Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals

It's that time again! Time for the monthly Foodie Pen Pal Reveal!  This month my package came from Dena, over at 40 Fit in the Mitt.  Dena had such a busy month with a Blogger Retreat in Boulder, Colorado. Check out her blog to see her adventure! With all she has going on, she still had time to put together an amazing box for me!

Edamame was the first item I found in the box. I was so excited!
I have always wanted to try Edamame, but never seem to get it into my shopping purchases. The dry roasted version was delicious. I loved it, and look forward to having it again. 
Thanks for introducing me to the snack, Dena!

Next, I found a box of Penne Rigate that is low in carbs. I am looking forward to trying this as I love my pasta's! Muesli is new for me to, and it is tasty! I have been sprinkling a bit on my greek yogurt for a delicious breakfast.

 Nutella. I have no words other than Thank You! (I love Nutella :) )

Rice Crackers were new to me as well. 
I was a little hesitant at this new treat, but I really do like them!

Dena also sent a bag of Egyptian Chamomile tea. I have yet to try this, but I look forward to it!

Dena also included a lovely assortment of recipe's and coupons! Who doesn't love coupons?!

Thank you so much Dena for introducing me to such tasty items. You made an amazing selection, and it was so appreciated!

The Lean Green Bean
Here are the Foodie Penpals details:
-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 residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. 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 interested in participating for June, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe has been my go to Chocolate Chip Cookie quite some time now. I always tweak the recipe for us, but I never seem to manage to write down my changes. I think I am usually to excited for them to come out of the oven to bother writing down what it is I do!  I finally I have my recipe documented and preserved. 

This cookie is simply the perfect cookie...  Oatmeal... Peanut Butter... And Chocolate Chips.. Perfection in a bowl! Even my truckin' man requests these. This weekend when he saw the cookies in the oven, and wanted to know if it was the "good ones"? He doesn't always have rave reviews when I try a new recipe, so he is happy when I make these. Even after he sat down with his cookie from the last batch, I heard "Wow" from the other room. I figured he was "wowing" the new episode of Pawn Stars or Storage Wars, but he was "wowing" the cookie. That is success in my book :)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, light and dark brown sugars, and vanilla extract, for about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk, beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the oats, and chocolate chips.

Use a medium cookie scoop and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on baking sheet.

Adapted from:  Brown Eyed Baker 

Enjoy :)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Frosted Chocolate Cake

I think it was about 3 months ago, I ordered a couple mystery novels for reading in my free time. I have not yet turned a page in a single one of them. My problem is that my mom, and my gram, have both been cleaning out cookbooks and sending them my way. Whenever I do have time to sit and read for a bit, I end up picking up a new cookbook and paging through. Am I the absolute luckiest to be having this problem?? The bad part for my truckin' man is that the new item on his honey do list is to get some shelving created to help me organize all this!

I was star struck the other night when I found a Chocolate Cake covered in a Peanut Butter Frosting. So much for my branching out and baking without Chocolate or Peanut Butter for a while! It did not disappoint. Give this a try. Make sure you have a glass of milk ready :)

Chocolate Cake
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. brewed coffee, room temperature

In mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes.  Stir in coffee (batter will be thin). Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla extract 
1 Hershey bar, chopped

Beat cream cheese and peanut butter in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Beat in sugar, milk and vanilla.  Spread over cake. Sprinkle with Hershey bar pieces.   Store in refrigerator.

***Note*** If you like a thicker frosting, double the frosting recipe!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Buttermilk Lemon Tarragon Bread

I tried a new herb! I am pretty proud of myself, as silly as that is. The herb I decided to try is Tarragon. I made this my first in the herb list, because of the recipe I found.  It is for Buttermilk Lemon Tarragon Bread, over at From My Sweet Heart. Just to let you know how big a challenge this was, and how little I use fresh herbs, I wasn't sure if my store even sold this. I figured my best bet was in going to the co-op. At first I could only find parsley and cilantro, but then I found another section with herbs! And, there was even a nice little package of tarragon.  Success!

From some reading I did I tarragon, I learned that it would have a sweet anise flavor. I have not been a huge fan of anise flavored foods in the past, so I was concerned that I may not be pleased with the flavor. But, it's delicious! I sampled a bit of a leaf before baking the bread, and it passed my first inspection, so I went on with the recipe. This bread is absolutely wonderful. It is amazingly moist.  Such a range of flavors.... from the fragrant tarragon, a nice hit from the black pepper, and the wonderful bit of lemon. You must try this! 
I am excited to try tarragon in other foods now, as well as learn about other herbs!

Buttermilk Lemon Tarragon Bread  (Source From My Sweet Heart)
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. sugar
1 T.  finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 T. lemon zest
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. sour cream  (I substituted Greek Yogurt)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare an 8 x 3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Melt butter and set aside.  

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, sugar, tarragon and lemon zest.  In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream and buttermilk.  Pour the melted butter and the egg mixture over the flour mixture and combine just to moisten the dry ingredients.  

Spoon dough into prepared bread pan.  Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until the top springs back lightly when touched in the center.  Place the pan on a cooling rack until just warm.  This bread will keep at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap for 1 week.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Gardening Season Begins

 The garden was just a blank canvas staring at me this weekend. It's size is well over doubled from last year.
The year before, my garden was about 3' by 3'. 
Quite an expansion! Now where to begin??

200 onion plants. Walla Walla, Candy, and Texas 1015. They were the first to get planted.
I am so excited for them to be ready to join us for a dinner!

So excited to get everything in the ground.... 
Lettuce, spinach, peas, beans, squash, pumpkins.... to name a few.

I did not see my man much this weekend.  
He was home from truck driving, but out in the tractor working on planting.

I always have one of these little companions near by. Isn't he cute?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lemon Brownies

I feel like I have been getting really stuck in some food ruts lately, so I am challenging myself this month to get out of the ruts and try some new recipes and ingredients.

Another goal for this season is to start using more fresh herbs. I can grow almost any herb this season, so I want to learn how to use them and take advantage of them. More to follow on this goal and challenge for myself.

This week, in my baking, I was breaking away from the chocolate and peanut butter routine, and experimenting with a couple lemon recipes. I had a lemon cookie failure, that was probably more the fault of my oven than the baker :) Then success with lemon brownies! These are such a nice change of pace. Bright lemony flavor. Quick and easy. 

Lemon Brownies  (source Rita's Recipes)
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c.butter, soft
2 eggs
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1T)
zest from 1/2 lemon (about 1t)

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T lemon juice
additional lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8 x8 baking pan.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter. In another bowl, whisk eggs with the lemon juice and zest. Add to the larger bowl and mix well.
Pour into prepared 8X8 pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.  
Mix together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest.  Pour over brownies.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Growing Chickens

I don't know when birds officially move from being called "chicks" to "chickens", but my flock is getting so big, I think they now qualify as chickens!

Everyone is growing like crazy. The Cornish will be sent off to be butchered in about two weeks.

The Reds should be laying eggs, anywhere from two to four months from now.

The Reds LOVE the new perch I put up for them.  
It's so fun re-purposing old junk into functional stuff for the girls!

Lots of lessons learned and tons of ideas for when we expand the flock. 
This week we learned that they love to eat nettles! Keep eating girls, lots more to go!