Friday, August 31, 2012

August Foodie Pen Pal

This month I got a box from the lovely Amanda from Wisconsin. 

We quickly found out that we both love chocolate.  Even with the warm temperatures she ventured to send a box full of chocolate goodies and I am so glad she did.

There were three bars of chocolate, milk, mint, and caramel.  Think the center of a Lindt truffle in bar form.  They were so good! The first one I had was half gone before I knew it.  

We also got a cute football helmet with the Green Bay Packers logo and three chocolate covered Oreos with Mickey Mouse.  The Oreos were consumed within hours of receiving the box. 

There was chocolate fudge dip with pretzels and a box of Cocktail flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Pomegranate and Mint Mojito combination was my favorite.

Thanks Amanda! We enjoyed the box very much.

I sent a box off to Geneva.  She doesn't have a blog but sent these kind words over for me to post. 
I was the lucky person chosen to be Emily's Foodie Penpal for August. I received a great package filled with a variety of goodies for my pleasure. In my package was a box of Anna's Chocolate Mint Thin Wafers; which I already know will be the crust for my next Cheesecake. I just haven't decided what flavor yet. Next I pulled out a bag of Trader Joes Caramel Popcorn. I love popcorn and this bag is already only half full. A box of Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds was the next item I discovered. They look so rich and yummy. Those will have to be served for a special occasion worthy of them.
The best that my box had to offer were the Fleur De Sel Caramels. I am a caramel freak and these are some of the best I've ever eaten. They too are from Trader Joes and I highly recommend them to all you caramel junkies. Last but not least Emily brought me back down to earth with a healthy living magazine. I have gone through it twice already. It has a lot of great recipes and tips. I am embarrassed to say I can't remember the exact name of the magazine. I went to find it this morning and it is missing. I'm assuming my best friend Lisa, who was admiring it last night, took it home with her to get some of those recipes for herself. I want to thank Emily for being the best Foodie Penpal. I don't know how anyone will ever be able to top August!
LOL, Geneva

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals

If you’re interested in participating for September, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 

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

The Lean Green Bean

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pizza Dip

I am finally back from Michigan.  I am happy to be home. I am not so much in the mood to be cooking though.  Shhh...and don't tell Mr. J.  He will be all the ready to go out and nix my quinoa bowl with roasted veggies idea for dinner. 

Another dip I made for the office birthday celebration was pizza dip. This one wasn't super special.  Think cheese pizza. After all I was trying to please 45 different tastes.

I like it this way though the best.  Lots of cheese and some sauce.  Served with tortilla chips.

If you want to jazz it up a bit think pepperonis and olives.

Pizza Dip

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, oregano, parsley, basil, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate, or a shallow microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture. Spread the pizza sauce over all.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover, and microwave for 5 minutes or bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot with baguette slices, tortilla chips, or Fritos scoops.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Banana Basil Smoothie and WIAW

I don't know a better way to end summer than with this drink. August has been all about summer eats and this drink fits the bill 100%.  

Along with peppers the garden has been overgrown with basil plants. They are actually much more like basil bushes.  They are huge.  The more I pick the more they grow. I have had so much pesto already. We have been have Italian dishes left and right. We even made basil browned butter mash potatoes.  Still we have tons and tons of basil.  

I decided that throwing basil into my morning smoothies made perfect sense.  Thus when I ran out of spinach my green monster became green with basil.

Basil Banana Smoothie

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1)
  • 2 bananas
  • 10 Basil leaves (fresh is better)
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
Place all smoothie ingredients in your blender and blend until the basil leaves are minced into tiny pieces and enjoy.
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I was off to Michigan for a few days and forgot to take a photo of my lunch.  Don't worry it was nothing special.  Olive Garden unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks. I love that meal.  The soup is comforting and the salad is healthy.  The breadsticks are just well...amazing.  I refrained from eating more than one.

