Monday, April 30, 2012

April Foodie Pen Pal

The Lean Green Bean

It is no secret that I love getting the mail. I also love food.  It seemed like a match made in heaven then when I first heard about the Food Pen Pal program created by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean.  Lindsay pairs you up with another foodie and you create a food gift box of your favorites and send it off.  In return you get a little special box of your own full of goodies.

I was paired off with Amber. The whole Food Pen Pal thing was new to both of us and we were eager to please.

She sent off an assortment of teas, fruit strip snacks, granola, Jordan almonds, coconut cookies and peanut butter.

She was a woman after my heart or maybe my stomach would be a better phrase because she was able to send me so many truly enjoyable treats.

Funny that my gift contained some of the very same Peanut Butter and Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams.  It is the best stuff really so I was very happy to get one as well as The Bee's Knees. I have wanted to try this type for a while but when it comes down to it I always go with the chocolate.  Now I have both!

So if you want to join here are 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 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 May, please CLICK HERE 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!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Edition: Quite Time

I hope your weekend was as good as mine.  Saturday we did very little and it was amazing.  We made some amazing huevos rancheros with leftovers for lunch, took a nap in the afternoon, and made a delicious dinner of stuffed peppers.  Eat, sleep, eat.  Yep, that is pretty perfect for me.
Today we have plans to do a little planting.  We rent so the best we can do it a potted garden of veggies and herbs.  Mr. J is going to make sure we have multiple peppers this year and we both are going to make sure the deer don't attack.

This is what I was up to this week:

What were you up to this weekend?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Foodzie Box: Happy Earth Day

Earth Day was last week. Were you able to celebrate?  Connecticut had a massive rain/snow storm and it really put a damper on a lot of the planned activities around town. I was planning to participate in a beach clean up with some fellow co-workers but it was rescheduled in May. I guess you cannot win them all.

For April's Foodzie Box there was a celebration of Earth Day. 

“People, Profit, Planet” is the triple bottom line that Bumble Bar believes in. Their chewy, sesame seed-packed energy bars are made with organic ingredients, and they enforce green practices from processing to packaging.

This was what I was most excited for...mircowave popcorn that is flavored parmesan and rosemary.  Yum!  And I am inspired to make my own.

This fourth generation of family farmers harvests their stone fruit when it's tender and ripe. Hand-slicing and traditional sun-drying preserves the juiciness, yielding deliciously sweet, tender fruit, requiring zero energy beyond mother nature to process.

Styrian pumpkin seeds are the kings of the pumpkin seed world for flavor. These seeds have a rich, nutty flavor and are hulless so you get straight to the good stuff. CB’s is one of the few domestic growers, so they don’t come with a heavy carbon footprint to get to you.

Teatulia Tea comes direct to you from a single garden in Northern Bangladesh's Tetulia region.  They are USDA Organic and use eco packaging.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back in the Kitchen

How do you have the most perfect day?  Well for starters you don't work.  Next, you watch foodie shows until you see a recipe that completely turns you on. You head to the nicest grocery store you can think of to get the ingredients.  Finally you make said recipe.

I didn't go into the office on Wednesday after working all weekend and then doing a quick (just kidding) day trip to Ithaca, NY. Yes, that would be an eleven hour car ride to and from.  Did I mention the snow?  Yes, that was frightening to see on April 24th. It wasn't completely a day off but I got to do a lot of errands and fun activities.  I am telling you being at home is way more productive than going into the office.

I started the day at the gym and was able to catch of few of my favorite morning news and talk shows.  One of them featured Mark Bittman who was showcasing Spring pasta dishes.  It took about 2 seconds for me to be sold.

This recipe was Spring due to the leeks.  Lots and lots of leeks. I fried up the bacon and then very healthily cooked the leeks in the bacon fat.

Once the spaghetti is cooked and the leeks are soft you make four little holes in the leeks and crack some eggs.  The cooked spaghetti gets piled on top.

You stir it all up and you have a new version of carbonara.  It was good, really really good. If you want to go a bit more healthy since the way I put this dish together really isn't you can leave out the bacon or at least don't use the bacon fat and add peas.  As I detest peas this will never be an option for me but for you veggie folks it could be a good idea.

