A GOOD day and Coupon Giveaway :)

22 Jul

Today was a GOOD day! 🙂  I started out the day with a super sweet breakfast.  I had light chocolate Silk soymilk, a cup of strawberry-chocolate Yoplus yogurt mousse (adapted from Julie), basically strawberry yogurt with a heaping spoon of chocolate yogurt powder mixed in- chocolate overload! But the yogurt mousse was REALLY good!  I really was planning on having an egg too, but I didn’t have time before I had to run off to teach my summer piano students.  I ate all this sweetness while I poured over my food blogs and found out the following good news:

–> I won a food blog giveaway  from Lil’ Veggie Patch for a $40.00 CSNstores.com giftcard!! Yay! I was SO excited!

—->>>BTW, you can still win one too, from Graze With Me Blog! Click here to enter!

As I mentioned, I ran off to teach piano lessons to two adorable little boys for and hour and a half, then ran back home for lunch. On the way home I ate one of these:

It’s a FiberOne 90 Calorie bar.  I picked up two boxes of them at Target because they were so freaking cheap!  Like $1.65 a box!

I got the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor.  They’re just okay- flavor somehow reminds me of popcorn cakes with a little caramel and chocolate. They have chocolate chunks on top, and a pb icing on the bottom.  I didn’t really taste too much pb in there. 😦 I wouldn’t buy these again at regular price, but I might be tempted if I found them on clearance this cheap again!

When I got home I made this delicious salad with lots of leftovers:

Mixed spinach with tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled egg, garlic hummus, guacamole, green salsa and some chia sprinkled on top!

Hubby surprised me by asking for a salad too (He thinks salad is rabbit food). I also put a pound of dried chickpeas in my red crockpot to cook up for future hummus and chickpea recipes!  Mmmm….

After lunch I spent some time finishing laundry and mopping the floors.  Exciting, I know, but somebody’s gotta do it! The good thing is now the house smells clean and fresh!  I LOVE that smell of clean!

Around four I ran off to the gym for my strength training session- I worked on lower body exercises for about fifty minutes, then popped into an already in session Zumba class for about 15 minutes.  I always work up a sweat quickly in that class, and it really stretched out my sore muscles! I could feel every muscle in my legs and ankles as I salsa-ed it up for those 15 minutes!

I had a REALLY Green Monster when I came home from the gym, sprinkled chia on top.

It had 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 4 frozen strawberries, 3/4 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 2 handfuls of spinach. I sprinkled the top with chia. (I’m trying to figure out everyday uses for the seed. It might make a nice thickener in smoothies)

Now since today has been SO awesome for me, I’d like to make somebody’s day as well with my first giveaway!

It’s not much, but I have two booklets of great coupons for natural and organic products from Mambo Sprouts. They have some great coupons like $1 off Organic Clifkid Zbars, .50 cents off a thinkTHin bar, and $1 off of tofuplus.

If you’d like a chance to get 2 of these coupon booklets, all you have to do is post a comment on what food product you wish you had a coupon for!

For an additional entry, link back to this giveaway from your blog in a separate comment. You have until Friday at 12:00 noon to enter!

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Experimenting with ingredients!

21 Jul

I’d like  to share a few recipes that I’ve tried the last couple of weeks during my summer break.  I’ve been experimenting with ingredients that I’ve never used in cooking before. Thanks to my recent voracious reading of food blogs during the summer I’ve had no limit to the creative food presented to me!

One new ingredient I’ve tried is Millet.  Originally when I heard the word “millet” I thought of the suet cakes that my mom used to feed the wild birds, and the millet sprays I would give my parakeets when I was a teenager.  I wasn’t aware you could actually eat the stuff!  Thanks to Momma Pea I have a newly found use and interest in the grain.

I researched this new ingredient and found that according to Wikepedia: “Millets are major food sources in arid and semi-arid regions of the world, and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others.” Apparently it is also eaten as a type of porridge in Russian, Chinese and German cuisines. Wow, and I thought it was only for the birds!

