July Foodie Pen Pals!

I’ve been hearing whispers about foodie pen pals but I wanted to make sure I could commit to sending as well as receiving a wonderful box!

For those of you who haven’t heard of foodie pen pals, it’s just as the name implies.  You sign up, send a box full of foodie goodies to the person you’ve been assigned to and in turn, you get your own box of surprises in the mail!  It’s a great way to meet new bloggers and try some new things!  But, you do not have to be a blogger to participate! You can go visit The Lean Green Bean to find out more!

This month, my box was sent to me by Cherie of Cherie Runs This.  I am so glad I discovered her blog, this girl is freakin awesome!  Go check her out!

Look at these funny stickers she added to the box!

My motto: you can never be too rich or have too many cookies.

Home is where the hot fudge is.

Seriously, I LOOOVE hot fudge.  I cannot keep it in the house because I will just eat it with a spoon in a day!

Anyways, I ripped into the box with such enthusiasm, can’t you tell??

The first things I saw were an envelope and a reusable bag from Trader Joe’s!  I had mentioned to Cherie that sadly, the closest Trader Joe’s to me was 8 hours away.

Inside the envelope were stickers and a sweet note and it listed all of the items in my box.  She made sure that:

“… it’s MANGO free!”

I love re-usable bags, if only because I don’t have to fuss with recycling all of the plastic bags, plus they hold a lot more!

Cookie Butter:  When I spotted this I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  I’d always wanted to try this stuff!

It was different than what I was expecting: a more sugar cookie flavor.   But when I read the description it made sense:

“A deliciously unusual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits.”

Depsite my expectations, it is delicious!  I think the label says something about spreading it on things, but I’ve just been eating it by the spoonful. 🙂

Apple Strawberry fruit wrap:

This little fruit wrap was quite tasty!  The flavor was very true to real apple and strawberry.

And the nutrition stats weren’t terrible!  I mean, fruit is mostly sugar anyways.  How do you think I’m so sweet?  (heh, heh.)

Swiss milk chocolate:  Oh my heavens, be still my heart.

This came in handy during a late-night cramming study session!  😉

Artichoke hearts: Cherie certainly did her homework!  Yummm.

I can’t wait to add these to my salads!

Toasted Coconut Cookie Thins:  I don’t know if I’ve really mentioned this, but I am a HUGE fan of coconut.

These cookies were crispy and light, not too sweet, but packed full of coconut flavor!  It was like eating a piece of a tropical island.

THANK YOU Cherie!!

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Last but not least, here is a reader, Emma, who agreed to do a special guest post about the box  I sent to her!  

How cute is this picture?  She officially puts aaall of mine to shame.  Here’s Emma!

Every item I received for my first-time-experience July foodie pen-pal package was new to me!

They were either things I hadn’t seen/heard of, or things I’ve wanted to try, but never got around to purchasing.  I didn’t get to taste everything though – my other half got to the trail mix bars by Mariani (sesame and a cranberry) before I could, but that shows excitement!    (<—this sounds exactly like what mine would do too.)

1 – Chocolove Raspberry in Dark Chocolate bar – I’m not a huge “sweets” fan, but this was wonderful!  The texture had crunch to it, and it wasn’t overly sweet (55% cocoa) and had sprinklings of pink raspberry inside – beautiful packaging and chocolate.

2 – Seasnax (roasted seaweed snack classic olive).  As the grab & go package says, “strangely addictive”, very true…if you like sushi, these are great…even if you don’t like sushi – they’re still addicting, they don’t have an over-powering “seaweed” flavor, probably because of the nice saltiness and olive oil.

3 – Orville Redenbacher’s natural whole grain buttery salt and cracked pepper popcorn – great!  I love cracked pepper and who doesn’t love butter – perfect combo..this was the mini bag package – perfect size!

4 – Blue Diamond butter toffee roasted almonds – these are good to have on hand for “sweet” cravings…they’re healthier than pure candy and they satisfy for sure.

5 – Food Should Taste Good cheddar chips; lot of stuff going on in this cracker/chip – cheddar, quinoa, flax, sunflower, sesame sees, soy, brown rice, tortilla chip/cracker.  The first bite was kind of, “hmmm…” then the sesame seed flavor kicked in (which I personally love) mixed with the cheddar is a nice combo – the texture’s great too – more like a cracker.

