Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Foodie Penpals

Early in January, I was messing around on Twitter, when I noticed a tweet from Courtney about something called Foodie Penpals. A little more clicking led me to Lindsay's site and the rest of the details. And then I signed up nearly immediately - this sounded like way too much fun!

Here are the details:

-You sign up by sending Lindsay an email (at theleangreenbean@gmail.com) with your full name,  email address, blog/website address and twitter handle (if applicable). This month you would need to let her know by February 4th if you want to participate.

-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. 

Okay on to the good stuff! This month I got my box of goodies from Elizabeth at Don't (White) Sugar-Coat It. Here's what she sent, all the way from Texas:

(As you can see from the background, it arrived on a snow-filled day!)

The box contained a nice note on a postcard, some delicious smoky chipotle sauce (for some Texas-style heat), a dark chocolate bar with pink peppercorns (fancy!), cranberry mango salsa, olive tortilla chips, and some packets of stevia. We have enjoyed these treats all so much! The chocolate tastes almost like I would imagine a chocolate spice cake would taste like, that is: delicious! Gabbie has been fighting me for those chips. They are seriously good. The salsa is also delicious, and I think I'm going to use some for a chicken dish next week. 

All in all, this was a lot of fun, and I already signed up for next month. Thanks for putting together such a fun exchange, Lindsay!

(If you want to see what I sent to my Foodie Penpal, head over to Debbie's site!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.30.12

I was so busy last week that I felt like the week actually ate me. Needless to say, there was no meal planning, there was only fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants, last minute, what the hell are we going to eat tonight kind of dinners. Turns out, that's super stressful!

We're doing better this week, I swear it.

Here's what we're eating this week (weekdays only, we're undecided about plans for the weekend, so I'm not planning anything as of right now):

Monday: Ravioli Soup, Salad, Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Butternut Squash with Coconut Milk and Curry, Rice, Naan, Fruit
Wednesday: Mongolian Beef, Steamed Broccoli, Rice (making a double batch the night before)
Thursday: Tomato, Basil, Parmesan Soup, Salad, Bread
Friday: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans, Salad

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.16.12

I have the day off work today, and the girls are at daycare, so I'm going to make this quick to take full advantage of this alone time.

Monday: Lasagna Soup, Salad

I'm adding zucchini to the soup for a little extra vegetable, and leaving off the toasts.

Tuesday: Spicy Pop Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw

We were all drooling a little when watching the new episode of The Pioneer Woman's show this past Saturday and she made this. I'm going to do it in the crock pot and perhaps leave out a few of the peppers.

Wednesday: Eggplant Casserole

I bought an eggplant because it looked pretty, and then I found this delicious-looking recipe in which to use it.

Thursday: Chicago Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries, Cole Slaw

This is among Aaron's favorite dinners, and is super quick and easy.

Friday: Pizza, Chopped Salad

I have half a jar of pizza sauce left from last Friday, so I'm doing pizza again this Friday. I love this Friday night tradition of homemade pizza.

Saturday: Beef Bourgignon, bread, salad

I've always wanted to make this, and so I've determined that this is the week to do so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.9.12

This week sees me putting the final touches on a project that has been all-encompassing since the spring. I've been part of a team at work that is writing a 2nd edition of a book, and even though the whole 2nd edition thing makes it sound not too bad, it has been a LOT of writing, editing, and graphic designing. I think the whole, nearing the end point, but still having a ton to do between now and the end thing is making me hungry for comfort foods, which is definitely reflected in our plan for this week's meals.

Monday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

When I was planning out our meals yesterday, I asked Gabbie what she thought of having grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner tonight. Her face lit up and she said, "That sounds delicious!" (Dollars to donuts she eats exactly two bites of each before declaring her belly is full, and then five minutes later she will declare she's hungry again, but not for dinner.)

Tuesday: Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce, Salad, Fruit

I've been craving a baked pasta dish, but I didn't want something super heavy. This sounds like it will fit the bill perfectly!