These Banana Chocolate Chip Millet Muffins caught my eye on her blog, and that’s what first led me to try millet in my diet. But first I had to track some down (found it in the bulk food bins at my local health store!) and wait for my bananas to ripen (boo!)

Finally I made them, and I have to say, they were quite tasty, with just a little crunch due to the millet flour.

Tonight I made her Corn and Millet Pudding with my leftover millet from the muffins.  I had a few mishaps while making it.  The bottom of my blender wasn’t screwed on tight so it came off and spilled corn millet pudding all over the counter! 😦  I scooped up what I could (hey, my counters are clean!) and put it in the oven!  It was quite tasty too, reminding me of cream corn, with a little crunch, but much healthier than that canned stuff!

I served the corn pudding with this marinated, grilled chicken breast & toasted corn tortillas,

Guacamole,

and frijoles a la charra (mexican pinto beans)

Frijoles a La Charra Recipe

– 1 lb. dried pinto beans

– 4 slices turkey bacon(or regular bacon for more flavor), cut in small pieces

-1 bunch cilantro, chopped

-2 roma tomatoes, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 jalapeno (add more or less depending on how much spice you can handle), chopped

– salt

I start out by rinsing the beans and covering them with water in my crockpot, set to “low”, along with a teaspoon of baking soda.  That’s my secret to the beans.  The baking soda releases some of the gas in the beans (we all want that!) and also helps them to soften up as they cook.  After about 4-5 hours, or until beans are almost to desired tenderness, add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.

Add four pieces of chopped up bacon, chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic, chopped jalapeno, and salt to taste and let cook 1-2 hours more, until flavors have blended together.

It’s not a very exact recipe, I just add more/less of ingredients as needed according to my taste.  I usually use bacon and a couple of teaspoons of bacon grease, but I was trying to make a little healthier, and pork free version today.

In other recent new, look what I scored at my local Health Food Store, “Sun Harvest”  on my last grocery run!

I got all of this for only $20.00!

What I got for $20!   2 lb. dried pinto beans, toasted coconut flakes, 2lbs raw almonds, Chia seed, 1 lb. brussel sprouts, white peaches, green grapes, 2 lb. broccoli crowns, 2 lbs. roma tomatoes, bag of spinach (not pictured), 1 lb. block of cheddar cheese, and a bottle of “Nika” water (I liked the bottle too much!)

So colorful, and the proceeds go 100% to poverty alleviation!

I usually only buy produce that is on sale at the grocery, or specialty items, so I found a lot of awesome deals this time around.

– Roma tomatoes, .88 cents a pound

-White Peaches, .99 cents a pound

-Green Grapes, .99 cents a pound

– Bag of Chia Seed, $4.99, marked down from $7.50!  (Can’t wait to try this superfood, thanks to Katie and other foodies!)

I’ll be posting later this week some of my other new cooking experiences! 🙂

Please chime in with your two cents on what you would like to see featured in my blog.  Are grocery buys interesting, budget tips, recipes, food reviews,  food diary, workout schedule? Let me know what you want to see!

Fruit Overload!

17 Jul

Since life has been a little topsy-turvy lately due to some life-altering changes, like my new puppy, and my MIL moving in with us for a while after her surgery(oops, forgot to mention that, huh?).   Anyway, because of all the potentially “negative” (think patience-trying) things that come with these changes, I have decided to focus on the POSITIVE in my life.

This is actually only a small portion of the fruit that has been in our house this week!

– We have been given a LOT of fruit.  Think truckloads!  I exaggerate, more like basketfuls of fruit!  We actually had about 5 big bunches of bananas on our counter during the last week! Plums galore, oranges, strawberries, kiwis, pears, and cherries!  That’s not even counting the 4 papayas we (well, my MIL) were given!   I appreciate the bananas, etc, but I’m not a big fan of the papaya- I tried it once and it tasted like poo. Anyone have any papaya tips to share?

