Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Foodie Penpal

This month, I joined a Foodie Penpal program from The Lean Green Bean and the last day of the each month is always 'reveal day' where we share what we received and sent. What a fabulous idea it is... sharing your favorite goodies with other people across the nation! The package I shipped out went to New York to Gastronomic Nomad, so be sure and check out what they had to say about what we sent. It was their first month in the program too!

foodie penpal

Since this is the first month I participated, I learned some important things just from what I received, and what made it intact! My package came from The Healthy Living Chick, and included a great variety of items. A couple didn't make it, but the ones that did were FABulous!

foodie penpal

While, we enjoy all the items sent, I have to feature the favorites! The Zevia soda was a great surprise for me because we had just found them on sale at our local Kroger and got the Root Beer ourselves, and the Cola version was sent in our package! We are NOT pop drinkers, but it was so good! Ooh, and that Ritter Sport chocolate with almonds was crazy good. We chopped some up for on top of vanilla ice cream.. WOW!

foodie penpal

Well, the ice cream got what was left after 'someone' sampled a bite or two...

foodie penpal

The Archer Farms granola was breakfast this morning on some maple yogurt. Yum! I'll definitely be checking out our Target to see what other flavors are available.

foodie penpal

Now for the fine print and details about Foodie Penpals... ALL the details can be found on their website, though.
* On the 5th of every month, you receive your penpal via email. You contact your penpal to get their mailing address and any other information you might need to determine what to send.
* You have until the 15th of the month to get your goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month (reveal day), you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal.
* Boxes should be filled with fun foodie things like local food items, homemade treats, and favorites. The spending limit is $15 and must also include something written like a note or recipe. Shipping appropriately is up to you!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Party

So, this is rough to admit, but due to my 'issues' with sand, this was my daughter's first real trip to the beach. She had an amazing time playing in the water and the surf, with the rocks, seaweed, and shells, and yes, especially in the sand! We went through some pictures and talked about the beach today while have a lunch inspired by our day.

beach day bento lunch
Blue Ramen noodles, Life Saver gummy, Trader Joe's roasted seaweed, Goldfish crackers, breaded chicken skewer, cucumber and bell pepper starfish, and Brown Cow maple yogurt with grapes and brown sugar 'sand'.
beach day

beach day

In this lunch...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin

The London 2012 Summer Olympics begin today, so that was the obvious inspiration for lunch! The fabulous peeps from Bento Bloggers and Friends did an Olympic hop today, which I sadly managed to miss out on due to my laziness busy schedule, but be sure and check out the hop, starting here! They have some insanely fabulous lunches!

olympic bento lunch
Carrot coins, cucumber rings, salami and turkey skewers, rings of green grapes (under melons), watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, and grilled cheddar cheese sandwich with Olympic rings in Swiss cheese.
In this lunch...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chicks Day Out

It was such a beautiful day today, so we decided to have a girls day out. We ran a couple errands after breakfast and spent the rest of the afternoon at the Children's Zoo, which we are fortunate enough to have just 5 minutes away from our house! For our 'chicks' day out, we packed a lunch and were on our way! I just threw the scraps in a bag for me and ate up what she left behind from hers and it worked out great! I just love days like this!

chick egg bento lunch
Cherry tomatoes, carrots, parsley, salami, hard boiled eggs, mild cheddar cheese, smoked Gouda cheese, veggie straws, NatureBox dried apples & peaches, and Blueberry Muffin Larabar heart.

In this lunch...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe Review - Toffee Cheesecake Minis

If you like cheesecake and toffee, you will LOVE these. They are absolutely as sinful as they sound, and every bit as delicious as they look! They are super simple and because they are individual servings, its a wee bit easier to ration them out. And because we wanted to share with everyone, we linked up to a fabulous recipe linky party at The Better Baker's Weekend Potluck! In fact we are honored to be featured there with this yummy recipe (see the linky button at bottom). Enjoy!

Toffee Cheesecake Minis

mini toffee cheesecake

Ingredients - 18-20 Vanilla wafer cookies (I encourage you to go for Nilla Wafers), 3-8oz cream cheese blocks (softened), 3/4 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 cup Heath Bits O' Brickle Toffee Bits plus 9-10tsp more for topping (find these in the baking aisle with chocolate chips.. definitely get the toffee bits NOT the chocolate/toffee bits).