Wednesday: Balsamic Roasted Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Steamed Broccoli

This is the only meal we didn't get to on our list last week. I just didn't have the time. Then we were going to have it this weekend, but the chicken is taking forever to thaw in our (apparently very cold) refrigerator. I hope that, by Wednesday, we'll be good to go.

Thursday: Tacos, Salad, Fruit

This is Aaron's addition to the meal plan this week. I asked him if there was anything he wanted, and he replied, "Tacos. Straight up." Easy enough. He gets his wish.

Friday: Potato Skins, Salad, Fruit

A while back, Food Network Magazine had an article where they created a different potato skin recipe to represent each team in the NFL in celebration for the Superbowl. My favorite was the Southwestern Nachos version (using Margaritaville salsa), whereas Aaron strongly preferred the Coney Dog version. I'm pretty sure the girls would prefer theirs with just melted cheese and sour cream, and perhaps a little bacon.

Saturday: Pasties, Steamed Green Beans

It's that comfort food time of year, and these are the ultimate comfort food for both Aaron and me. These take quite a while to put together, but thankfully the recipe makes a lot so I can freeze more than half and have pasties on hand for a while.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Meal Planning 1.2.12

Today is the last day of my 11 straight days off of work, and I am growing increasingly sad about this. I think that calls for a warm, homey meal tonight and quick, easy meals for the rest of the week, don't you?

Here's what we're eating this week!

Monday: Clean out the fridge soup, a salad, and pretzel rolls

We have so many little bits of leftovers from the past week or so, and they are just begging to be added to a big pot of soup. This one will probably contain: chicken and apple sausages, diced tomatoes in juice, chicken stock, red and green peppers, diced onion, carrots, celery, garlic, beans, and rice or pasta to be added at the end.

Tuesday: Spicy Thai Noodles, steamed broccoli

I pinned these a while ago and have been wanting to eat them ever since. This is my week!

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Salad

From The Pioneer Woman. I think that about says it all.

Thursday: Brinner

I think we'll be having breakfast burritos for brinner this week: eggs, sausage, peppers, onions, salsa, hash browns, and cheddar all wrapped up in a flour tortilla (or separated out for the kiddos).

Friday: Homemade pepperoni pizza, raw vegetables and fruit

We have some sandwich-sized pepperoni, which I think will be fun on this pizza. On mine I'll add either black olives or tomatoes and banana peppers.

Saturday: Balsamic Roasted Chicken, basic parmesan risotto, steamed broccoli

Sunday: Leftovers

We've been doing a big breakfast on Sundays as our main meal, and then snacking or eating leftovers the rest of the day. This is how my mom did things when I was growing up, and it seems to be a nice way to round out the weekend. I understand why she did this now. :)

And now that I'm all done typing this, I'm starving. Good thing it's just about lunch time!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Food Goals 2012

Happy New Year! I am having a hard time believing that 2012 is here already! 

I took the week between Christmas and New Year off, meaning that as of tomorrow I will have been off work for 11 days straight, which has been wonderful, and has also given me a lot of time to think and plan for this coming year. In that vein, I have a few food/blog goals for this year, and here they are!

Blog Goals:

1. Blog here (and at my other site) three times per week. Three times a week here will probably include: a menu plan, one thing I've baked, and one recipe I've made recently. This will allow me to share some of the fantastic things I've made over the past year and ongoing, like this easy and delicious soup, which I would make and eat every week if my family didn't like more variety:

2. Work on an idea I've had for a while that combines two of my favorite things: data collection and finding/planning meals. I'm pretty excited about this possible side business that I want to pilot test soon. (My data/research geek is showing, isn't it?)

Food Goals:

This year, I want to make from scratch:
1. Ricotta/Paneer
2. An Indian meal (including naan)
3. The perfect Tom Yum Gai (Thai chicken soup, that I love) 
4. Pho
5. Fresh noodles
6. My own sausage
7. Corn tortillas
8. Cheesecake 
9. Granola bars
10. Crackers

I have found all sorts of energy and motivation over the past week, which as probably coincided with completing two HUGE projects at work just before I left for the holiday, and I can't wait to tackle 2012 with renewed excitement and hunger!


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