Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Sorry everyone, my brain is fried, so this is a day late... Argh!

This is my second month participating in the Foodie Penpal program. It was even more fun than the first month, if that's possible! Haha! I really do suggest you guys give it a try, though. Click here to get all the info and the registration form is on that page, as well:

The Lean Green Bean

For March, my Foodie Penpal was Ronata from New York. She sent me an awesome box!!! Check it out:

~ homemade blueberry jam -yum!
~ dried habaneros - we are really excited about these!
~ cranberry nut granola - haven't gotten to dig into this yet, but it's going on some yogurt!
~ peppered gravy mix - their family's favorite

~ lavender and a recipe for lavender lemonade - I'd never gotten to work with real lavender, so this was super exciting!
~ coconut extract - from their local Amish market, used for baking
~ pudding mix - She said it was her son's favorite and my Man was excited to have some treats in the house just for him

~ a variety of different tea - I have no idea how she knew that I'm a tea drinker, I never mentioned it, but flavored green tea is my absolute favorite!
~ her son tossed in his favorite organic gummy treat - which ended up being a great idea! a no-sugar-added fruit leather is hard to find, so I was super excited to gobble it up!

Head over to the link-up HERE to see what everybody else has been sending. I sent to Elizabeth in Massachussets. I hope she enjoyed the goodies I sent her!

Off to do more housework. See you guys later!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

The Lean Green Bean

So, this month, I decided to join the Foodie Penpal blog circuit. You can find more info on that at the end of the post, or on the organizer's blog post.

For February, I got a box of goodies from Kira over at My Sesame Seed Buns. We had some troubles with my email account mysteriously deleting her emails asking about what kinds of goodies I usually enjoy, BUT, she still managed to get me a box stuffed with yummy-looking snacks!

Look at this loot!
Clockwise from the top left:
~ Pringles Multigrain crisps in Creamy Ranch flavor - mmmmm!
~ A caramel cream brownie mix - Kid will enjoy this, I'm sure
~ Back to Nature Sesame Tarragon crackers - these will go into a lunch box very soon
~ Pillsbury Baguette Chips in Cheddar & Sundried Tomato flavor - I'll probably have to share these with Man
~ Hidden Dragon rice cracker snack mix - somehow, she knew I'm an Asian snack fiend!
~ A handwritten spinach dip recipe - I'll try it and post about my results after the move
~ Single serving bags of Pirate's Booty Aged White Cheddar puffcorn - there will be a fight over these if I don't keep them hidden in my bedroom!

Thanks, Kira!

I was assigned to send goodies to Julianne, over at Beyond Frosting. You can look at her blog to see what I sent her.

And, don't forget to look at all the other goodie boxes from this month!

If you want to sign up, check out the info and rules on the organizer's blog. Maybe we'll get matched up sometime! You have to sign up by the 4th of each month, AT THE VERY LATEST!

Catch ya later,
Al :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

[Quick Tip] Stain Remover

OK, so this will be quick, because as I'm typing, Kid is yelling at me from the other room that we have to get ready to go... Cheerleading Nationals is this weekend. We actually don't have to be at the school until 2, which means leaving at 1:40, but it's 10:20, so clearly, we're rushed! The mind of a 13-year-old... Heh.

So, last weekend was cheerleading state competition (we got 2nd in our division!) and in the process of a 13-hour-day, someone somehow got bright red lipstick all over Kid's uniform sleeve. There is some controversy over how it actually got there, so that'll have to be another post. So I washed it, pouring a little extra detergent right over the spot and figuring that it would come out. No luck. Still there, still bright as it was when it first arrived. Search online and came up with some special product reviews you can purchase for the low low price of blah blah blah... Forget that, I need something right now.

Pinterest to the rescue! Went on to my Going Green Board and found a pin I posted before about Hydrogen Peroxide being the miracle worker in the house. Sure enough, this link had a recipe for getting yellow pit stains out of shirts with a cleaner made from the stuff.
I wound up making a tiny batch: 2 drops of dish soap, sprinkle of baking soda and a capful of hydrogen peroxide. Used a toothbrush while praying that it would work cause it was my Hail Mary option and I'm running outta time.

It came right out!! Tossed it in the laundry again to wash out the residue, and voila, like new. Looks like the stain had never been there!

Try it on any stains you've been putting off trying to get rid of and let me know if it works for you and what you used it on!

Wish us luck for Nationals!
Catch ya later,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

{Recipe} Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin

Man, I suck at naming new recipes. So, just call this whatever you want, I guess. Maybe there's a class I can take somewhere...