My dinner was in Ann Arbor at Zingerman's Roadhouse.  It is also amazing.  A completely different amazing than the breadsticks from Olive Garden.  I always thought in my travels to Ann Arbor that this was just a deli place.  Big Jewish Deli style sandwiches.  Although good, I live near New York City. I don't travel to Michigan to get a sandwich. I found though that this is only one of the many Zingerman's branches.  The Zingerman's Roadhouse is a restaurant featuring southern cuisine. 

I seriously wanted the corn dogs. But I also wanted to try the BBQ which was highly recommended, and the sweet potato fries, and the mac and cheese. You get the picture.

After some bargaining with the waiter and my co-worker I managed to get the pulled pork platter with bacon braised greens and sweet potato fries with a side of mac and cheese.

It was amazing like I said.  The pork was incredibly tender and flavorful.  The sweet potato fries were more like gigantic wedges with sea salt.  The mac and cheese would make you drop to your knees. It was so rich; I couldn't imagine having more than this little plate.  We shared and I still couldn't finish it off. 

Want to know why it is even greater.  When we were leaving one of the hostesses was going around to those waiting offering cookie samples.  I heart any places that gives out cookie samples to those waiting for dinner. I only wish I wasn't too full to snag a bite.

If you are in Ann Arbor I highly recommend this place.   

I may have also hit up the Great Harvest for a loaf of bread and cookie. The man I spoke with was so tickled that I come there for bread. We had a nice conversation about the different colored rewards punch cards. Ann Arbor's is hot pink. Love.  Connecticut's is yellow. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheddar Ale Dip

For some reason my posts lately have been missing sweets. I think it is because we have be nibbling on chocolate lately for our sweet treats. A bite of chocolate makes me so happy, I never need anything else. But chocolate also means no baking.  I miss it though so it shall be returning soon.

This post though has nothing to do with chocolate or sweets.  It has cheese and beer.  Not a bad trade off.

I run the birthday celebrations at work each month.  I try not to always have the typical cake.  We have had ice cream treats and cookie sandwiches. This month though two of the birthday folks requested chips and dip.  Personally, I would never have this to celebrate my birthday but hey it wasn't MY birthday. 

I got salsa and onion dip but I wanted to have a few more unique options to serve. I found this one on BrownEyedBaker and was sold.  You throw everything into a blender or food processor and combined. I made it in advance. My first tasting was right after I made it and I was a bit disappointed with the cheddar flavor. It wasn't very strong.  Wait two days though and it was much more powerful. It was a huge hit with everyone in the office.

Cheddar Ale Dip

by Emily Morris

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream, and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley until just dispersed.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refrigerate.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Super Duper Excited!

Secret Recipe Club

Today is super exciting for me today because it is my first post for The Secret Recipe Club.  Each month we are assigned a blog secretly and pick a recipe from that blog to recreate.  On reveal day every one shares their blog and the dish.  I love surprises so this is right up my alley.

This month I had Lauren at Healthy. Delicious.  Like me Lauren has been cooking quite a long time.  Her blog highlights meals and dishes that are healthy and delicious.  I love her motto, "Before I eat anything, I try to ask myself “is this delicious?” because if it isn’t delicious, it isn’t worth eating."

I wanted to get Mr. J involved in the process so the initial plan was to have him go through Healthy. Delicious. too and see what he wanted to make.  However, plans changed after the first day I went a looking and saw the recipe for Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese.

Not only did is sound amazing, but the pictures were so tempting.  I also had like a billzion random peppers from the garden that were starting to go.  We were definitely making this recipe.  It was a pretty easy pitch to Mr. J too. He thought it sounded fantastic.

What also turned out really nice was that you can make the whole dish in only two pots.  One to cook the pasta and one to make the sauce. 

A yummy meal with few dishes is a winner to me.

Seriously this cheesy sauce was like heaven. I didn't a little finger sample taste test and almost grabbed spoon right then and there to chow down.  Honestly this could be the most delicious cheese dip ever. I am going to remember come football season.

The recipe below is straight from Healthy. Delicious.

We doubled the batch to make leftovers and leftovers we did have.  We also ramped up the quantity of peppers due to the fact we had so many begging to be used.  Everything else remained the same.