6 – Peanut Butter and Co. the Bee’s Knees peanut butter with honey – this is the main thing I never got around to purchasing myself, and have always been curious – no disappointments!  The honey gives the peanut butter a different sweetness from the usual sugar…again, not overly sweet, it’s a nice thick peanut butter, not oily..very good.

7 – Luna bar, peanut butter cookie – I’ve never had a Luna bar before – very impressive for a “whole nutrition” bar.  The texture was great – rice crispiness on top, peanut butter flavor on the bottom.

8 – Stretch Island Fruit Co. all-natural fruit strip (cherry and strawberry) – these were fun…took me back to grade school, only these are waaay better!

9 – Al Dente basil fettuccine noodles – they look and smell fantastic – dinner tonight perhaps?

Thank you Meg for a wonderful AND healthy variety of snacks (and meals!)  This is the perfect start-out to the foodie pen-pal experience!

Thank you Emma for writing a great little post!  I am thrilled that you enjoyed everything!  🙂

Until next time!

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Foodie Finds!

WordPress: what the heck?  Sometimes it is so weird.  I push “enter” and the next thing I know I’m publishing a barely written post with 4 pictures.  I am a moron.  So sorry for those of you who had to witness that.  Arg…  I wasn’t readdyyyyyy.

Moving on.

These last two weeks have been… well “hell” is the first word that comes to mind, but that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  We were studying the renal system at school and that is one confusing and complicated system.

Morals of the story:

kidneys are important, don’t get kidney stones, if your kidneys fail, you are in trouble.

Thankfully, I made it through the test and am now counting down the days until the last two tests of summer semester.  One the same day.  I am so lucky.

So that’s why this blog has been a little quite.  My life has been eat, sleep and study.  Not even the gym has made an appearance.  I am so bad.

You guys.  Today’s post is going to include a whole lot of FOOD!

I’ve come to realize though I like to try new things, I don’t necessarily like to PAY for them.  What if I don’t like it?  This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

It’s the same thing in restaurants, depending on the place.  If I know I like something, it’s hard for me to try something else when I know I love a particular dish so much!

I tend to stick to my habits.  Sometimes you gotta be adventurous though!

Seasnax:

These were on sale for a buck and I thought, why not?  They were strangely addicting, but I think I’d rather have potato chips. 😉

Food Should Taste Good cheddar chips:

I have Sara to blame for these.  They have lots of cheesy flavor, yum!

Larabars!

I’d tried Larabars once before and wasn’t impressed.  I think it was a cherry flavor and I didn’t like it.  These two flavors are good though!  I liked the peanut butter chocolate slightly better because the chocolate coconut was a little… textury.  I’m glad I gave them a second chance.

Ben and Jerry’s Greek frozen yogurt in raspberry fudge chunk.  

Holy moly, those stuff is GOOOOOD.  I’m pretty sure it was gone in two sittings.  Possibly within one day.  So refreshing with lots and lots of chocolate chunks!

Ken’s Steakhouse lite northern Italian with basil and romano.

My mom actually picked this up for me when she was visiting and I think it’s already half gone!  It’s a bit more interesting than regular Italian dressing.  I really like it!

Nectarines.

This must be a good year for nectarines because I have been going through tons of them!  They’ve been sweet and juicy and don’t stick to the pit (I hate that!).   They’ve even found their way into my oats….

Ah yes,  dreaded oatmeal.

 If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I’m not oatmeal’s biggest fan.  I guess sometimes, when you are a grown up, you have to eat things you don’t really like but that are good for you.

In other news, with temperatures reaching over 100 quite regularly, there’ve been a lot of hodgepodge salads happening.

Such as this one with spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, salmon and brown rice.

Other days, I just had a little lettuce-less salad on the side.

With school consuming my life, some days it’s been really hard to eat well or regularly.  I need to get back to preparing things ahead of time!  In fact, that is my plan for this afternoon– with some homework on the side, of course.  Thankfully, the home stretch is almost here!