Top the dish off with a bit of cheese and it is done. I thought it was very flavorful and fancy considering the very minimal effort that goes into putting it together. I hope you enjoy it.

Spaghetti With Leeks, Bacon and Eggs

by Mark Bittman
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 8 ounces cooked spaghetti
  • 4 ounces chopped bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 chopped, cleaned leeks
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • chopped parsley
Cook 4 ounces chopped pancetta or good bacon in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon.

Add 3 chopped, cleaned leeks (about 1 pound) to the pan and cook until soft, golden and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Make four wells in the cooked leeks, add a little olive oil to each, and crack 4 eggs into the wells. Fry until the whites are barely set.

Toss with spaghetti, the bacon and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Garnish with chopped parsley.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Union League Cafe New Haven, CT and WIAW

It is Wednesday already and I cannot believe it. I guess it is better that the week is half way over than just starting. I am already dreaming about the weekend. 

With it being Wednesday I have a day full of good eats for you.

Both Mr. J and I have been gone for a few days and there is not much going on in the fridge.  Breakfast was a combination of frozen banana and strawberry sherbet topped with granola. It was one sweet breakfast and reminded me of a Jamba Juice.  I will be having one of these again shortly. 

Lunch was out. I went to Qdoba.  I haven't eaten here before and I was a little confused about the "Naked" meals.  I ended up with the pick 2 options obviously so I could sample as much as possible. I ended up with the chicken tortilla soup and the "naked" burrito.  I asked for extra lettuce on the bowl. It was pretty good but I think I am more partial to Chipotle. 

Dinner is from the Union League Cafe in New Haven, CT.  We have heard how good this restaurant is for years and thought there was no time than the present to check it out.  There is nothing like a random weeknight to go out for a fancy dinner date night.

We shared the mussels as an appetizer. They were so good and I could have had the whole platter on my own.  It was a good thing I didn't though because me meal was equally delicious.  I got the halibut from the seasonal Spring menu. This isn't a typical dish I would order because it was served with a very rich cream sauce.  The butter and cream taste really came through but it was in the best possible way.  

There was also asparagus and fava beans as well.  I am not sure of my feelings on fava beans. I eat them on rare occasions. I don't mind the taste but every time I heard the name I think of Silence of the Lambs.

Besides the good food the Union League Cafe is housed in a very historic building. I copied a portion from the website describing the building and its history.  

The historic Sherman Building is the site of Union League Cafe which is located directly across from Yale University and steps from the historic green of New Haven, Connecticut. The restaurant is situated on the site of the home of New Haven's first Mayor, Roger Sherman, the only American whose name appears on the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. One hundred years later, Gaius Fenn Warnier, one of the city's leading industrialists, built his townhouse, which today forms the core of the building.

From the 1880's through the 1940's our site served as the Union League Club, a private civic and social club. An elegant addition in 1902 created the atmosphere our guests experience today. Designed in the Beaux Arts tradition by new Haven architect Richard Williams, the building is a New Haven landmark.

The present day's interior continues in the Beaux Art tradition with its high ceilings and moldings, accented with mahogany mantles and archways, marble pillars and vintage stained glass windows. The walls in our Clubroom are hand painted with rich murals by acclaimed New York artist, Sally Colbert. Soft lighting, hand made wall sconces and chandeliers, along with a working marble fireplace only further highlight the historic architecture so well preserved today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lamb Burgers

This weekend a massive rain storm ran up and down the east coast.  There was even snow in some places.  Yikes! 

This is quite the change from the 70 degree temperatures last week.  Mr. J and I decided it was time to bring out the grill and fire up some burgers.  These weren't just any burgers though. We had made the trip to Whole Foods and got some pre-made lamb burgers.  

I justify the pre-made by saying that they were on sale. I definitely would not be purchasing these again unless they were on sale.  Not that they weren't delicious but I checked out the ingredients and they were simply ground lamb, feta, and Kalamata olives.  I can certainly do that on my own.

Mr. J grilled up the burgers and some onions.  I see now that he was not being 100% honest with me last fall when he swore he gave the grill a good scrub down before storing it for the winter. Tsk, tsk!

