book series - Leslie Meier's Lucy Stone series, Joanna Fluke's Hannah Swenson series - I love visiting my "friends" and catching up with them.

13.  Spring is almost here!  It's a time of rebirth and renewal.  

14.  My family - They are very important to me.

15.  Foodie Pen Pals - I've done it in October, November, January, and February.  I love shopping for a new person and trying to figure out their likes and dislikes.  Then I get my package in the mail and I get to try new foods from different places in the US.  Okay my last one was from five minutes from the house.  This month the person who is sending me my box is from further away so that's exciting.

16.  Going to the beach this summer - I love Charleston, SC.  We finally made a commitment to go to the beach.  Yeah!  I get to eat at my favorite restaurant there.  The boys are going to get to go to Piggly Wiggly.  They want to dump sand on grandpa down there.  We are going to Charlottesville, VA either on the way down or the way back.  

17.  the zoo - I love going there.  

18.  Coffee - Enough said there!

19.  Chocolate

20.  Being a teacher - There is nothing more fulfilling as teaching especially when the students have learned something new and are excited about it.

What I'm Thankful For - First 10

One of my challenges for Healthy Self is to make a list of 20 things you are thankful for.  It was suppose to be done on Monday.  Monday was such a crazy day for me so I didn't get it done.  Yesterday I was just LAZY plus because of the changes in the atmosphere - AKA snow coming in - my head was bothering me.

So today I'm going to make my list:

1.  Snow day - I'm suppose to be testing today so this does stress me out some.  However I got almost half done on Monday because I knew this was a possibility.  Go me because these tests are L-O-N-G and one on one with the student.  

2.  The Imaginative One - He always gives me a run for my money with his random knowledge.  He loves to learn but doesn't like to test (discussion in car the other day).  

3.  The Wee One - He had a music program on Monday night.  If he had a chance, he could have directed that program.  He was on top of the whole production.  There is a special needs student who visits his classroom.  He is so gentle and caring with the little boy.  During the production, he allowed the boy to play with his tie because he knew that the little boy needed that.  He also loves to learn.

4.  Losing 15.5 pounds in 2 months - On Monday, a retired teacher subbed in my room so I could test.  She hadn't seen me since either September or October.  One of the first things out of her mouth was "You lost weight."  Made me feel good that someone noticed my effort.  I'm down 2 pants sizes!!!!!  

5.  Learning to eat new foods - I never in a million years would have thought I would have loved eating shepherd's pie made with sweet potato/cauliflower mash on the top.  I was absolutely delicious!  I also never thought I would make double chocolate chip muffins with avocados.  Actually I would never have thought I would eat avocados.

6.  Cuddles with the dog when he's not sensitive to weather (shakes and won't leave me alone)

7.  Cuddles with the Wee One 

8.  The Imaginative One showing affection or appreciation towards me - These moments are fleeting but appreciated.

 9.  Being able to cook healthy foods for my family - I constantly tell the boys how lucky they are their mom cooks them dinner.

10.  Photography - I love looking at nature in a different way when I'm taking photographs.  Nature is cool!  I also love taking pictures of the boys growing up.  I have a few pictures of my childhood.  I really wish I had more.  My memories are visual in nature and I really wish I had the picture to go with my memories so I could share them with the boys.  

Mar 5, 2013

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

My absolutely favorite muffins are double chocolate chip muffins. When they bring in muffins to work, I gravitate to the double chocolate chip muffins. Usually they have a million bazillion calories in it though. I found a way to have my favorite muffin and still feel good about eating it.

The cool thing about these muffins are there is no eggs in them. You can lick the bowl clean without any worries about getting sick.

There are also surprise ingredients in it. If you didn't tell anyone, they wouldn't know it.

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 2 ripe bananas

  • 3/4 c. Sugar or 3/8 c. Truvia baking blend

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

  • 1/4 c. Light olive oil

  • 1 c. all purpose flour

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour

  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder

  • 1/2 c. Chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers (12) or spray with cooking spray.