 

Recipe! Compost Cookies

Hello everyone!  I have an extra special post today from my cousin!   Sadly, we live on opposite sides of the country and I haven’t seen them in far too long but we keep in touch through facebook and instagram.  Also, she has the cutest weimeraner ever.  Oh, and to say she is an Auburn fan would be an understatement.

She posted these cookies on instagram and I actually thought they were made out of compost!  It turns out they are a brilliant and yummy idea with endless combinations!  The idea is to add 1 1/2 cups of something sweet and 1 1/2 cups of something salty.  I love that combo!

Here she is!

Hi, my name is Anita. I am Meg’s cousin-in-law, and I live in Prattville, Alabama. Yes, Meg has some Southern roots!  (Note from Meg: I love my southern roots!)

Meg asked me to write about a recipe I posted some Instagram pics of, so here goes. Unfortunately, I had already made the second batch, except baking them, so I will try to do the best I can to describe the process.

The link to the original recipe I found is here.

I love to peruse through recipes on my iPad. If they seem too difficult or way too many steps, I immediately go on to something else. I stumbled across this one on Yummly, and it came from the Momofuku Milk Bar. I actually have another recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar in my stash that I haven’t tried yet.

The recipe for their Compost Cookies caught my attention:

1) because of the name

2) because I love junk food.  I am trying to do better about what I eat, but still have lots of failures. I do get out almost every morning and walk 3+ miles, so that helps me feel better when I have my binges.

(Note from Meg: Anita has been doing awesome!  I’m so proud of her for getting healthy!)

So the first time I made the recipe, I decided to go with chocolate chips and crushed pretzels. I learned during this time that it is best to have everything already measured out, etc. and have it close at hand – especially if you are like me and don’t have a stand mixer.

I had my oldest daughter crush up the pretzels and measure them and measure out the chocolate chips for me.  This wasn’t a difficult task for her as she is a college junior (grin). I followed the recipe just like it says and refrigerated the scooped dough for a couple of hours before baking about half of the cookies. Then when I decided to bake them, I put them in the oven for the nine minutes. At this point they looked exactly as it showed in the above recipe, but a little on the pale side, so the timer went on for another two minutes. At the end of 11 minutes, they were gorgeous! And oh, so yummy!

(Note from Meg: oven temperatures seem to vary just the slightest bit!)

So over the next few days I baked the rest of the cookies.

Here is what this batch looked like.

Now, one thought on this, if you don’t have a lot of refrigerator space, I am not sure where you would put all of these cookies.

The recipe says to scoop the dough and let refrigerate for one hour to one week. I have a second refrigerator, so I had more than half of the dough in the second refrigerator, on cookie sheets and pans and anything I could think of to put it on.

These cookies were soooooo good, sweet and salty all in one place!  But I wanted to try them with potato chips and something non-chocolate. I know, I love chocolate, but we have a teenage friend who doesn’t like chocolate, and I try every once in a while to do something without chocolate. So I checked with her to see if she liked the Mike and Ike candies. She said she did, so the plan was forming.

I bought two boxes of the candies and set about cutting each piece into thirds. That took about a box and a half. Then I took some leftover wavy potato chips and crushed them in the bag. Then I got everything else measured out in individual bowls and all within reach and started the mixing process.

I followed the directions and then added the candy and chips. I really wanted to only scoop out one cookie sheet of dough, but then remembered how the dough gets a little hard on the outside and was afraid the bowl would be like that and a disaster, so I went ahead and scooped it all out onto various pans.

This is what they look like after being in the refrigerator for a few hours.

I then waited for a little over an hour for it to chill, then got my oven hot and popped the pan in.

At the nine-minute mark, I checked the cookies. Hmmm. They weren’t crackly like the first batch had been and like the recipe said, but they looked good. They still needed a little more time under the heat, so back in for another minute or two. This batch really spread out on the pan where the first batch hadn’t spread that much. It seems to be a thinner dough for some reason.

But, oh, my!  These taste like gooey sugar cookies with fruity pieces in it. They were still very good!  I still have about two dozen to bake, but will probably do that before we head out for the beach for the rest of the week.  (Note from Meg: Lucky!!)