Anyways, this morning for breakfast I had a quick oatmeal creation. I'm all about the 2-ingredient oatmeal pancake (1 packet of instant oatmeal + 1 egg, combine and soak for 20 minutes then cook in a pan like a pancake) and the 5-minute cakes from Eggface. So, why not combine the 2 concepts and make oatmeal muffins in the microwave? Stroke of genius! Ok, maybe not, I'm sure it's been done before, but here's my version.

This is yet another difficult recipe. Very complicated process, requiring specialty equipment and exotic ingredients.

The Software:
6 ingredients

An egg, quick cooking/minute oats, milk, sweetener of choice, cinnamon, blueberries.
You guys have figured out that I'm a very sarcastic person, right?

3 pieces of equipment

A 1/4 cup measuring cup, a mixing device and your favorite coffee mug. Yes, mine is a Tuki Makeeta coffee mug from Rainforest Cafe. Judge all you want.
 *In hindsight, a skinnier mug would be better, because the muffin would be more muffin-y and less shaped like a hockey puck.

I suppose you could add a plate to the list of equipment needed, but you could also eat it right out of the mug, so that's *technically* not required, but optional.

I forgot to take pictures of the process, so you'll have to wing it on your own. What I did was this: crack the egg into the mug with a splash of the milk, and beat it well. Then thoroughly mix in the sweetener and cinnamon. This is easier to evenly mix in with the liquid before adding the solids. Stir the oatmeal in very well, then gently add the blueberries.
Stick this all in the microwave for 1 minute. If it's still too moist for you, go another 30 seconds.

 I took mine out and put it on a plate. Then decided it needed a little more. So, I added a dollop of whipped cream, a few extra berries and a dash of extra cinnamon. YUM!!

The possibilities are endless. I could see swapping SF maple syrup for the milk and using diced apples instead of blueberries. Or a splash of vanilla and mango pieces. Heck, even powdered peanut butter and bananas... Ooh boy!

{Recipe} Microwave Single-serving Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin
1 egg
1/4 cup quick cooking/minute oats
1 Tbsp or a good splash of milk
1 packet of splenda or a tsp or 2 of other sweetener (I used sugar-free brown sugar)
dash cinnamon
handful of blueberries
1. In a coffee mug, beat egg with milk, sweetener and cinnamon.
2. Mix in oats, then fold in blueberries.
3. Put in the microwave for 1 minute. Check, and if it's too wet still, then add another 30 seconds at a time until it's done. Don't over-do it or it will get crunchy and dry. Not tasty vittles!
4. Let it cool just a tad (it will pull away from the sides of the mug a little) then top it with a little whipped cream and extra fresh berries. You can turn it out on a plate if you really want to. Either way, just gobble it up and delight in the fact that it's delicious and good for you at the same time!

Try it out and let me know what you think!
Catch ya later,

Saturday, February 2, 2013

{Recipe} Nutella Brownie Mini-Cupcakes

It is hard to come up with an appropriate name for these little suckers.
They look like a mini-muffin, but they taste and feel like an ooey-gooey brownie.

 They are soooo delicious smelling, too, it's dangerous!

I adapted this recipe after I first tried it. I didn't like the texture very much, so I played around with it a little, and this new version is the bomb.

Best part is: only 3 ingredients. Seriously!
Only 3 Ingredients: Nutella, eggs and flour.
1 jar (13 oz, I think) Nutella spread (or the store-brand)
2 eggs
11 Tbsp flour ( I used pancake mix)

Notes on the software:
      I used regular, store-brand Nutella-type spread. These were for Man and Kid, so I wasn't worried as much about fat and sugar content. For a healthier version, I would use this recipe for homemade Nutella, or maybe even try a different nut butter with some cocoa (or chocolate protein powder for an extra boost) and milk mixed in.
      I used regular "complete" pancake mix instead of plain flour. Because I had it open, and again, wasn't too concerned with the sugar/carb count on these ones. If making them for me, I would probably use my pancake mix, or simply whole wheat flour. Almond meal/almond flour might work, haven't tried it.

Hardware: A mixing bowl, spatula/your favorite stirring object, scooper (or teaspoon), mini-muffin tin (for square brownies, you could use a brownie pan), muffin liners.

Process: Ready? Cause this is complicated....

Ok, I lied, it's not complicated... at all.
Dump everything into a bowl.

And mix it together. Done. Seriously.