  3. In a mixing bowl, blend banana and avocado until puréed.

  4. Add sugar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix well.

  5. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

  6. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.

  7. Fold in chocolate chips.

  8. Spoon mixture into tins or cupcake wrappers. (WARNING: The mixture will be thick.)

  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.

  10. Enjoy!

Mar 4, 2013

What's For Dinner? - Week of March 4

This week's going to be CRAZY! I'm staying after work 3 days this week to get things completed. Friday I'm attending a workshop after school. On Saturday I'm also attending the same workshop.

On Monday and Wednesday, I'm testing students all day long! So this week's going to be stressful between testing, staying after school, and attending the workshop. I prepped food and froze it so we will eat but my plans may fall by the wayside.


Homemade Egg McMuffins

Pecan Oatmeal

Chocolate avocado muffins


Leftover Hot head burritos

Sweet potato shepherds pie

Chicken pasta with pea pesto

Maple chicken

Soup out of freezer


Sweet potato shepherds pie

Chicken pasta with pea pesto

Maple chicken

Something from freezer

Eat whatever you want night

Steak and baked potatoes

Mar 3, 2013

My Aunt Janet's Pecan cookies

The other night, the Wee One handed me a box and asked me what was in it. As I looked through it, I found blank cards and recipe cards. The treasure was two recipe cards written by my grandma. She died Christmas Eve of '08 so it was nice to see her handwriting one more time.

My aunt Janet was actually my grandpa's sister so technically she was my great aunt. I still called her aunt without the great. We spent a lot of time with her. She and my Uncle Mitch had a farm that had willow trees and a pond. I remember going up to the farm for family gatherings 

and walking around the pond.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 and within less than a week had passed away. My whole family misses her.

Pecan Cookies

aunt janet recipe20130303-125522.jpg

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 C. shortening, margarine, or butter

  • 2 1/2 c. brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 2 1/2 C. flour

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 C. pecans


  1. Cream shortening, margarine, or butter with the sugar.

  2. Add eggs and beat well.

  3. Add flour, salt, and soda. Mix well.

  4. Fold in nuts.

  5. Drop from spoon onto greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

  7. Cool for about 1 minute and then remove to wire racks to completely cool.

  8. Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container.

Mar 2, 2013

St. Patty's Smoothie

Yum! And heathy are 2 words to describe this smoothie.  Since I was going to be making the boys homemade "Shamrock" shakes, I made myself one of these instead. 

This is another easy recipe to put together.  This recipe makes four servings.  I put the other three servings in the freezer so I can enjoy them later.  (They are already portioned out so all I have to do is pull it out of the freezer, thaw it out, pour it into a cup, and then enjoy.)

St. Patty's Smoothie

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1.5 c. of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • 2 bananas

  • 1 cup spinach

  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips


  1. Place all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips in the blender.

  2. Blend until smoothie.

  3. Add the chocolate chips.

  4. Blend until the chips have been combined.

  5. Pour a fourth of it in a cup.  Divide the rest into 3 quart sized bags that have been labeled.  Place those 3 bags in the freezer for later.

  6. Enjoy the smoothie in the cup!

Homemade "shamrock" shakes

Last week, I took the boys to McDonalds so they could try the Shamrock shake. Both of them loved it! This week I decided to make my own version. Ice cream was on sale for a pint. Can't beat a dollar for a pint!

It's so simple to make. Just put the ingredients in the blender and blend away.

Oh and while they were enjoying their treat, I was enjoying my St. Patty's smoothie. Recipe to come later.

20130302-191316.jpg Anticipating his first taste

Homemade "shamrock" shake

Stars of the recipe:

  •  1 pint of vanilla ice cream

  • 3-4 drops of green food coloring

  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract

  • 1/2 c. Milk (more or less depending on preference)


  1. Place all ingredients in the blender.

  2. Blend away.

  3. Enjoy!

The Imaginative One says it would be better with whipped cream.

Oh, this recipe makes 2 shakes or one big one.