But don’t hate me for the beach trip, it looks like we are in for quite a bit of rain while we are there. But, hey, a rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home – but home is expecting rain too.  (Note from Meg: Ohh, I think rain during an Alabama summer is the best– especially thunderstorms!)

I hope you will try this recipe.  If you do, let me know what your special ingredients were and what you thought of them.

Blessings,

Thanks Anita!  Boy, I wish I could pop over for a couple of these cookies!  🙂  Can you imagine all the fun combinations you could make?

What’s your favorite salty/sweet combination?

The Days You Feel Like You Can’t

The number one greatest thing about my husband is… well, truthfully I could never choose just one.  But he is a great listener.  Which is really good because I talk a lot.  But he also gives pretty awesome advice.  For example:

“Nothing happens overnight.”

Everyone has a day or two (or a hundred) when things don’t go as planned.  That feeling of discouragement sinks in…

When you feel like you can’t…

…do things right

…be on time

…be pretty

…make a change

…learn math/science/how to set the sprinkler system

…remember anything to save your life

…get things done

…make a difference

…be good enough

When those hurdles seem insurmountable.

And sometimes those plans and dreams seem so far away from each other.

Eventually, and more than once, the moment comes when you realize that not everything in life is not directly under your control and that sometimes you have to do your best and let it be.

When that nagging voice in the back of your head is saying “You can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t…”

That part of life where you’re just coming around the bend and don’t know what lays on the other side.

When things are chaotic and so fast paced you can barely catch your breath– and at the same time the days are long with waiting and wondering…

Get up.

Take courage.

Try again.

Keep.

Going.

Gym Pet Peeve and Signs of Life

Hello!  Did all my fellow Americans have a good fourth?  And let’s not forget Canada day for my fellow Canadians!  And of course, love all around to those of you living elsewhere!

I used the extra “Saturday” to clean my house from top to bottom and get some yard work done.  Whopee!

If you don’t live in Canada or the US, what is a big holiday in your country?

Things are still busy, busy around here but it’s summer, and life is good.  Guess what!  I got 100% on my Microsoft Word exam!  Now we are moving onto Excel and then Powerpoint.  It’s amazing all the tricks I’ve learned.  I finally feel like I sort of fit in with my computer literate family.

Jax survived neutering like a champ.  I knew he would but I still missed that little guy! Here he is on the ride home:

I feel like something’s missing…

He definitely did not slow down.  But luckily, he did not need a cone of shame:

Haha, that one gets me every time!  (any UP! fans?)

In fact the last few weeks I’ve been having a problem with him pulling out my newly planted iris bulbs!  I think he’s done it at least 3 times!  Little stinker!  Luckily my iris are tough and have sprouted signs of life despite Jax’s best attempts!

There is no comparison to homegrown tomatoes and this year I finally, FINALLY got my own little tomato plant.  We’ll see how it goes:

My house is currently smelling amazing because of this little gem I came across on Pinterest:

(source)

Just lemons, vanilla and rosemary simmering on the stove.  Apparently it’s a Williams Sonoma secret, so don’t tell!

I made this amazing buffalo pizza, recipe courtesy of Janetha.  Holy.  Yum.  I’m thinking I need to make it again this week.

You can find the recipe here.

 So let me tell you my #1 gym pet peeve.

Nope.  It’s not grunting.  I usually have my headphones on so I don’t hear much anyway.

Or dropping weights really loudly.

Nope.  It’s this:

Weights, weights everywhere. Except where they belong!

 What.  The.  Heck!

People who don’t clean up after themselves drive me nuts!  I don’t understand what is so hard about walking a couple of feet and put them on the rack!

The ones on the left were literally left right in the middle of the floor, so that everyone had to step over/around them.  I’m the one who would trip over them if I wasn’t paying attention.  They were also 80-90# which is too heavy for me to pick up by myself.

On this same venture to the gym, someone had spilled what looked like Coke (who drinks soda at the gym?) and hadn’t bothered to wipe it up.  Since it was the only open bench, I grabbed a towel and wiped it up no problem.  Arg!  Some people are so lazy!

But at least at the end of it all, I get to come home and snuggle with these guys:

That makes it a little better.

p.s. Look how big Jax is getting!