He also jazzed up the burgers with a homemade spread of sauteed garlic and melted feta topped with tomatoes.  It was a great addition and makes up a bit for the lacking of grill cleaning.

Lessons learned:
  1. Burgers made from ground lamb are delicious
  2. Toppings add value
  3. Do not waste money on pre-made versions
  4. Don't believe husband when he says he cleaned something

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

I feel a little bad posting a sherbet recipe during a day when the weather seems to be unseasonably cool.  Everyone in Kentucky was horrified by the 55 degree temperatures on Sunday.

In fact I was completely unprepared as well.  The warmest thing I brought was a very thin long sleeve button up sweater.  I only had it for plane as I tend to get quite cold on planes. I always blast the cool air to hit right at my face.  I heard a while back this is the best way to avoid picking up illnesses on planes besides washing hands and not touching your face.  It blows the germs away.  It seems to work for me so I pack another layer and know I will be cold.

Anyway, I haven't used my ice cream maker in quite some time but I resolve to use it very often this summer.  I had so much fun making this recipe.  I was definitely missing out not using it. Here is the first of many to come.

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

by Better Homes and Garden May 2012
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 2 cups strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Combine berries and nectar in a blender, process until smooth (about 1 minute). Add buttermilk; process until well blended.

Add lemon juice, if desired.

Chill mixture 1 hour. Pour into freezer can of an ice cream freezer. Use manufacturer's instructions until frozen appropriately.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend Edition: Louisville Kentucky

I am in Louisville, Kentucky for the first time in my life.  At least I don't remember visiting here before.  

I think of accents, fried chicken, mint juleps and fancy hats.  Oh yea, did I mention horses? 

I am staying downtown for a work conference but things are quite happening around here. This weekend starts the kick off of the two week festival, Rolling Thunder, leading up to the Kentucky Derby.  Hopefully I will be able to make it out to Churchill Downs.  

I wish I could come back and actually see the race. I always get mesmerized by the race.  Horses are some incredible creatures. But Kentucky for some people is known for other things...

I saw the real life suit wore by Mr. KFC and he was one little man. I don't think he ate too much of his own food.

And clearly I don't drink all that much because I forgot all about the bourbon.

This is what I was up to this week:

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze - massive fail in terms of appearance but it sure did taste wonderful

Balsamic Chicken

Spring Pasta Salad and WIAW

Shrimp and Asparagus

Friday's Favorites Fun Things

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Favorites Fun Things

Oh Friday, I am so torn as to whether or not I should celebrate you this week.  Friday normally means the weekend but I am off to a conference so my days will still be filled with work. Anyone know of fun things to do in Louisville?

I had some time this weekend to hunt around the Internet and it didn't take long before I had five things I couldn't wait to share with you all.

Leave it to Anthropologie to come out with more cute things for the spring.

I love these causal place mats. They are made from recycled silk so they are perfect gifts for Earth Day this weekend.

Crate and Barrel has these new Acacia containers that I think are so classy.  

I am not rich enough to have anything from Simon Pearce but these nesting bowls are so pretty. Good thing there are plenty of replicas.

 And aren't these bowls pretty too? They are called pinched spice pots.  The name makes me want them even more.

I found this new website this week and I cannot get enough of all the beautiful products they make.  The pastry towels are just what my kitchen needs. They come in sets of two in complementary colors.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shrimp and Asparagus

This post is quite late today. My computer is still acting funny. Or maybe it is just my Internet.  Regardless the whole blogging aspect of my life is a little challenging right now.

I don't really have a recipe for today. It was a super easy dish that was light and very spring-like.  My photos are all foggy because I wanted to it as soon as it was ready.  I really have no patience whatsoever, especially when it comes to food.

I love using fresh shrimp but whenever the frozen version is on sale I will buy some bags for good keeping.  I defrosted a bag of shrimp and roasted some asparagus.  

I sauteed the shrimp with some garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Once the shrimp was cooked through and hot I added in the asparagus. I was thinking this would be another pasta dish but then we opted for just a few slices of good bread.  It was so good.  Yum, yum,and yum!

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