Now, if you, like me and Man, have a stash of ketchup cups from fast food restaurants (which were intended to become fire starters, but ended up stacked ever so nicely on the tupperware bookshelf instead), you can use them to make your muffins more like cupcakes. Perfect for mini-muffin tins, and you get a 2-bite brownie. Win-win.

We just lined them up on a silicone mat (because we were out of wax paper and I didn't want to risk getting it all over the table) and filled them using a spring-loaded disher. A regular spoon would suffice, but you'll need 2 of them if you want to keep clean fingers.

Man is quite the action-shot photographer, no?
Once they're all filled, put them in a muffin tin. In hindsight, you could probably just lay them on a sheet pan.
See how clean and neat-looking?

If you're not using liners, skip that step and spray your muffin tin/brownie pan VERY WELL with non-stick spray, then fill them about 1/2 to 2/3 full. You don't want them nearly as full as I have them... Because they will expand and burp over the edges...
Like these:
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-15 minutes. That's a big time span, I know. If you're using the liners, they might need less time. If your pan is bigger than mine, you might need more time. Start with 8 and check them. When they are firm on top, or a toothpick inserted comes out non-gooped, they are done.

Yank them out and eat one immediately, burning the roof of your mouth remove from cooking device to a rack to cool completely. Then, devour them taste them and share them with your family. Leftovers, if you have any, should be stored in an airtight container. Good luck getting them to stick around, though. They are so good....

This photo tells me that I have a compulsion for shaping things nicely. And that our dining room table is a scratched-and-dented piece of crap well-loved family meal centerpiece.
  Try these, and let me know how you like them.

Nutella Brownie Bite RECIPE:
1 jar (13 oz, I think) Nutella spread (or the store-brand)
2 eggs
11 Tbsp flour [for the mathematically disturbed, this is 1/2 cup + 3tbsp, or just shy of 3/4 cup] ( I used pancake mix)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients very well.
3. Spoon/scoop/dish mixture into cooking device of choice. Do not overfill individual muffin cups!
4. Bake in preheated oven for 8-15 minutes, or until tops are set and toothpick comes out non-battered.
5. Let cool for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
6. Enjoy warm, perhaps with a squirt of whipped cream) or let cool and eat at room temperature.
7. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Maybe out of reach of children and grabby significant others. ;)

Catch ya later!
Al :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time Flies...

Usually they say "when you're having fun", but fun or not, the days seem shorter and shorter. I think good old MN is running on the 20 hour/day time schedule here. Even with my insomnia, I'm not getting anything done!

Life Updates:
We are getting ready to move March 1st! We found an apartment that is going to be just big enough for the Man, the Kid and I. We'll have a pup (or 2) joining us, but my awesome mom has said she'll keep them so we can get settled. Good things are happening, and I am so happy!

We are getting married this year! Not sure when, how or where, but it will happen.

 Kitchen Happenings:
I am cooking and bento-making as much as possible. Yesterday, I made Nutella brownie/mini-muffin bites. They were overcooked, but still pretty yummy for a quick recipe. Today, I made a dump-chicken recipe for dinner so Kid and Man had food after cheer while I was at class. I snatched a bite when I was putting away leftovers after got home. It was pretty tasty! After the move, I'll be doing a lot more crock-pot meals and freezer cooking, so get ready for that ride. Tomorrow I'll post both of those recipes while Man is at work and Kid is at school.

Crafting Corner:
I knitted a few scarves in AVMS Cheer Team colors. Kid decided that she liked having options, so they didn't get sold gifted to the other cheerleaders, and are floating around this house.
I made my first spiral scarf. Wore it for a week until my dear friend commented on it, and I took it off and gave it to her. She promised me pictures of it on her cruise, so we'll see the fun it had. I'll be jealous from here, for sure!
I crocheted a few headbands that Kid promptly stole. I swear, the new house must have a locking door or I'm getting a gun safe just for my projects! ;)

Exciting thing for the blog this month: I'm joining a group of Foodie Penpals! I will get a pal assignment on the 5th, and I will contact that person to get their mailing address, food requests/preferences/requirements (allergies, eating preferences, lifestyle info, etc.). Then, I get to go shopping! I'll send my package out, then I'll get a package in the mail, too. Sounds like so much fun! Extra exciting: on the last day of the month, I'll blog all about the stuff I got, and maybe get to link to the blog for my pal. Check out the info page HERE if you want the dets.

I'll be on here more often, I'm forcing myself to use this as the outlet I intended it to be, and I have a ton of creative projects just sitting waiting to be shared with the world!

Catch ya later,