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18-20 muffin cups with paper lines. Put one vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of each cup.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla to blend. Stir in 1 cup toffee bits. Spoon batter into muffin cups to 1/4" or so from the top. This will make anywhere from 18-20 depending on how you spoon it out.

mini toffee cheesecake

Bake 20-25 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a 1/2 tsp toffee bits onto each individual cheesecake. Cool in pan. Don't worry if the center sinks a little. Remove, cover loosely, and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Enjoy!

mini toffee cheesecake

weekend potluck feature

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pizza Pie!

Have you tried Momables yet? You should! While full access to menus, shopping lists, and extras requires membership, they do have a load of free information available on their site too. One of the fantastic things I think they are working on is something they call "Lunchbox Wars" where they compare Lunchables versions of lunches to similar healthy, delicious, homemade versions. I made a version of this for my husband to take to work, as well as one for my daughter. I like the fact that this works well with any sort of pizza toppings you like, so we added mushrooms, peppers, and black olives to ours. To view the pizza post on Momables, visit here and to see the original contributor of the DIY pizza visit Bent On Better Lunches!

pizza bento lunch
Kiddo's lunch - Whole grain sandwich thin pie wedges, fresh shredded mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni, black olives, sliced cubanelle peppers, pizza sauce in container, and strawberries.

pizza bento lunch
Hubby's lunch - Whole grain sandwich thins, fresh shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms, turkey pepperoni, pizza sauce in container, and fruit snacks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Recipe Review - Creamy Corn Mac n' Cheese

O.M.G. this stuff is delicious! I love macaroni and cheese and do have 2 recipes that are in rotation at our house, but this is by far the easiest and most delicious that we've tried. Hands down! The recipe is originally from The Food Network, with some tweaks of our own. Keep in mind that you can use sharp or mild cheddar, and you can substitute Monterrey Jack for the mozzarella if you prefer, but it is worth the wee bit of time it takes to shred the cheese yourself versus buying already shredded. You can't go wrong! I promise! And who knew you could make a mac n' cheese like this without a roux!

Creamy Corn Mac n' Cheese 
creamed corn mac and cheese
Ingredients - 2-8oz cans creamed corn, 1 cup milk (whole if possible), 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1 Tbsp (heaping) cornstarch, salt, pepper, hot sauce (Sriracha preferred), 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, 4 oz freshly grated mild cheddar, 4 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar, 12 oz freshly grated mozzarella, 1 egg, lightly beaten, 1 1/2 cups croutons (garlic butter is a good one), 1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and move one grate to the top of the oven. Boil water for elbow noodles.

Simmer creamed corn, milk, and onion powder. Combine cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl to dissolve. Cook pasta al dente. While pasta is cooking, add cornstarch mixture to the corn and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until it starts to thicken! Season with salt and pepper. You can also add a few dashes of hot sauce at this point too if you want. We always serve ours on the side so individuals can control the heat!

Drain cooked pasta well and combine with corn mixture. Add all the shredded cheddar, egg, and half the shredded mozzarella, and stir. Pour into a 4 cup casserole dish. Cover with the remaining mozzarella. Roughly crush the croutons and combine with olive oil. Add to the top of the macaroni and cheese.

creamed corn mac and cheese

Bake on the top rack until golden, 15-20 minutes. Serve with Sriracha drizzled on top (or on the side).

creamed corn mac and cheese


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

EleFUNt Lunch

I asked what animal was wanted for lunch, and surprisingly, it was elephants! Done! We have 'pickles' growing in the garden now, so we added some of those to this lunch too. While I have a tried and true cucumber eater, when they are in our garden, she insists they are pickles. Delicious no matter what you call them, but how neat would it be to really have pickles hanging on a vine fresh for you to pick? Yum!

elephant bento lunch
Top tier has a grilled cheese on rye and white toast, swiss cheese, lettuce, black olives, carrots, and cucumber (from the garden), watermelon, grapes, Brown Cow vanilla yogurt, and NatureBox Organic Mighty Mix (nuts, seeds, and dried fruits).

Eats Amazing World Book Day Linkies

In this lunch...