Foodie Pen Pals – April

Another month has come and gone. I had fun buying for Kristen and then receiving from Ashley. Kristen lives in Sonoma County, California. My boys and I went out and found some goodies that were from our area to send to her. Check out her blog to see what I got her.

Ashley lives in Indiana. She sent not only to me but also to my boys. The Wee One has declared I need to send a picture of him holding his goodies to my next pen pal because in the last 2 boxes he has gotten something yummy to eat. Whatever boy! Both of the gifts were well received by the boys.

All of the delicious goodies!
All of the delicious goodies!

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The Imaginative One's gift
The Imaginative One’s gift – He’s going to be going to a Mission to Mars camp this summer so this is perfect.
The Wee One's gift - One of his favorite treats!
The Wee One’s gift – One of his favorite treats! Sorry for the poor quality.
The Wee One holding his gifts. He so wanted me to get done taking the picture so he could eat one of them.
The Wee One holding his gifts. He so wanted me to get done taking the picture so he could eat one of them.
The Imaginative One checking out his gift.  As I was cooking dinner, he was writing in the details so it's ready for his camp.
The Imaginative One checking out his gift. As I was cooking dinner, he was writing in the details so it’s ready for his camp.
The card - It was handmade in her town.  I love giraffes so this is perfect.  It's hanging up in my classroom so I can smile whenever I see it.
The card – It was handmade in her town. I love giraffes so this is perfect. It’s hanging up in my classroom so I can smile whenever I see it.
The note
The note
This granola is so delicious!  It has cashews in it which is a welcome surprise.
This granola is so delicious! It has cashews in it which is a welcome surprise.
Yum!
Yum!

 

These are good.  The Imaginative One and I ate on them.
These are good. The Imaginative One and I ate on them.

 

I haven't dug into this yet.  However it looks delicious.
I haven’t dug into this yet. However it looks delicious.

Thank you Kristen for a great box! We really enjoyed it.

 
And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals. In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for November, please CLICK HERE (www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/) to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

*If you’re from Europe, please CLICK HERE (www.thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/) to signup.

Obsession

I have an obsession with granola.  I love trying new flavors.  We were at Whole Foods yesterday and I was checking out the granola’s there.  The Imaginative One had to tell me to step away from the granola area because I didn’t need to buy too many of them.  I just love eating them with either plain yogurt or almond coconut milk for breakfast or with my lunch

Here’s my newest find:

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It’s delicious@

Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad

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I tried to come up with a witty blog entry about this salad.  Even though I thought and thought, I couldn’t come up with anything.  So I’ll just be straightforward.  This recipe is delicious and easy to put together.  You can adapt it by changing up the veggies in the salad.

Pesto Orzo Pasta Salad

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/4 Tbsp. pesto
  • 1/4 c. broccoli florets
  • 1/4 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half or even fourths
  • 1/4 c. bell pepper, diced (I used yellow.)
  • 2 Tbsp. diced black olives
  • 2 Tbsp. Feta cheese

Steps:

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions.  Put broccoli florets in the cooking water for the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking time.
  2. Drain pasta and broccoli in a strainer.  Run cool water over the pasta and broccoli to stop the cooking process.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Enjoy!

This made 3 servings for me.

Printable Recipe

Need to get refocused

I had been doing great with my eating. Then illness and other things halted my progress. Spring break was killer for me. I didn’t eat right during a lot of it. I’ve gained back a pound so I know I need to refocus before it’s multiple pounds.

Today was my first day from break. I was so busy with getting work done and teaching. I’ve got to make sure I have time to eat lunch. That is one of my biggest problem. Too little calories is just as bad as too many calories. I need to make sure those calories count also. Today for lunch I had orzo pasta salad with a pesto dressing. The veggies in the salad were broccoli, tomatoes, and yellow peppers. There was also some chopped black olives and feta cheese in the salad. Yum! I also had a Chobani blood orange yogurt and a cutie. It was a good lunch.

Breakfast is also an issue for me. I’ve been doing better about having breakfast. However when I am working I take it with me with intention of eating it all. I usually only finish part of it. I’m just not hungry before I leave for work.

So if I can work on eating a better lunch and completing my breakfast, I think I’ll do better in my quest to get healthier.

Menu Plan – Week of April 8

orgjunkie_bannerI’ve been bad about eating healthy.  I really need to get on track.

Breakfasts –

  • warm apple yogurt x 2
  • overnight oats x 2
  • pumpkin chocolate oatmeal muffin
  • spinach and artichoke frittata

Lunches –

  • BBQ beef lettuce wraps
  • pesto orzo salad
  • brown sugar chicken salad
  • honey dijon pork sandwich
  • pizza

Dinners –

  • BBQ beef 
  • brown sugar chicken, rice, steamed veggie
  • Honey dijon pork, baked potatoes, steamed veggie
  • pizza , salad
  • spaghetti, bread, salad
  • chicken cordon bleu, salad
  • “fried” fish sandwiches, baked oven fries, salad

For more menu plans, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Ham and pineapple fried rice

Day 2 of using up ham left-overs was a success. In fact, Hubby told me that it was better than Bd’s Mongolian Grill. Score!

A few weeks ago, we went to Bd’s for supper. He loves the fact you can pick your own ingredients and then they grill it up. So this was saying a lot when he liked my version better.

Oh, I know there are a lot of versions of this recipe floating around. However this is my creation based on the concept.

Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice

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Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 tsp. sesame seed oil
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 c. Broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 c. Ham diced into medium sized pieces
  • 1 sm. can of diced pineapple, juice drained and set aside (8 oz.)
  • 1 lrg. Egg, beaten
  • 1 c. Cooked brown rice, cooled
  • 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. hot sauce

Steps:

  1. Heat oils in a skillet. (Medium heat)
  2. Add veggies to the skillet. Cook until tender.
  3. Add ham and pineapple. to skillet. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until warmed through.
  4. While the ham and pineapple are cooking, combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and ginger in a separate bowl.
  5. Push all veggies, ham, and pineapple to side of skillet.
  6. Add the beaten egg. Stirring the egg until it’s cooked.
  7. Add the rice. Pour the pineapple juice, soy sauce, and ginger mixture over the food in the skillet.
  8. Cook for about 5 minutes longer.
  9. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

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Ham and Black Bean Soup (GF, DF)

So on Easter Sunday, I decided to cook Easter dinner.  Yes, on Easter Sunday at about 11:45 am, I committed to making dinner.  Okay it was only going to be for 6 of us so that’s not too bad.

My family of four headed to the grocery store to plan out the meal because I had no clue was I was going to make.  I ended up cooking crock pot ham, honey and cinnamon carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, and spinach salad.  We had lots of ham left-over.  Fortunately for us, we love ham!

I’m finding ways to transform the ham into delicious dishes so we are not just eating ham over and over again even though the Imaginative One would love that.  Last night I made ham and black bean soup using Bob’s Red Mill’s Black Bean Soup mix.  You can use any black bean soup mix or dried black beans to make this soup.

Ham and Black Bean Soup

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 cups of black bean soup mix or dried black beans
  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 cups of diced ham
  • 1/2 lrg. onion, diced
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Rinse and sort the black beans or black bean soup mix.
  2. Put the black bean soup mix or black beans, water, and 1 c. diced ham in a large soup pot.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  4. Let cook for 1-1/2 hours until the beans are soft.
  5. Add the chicken stock, onion, remaining diced ham, salt, and pepper.  Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!  (We had ours with a pretzel roll.  We shared the soup with my mother-in-law.  She had hers with rice.)

Printable Recipe

Foodie Pen Pal – March

FPP-post

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!

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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.