This was the perfect Sunday night meal. It was easy to put together and didn't have a mess. It also was extremely flavorful and filling.  Plus, lunch for Monday was all ready to go as well.

Thanks Lauren for such a great meal!  I cannot wait for next month to come around.

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 4 ounces dry Radiatore or other small, ridged pasta (elbow or shell shapes also work well)
  • 1 slice Bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced Red Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 8 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Reduced Fat Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Add the bacon, if using, to a wide bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook until crisp — about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving behind any drippings, and drain on a paper towel.

Add the onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook until softened — about 3 minutes. (If not using bacon, cook the onions and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil instead.) Add the jalapenos and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Slowly stir in the Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses, adding a little at a time and letting it melt completely before adding more. Stir in the cream cheese. Mix in the crumbled bacon, if using.

Combine the cooked pasta and cheese in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs over the top. Broil 3-5 minutes, or until bread crumb topping is crispy and golden brown.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Brunch

Sunday is relaxing day. I like to wake up early and have a quiet cup of coffee.  Then a trip to the gym; it makes me feel accomplished and ready to tackle the day, even on the weekends. 

Finally, I like to brunch.  Sunday is all about the brunch.

Here are some of my favorite brunch items.


Quick Breads: Be sure to jazz up these classic recipes with chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, and coconut

Eggs:  Apparently I need to be better about posting egg dishes because I have zero listed in my searchable recipes. Thus, I recommend quiche.

Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, Broccoli, and Bacon are all good additions.

If quiche is too much try this veggie egg scramble.



 Hello Morning!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Edition: Sunflowers

Pretty sunflowers.  This is pure summer.  Mr. J likes to get into all of my photos right before I take them.  He came out with me this morning to have a gander at all of the peppers.

Take #2

Here are the crazy pepper and basil plants I have been talking about.  I just don't know what to do. I am sure next year I will get way less plants remembering this craziness. 

Can you see all of the peppers hidden in there?  At one point we had 30 on one plant.  Good thing we like hot foods. I have been adding one or two to every meal we make.

This is one of seven basil plants.  Seriously they are little bushes.  Do you have any ideas on what I can make with this much basil?  And trust me, the freezer is already stocked full of pesto.

Here is what I was up to this week:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday's Five: New Cookbooks

There seems to be a mad rush of cookbooks being released this fall and I for one want them all. 
Jenny is a blogger with a blog of the same title.  She and her husband, Andy,  cook dinner for their family every night. 

This cookbook goes into the simple strategies and common sense, Jenny uses on how to break down dinner—the food, the timing, the anxiety, from prep to cleanup—so that her family could enjoy good food, time to unwind, and simply be together.

This books is all about cookies, cakes and candies.  Lots of love, fun and color line the pages.

Another blogger turned cookbook writer, Alice Currah knows that the food we share with the people we love is more than just what we eat. Whether it's a leisurely weekend morning coffee cake, a birthday banana cream pie, chocolate chip cookies after a well-played soccer game, or a refreshing strawberry lemonade at a summer backyard barbecue, life's simplest moments can create the most meaningful family memories.  

Create your own delicious memories all through the year with 100 easy-to-make—and many all-new—recipes, organized by occasion and captured in full-color photographs to celebrate your own "life happenings."

Food blogger Lindsay Landis has invented the perfect cookie dough. It tastes great. It’s egg free (and thus safe to eat raw). You can whip it up in minutes. And, best of all, you can use it to make dozens of delicious cookie dough creations, from cakes, custards, and pies to candies, brownies, and even granola bars.

Have heard of the Smitten Kitchen blog?  Of course you have.  Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. Cooking in her tiny Manhattan kitchen was, at least at first, for special occasions—and, too often, an unnecessarily daunting venture. Deb found herself overwhelmed by the number of recipes available to her. Have you ever searched for the perfect birthday cake on Google?

Her award-winning blog is based on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . .  every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes.

Are you hungry yet?  Grab a book and get cooking!

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