I froze a bunch of bananas for smoothies, and I’m planning to make some type of banana bread tomorrow.  I also plan on using them to make this for dessert tonight! (I know I’ve seen this on some food blogs I read- but couldn’t remember whose)

* I think I’m a pretty patient person. You HAVE to be when you teach Kinder through fifth graders.  But this summer’s experience is teaching me to be a little more patient and, dare I say it, *GASP, less selfish.  I didn’t think I was selfish, but challenges show you sides of yourself you didn’t know you had.  :-/

* Hubby’s Mom gave a gift I definitely wasn’t expecting.  She ordered us a Bullet Express Trio from a tv infomercial! She said it was a gift for our 2 year anniversary since she knew we (actually “I”) like to cook.  It was super sweet of her as it was not a cheap gift! Its a food processor, blender, and juicer all-in-one!  Well sort-of, because it has a lot of parts you have to switch out to use each different process. It has a LOT of parts and takes up a whole cabinet on its own, so initially the machine is very overwhelming!  Its still pretty neat, so I’ll be posting a review on it once I try all of its uses.  I’m pretty excited about the food processor attachment because I don’t have one, just a little tiny chopper. Last night we made fresh juice with the juicer attachment- cantaloupe juice and orange juice.  It was AWESOME, but cleaning the juicer not so much…  I tried making a smoothie in the blender, it came out super creamy, but didn’t blend the harder frozen ingredients very well, it took it a couple minutes.  Today I tried making hummus, and it came out super creamy and smooth.  I can’t wait to try all the attachments!

I’ll be back soon to let you know how all my “fruity” recipes turn out! 🙂

Bored?  Here are some awesome giveaways going on at some other food blogs!

-$40 CSN giftcard courtesy of Lil’ Veggie Patch

– Free Cookbook from The Broccoli Hut

GO NOW!

A few of my favorite things, part II

14 Jul

So in continuation of my last post, here are some more of my favorite kitchen appliances!

3.) Keurig Coffee Machine-

This was a Christmas gift from my parents two years ago.  When we visited them, we enjoyed their Keurig so much they decided to gift us one during the holidays.  Hubby actually uses this more than me- most of the time he has a cup or two per day.  This machine runs on coffee “pods” that come in many flavors. You just pop one in the machine, close the lid and press a button, and you’re literally seconds away from a tasty brewed cup of joe!   Our favorite flavors are Green Mountain Coffee’s French Vanilla and Breakfast Blend. If you’re a “green” consumer and worried about the amount of waste created by using the plastic pods- a cap is available where you can re-use the pods and fill them with your own coffee. The price ranges from $70 to $200 depending on how many features and brewing amounts you want.

From the website: “The Keurig brewing system offers gourmet coffee drinkers a top quality, coffee house cup of coffee with the convenience of brewing immediately in your own kitchen. It makes a fine cup of coffee in under a minute and takes away all the guesswork from brewing a consistently great cup of coffee.The Keurig single-cup brewing system uses a special packaging for coffee, tea, and hot cocoa called K-Cups. Each K-Cup is an airtight, mini-brewer that locks out oxygen, light, moisture, and humidity while locking in freshness and flavor.”

PROS: super fast, tasty coffee- far better than my school lounge’s coffee. There are a HUGE variety of flavors to choose from including Coffee House brands like Caribou Coffee and Donut House.  You can’t beat the convenience!

CONS: Pods are not cheap- they cost approx. .50 cents a 10 oz. cup. (not too bad compared to buying a cup at the gas station or SBUX every day) The hot chocolate and tea pods are worthless- they are flavor-less, as the machine dispenses the water through the pods so fast they don’t have time to “brew.”

4.)Rolling Garlic Chopper-

This little guy I picked up recently at target for $9.99.  His cute little round body and lime green and black wheel were just too cute- but don’t be deceived my his cute exterior, inside he’s full of spinning blades of garlic death!  I bought this on a whim, but it does work very nicely for chopping fresh garlic, when you want small, uniform pieces.  You can fit about 1-2 cloves a garlic at a time inside, and with a few rolls on the countertop you’re left with a couple teaspoons of fresh minced garlic!  I should mention its fun to use to.  Clean-up is not bad either, just open the top, pop out the blade and rinse the sphere with some water, and you’re done!

These are a few of my favorite things! part I

13 Jul

Happy Tuesday! I would have posted yesterday, but I was summoned for jury duty (during my summer vacation!)- so I spent the morning in court.  I have to go back next Monday for my actual assignment- hopefully it doesn’t last too long or I won’t get to go on my short vacay to visit my parents in Michigan!

For today’s post I thought I would share a few of my all time favorite kitchen appliances and utensils that the crafty-foodie- musician uses all the time. This is part I of a series of posts giving my favorite kitchen appliances.

1.) Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker!

This is an all-time favorite! Growing up, whenever my Grandma would host get-togethers for the whole family she would whip out her Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker and make gallon after gallon of her (super) sweet tea.  We little ones loved the artificial sugary goodness and sucked it down, since tea is considered an “adult” drink.  That is one thing I could always expect, and still do whenever I go visit my grandmother in Ohio. My mom used to make sun tea when I was little, but when I was in my teens my mom purchased the tea maker as well. You just can’t beat the convenience and almost instant gratification of it! The best part about it is it only costs $17. at Walmart!  (*note: I’m not being endorsed to review this product, I just use it all the time!)

So naturally when I got out on my own I HAD to have one to make my very own tea. Hubby LOVES this- he’s still being weaned off of flavored beverages (namely diet pepsi) so its nice to have a healthier alternative! I use two parts black tea to 1 part green tea. You can adjust how strong the tea is brewed by moving a knob on the front of the machine.

2.) George Foreman Grill-

This amazing contraption is a life saver when it comes to  eating healthy on busy days!  It heats up quickly, cooks food without added grease, and at cooks food at lightning speeds! (about 7-10 minutes average)  Definitely a much better option than the microwave!  It’s not just for meat either, it can easily be used to grill vegetables also! I recommend giving it a try.  Also, I think it’s worth spending a little extra to get the grill with detachable plates.  SO much easier to clean!

I will post some more favorites tomorrow, but in the mean time,

–>What is your FAVORITE kitchen appliance or utensil?

Mooo! (How far would you go for FREE food?)

11 Jul

So how far would you go for some free chicken?  or more specifically for some FREE Chic-fil-A?  Would you dress like a cow?  I did!

Friday was “Cow Appreciation” Day.  How many of you hugged a bovine? 😉  Chic-fil-A was celebrating by giving away free meals to anyone who came dressed like their mascot, a cow!  (cowgirl voice) Well I done roped a couple friends into joining me, along with their little heifers to come on down and get some free grub!

I had donned a cow mask and spots back in July 2008, when I was bored, hubby was at work and I wanted some free chicken, so I went all by my lonesome.  This year was much more fun!

Me, 2008

Me this year: a more natural cow

My friend Hannah and her little boy Karsten came with me and our other friend Hannah (it gets confusing sometimes!) and her baby girl, Bethany, came along too.  The restaurant was packed and the drive-thru line wrapped all the way around the building, almost into the street.  I guess us valley folks gotta have our chicken! It was worth it to get all that juicy, succulent chicken though!  Even the baby was given a free kids meal (and he’s too young to eat it!) =more nuggets for his mommy!

My FREE meal! I got their original chicken sandwich, waffle fries and diet coke.  Not all that healthy, I know, but hey it WAS my free food day!

I’m so glad they went with me because my hubby thinks I’m crazy, and a cheapskate when I go all out for free food.  I tried to get him to go backwith me for dinner, but he told me to moooove on. 😉

So let me know, how far would you/will you go to get FREE food?

AND, what was the best thing you ever got for FREE?

A Taste For Something New

10 Jul

So last night I baked Mama Pea‘s Banana Chocolate Chip Millet Muffins!  Ever since she posted it I’ve been hunkering for a taste of banana and chocolate.  So I waited, and waited, and waited for my bananas to get ripe. At least that’s the way it felt, usually I complain that my bananas ripen too fast in this hot and humid Texas heat.

I won’t bother you with the details since she already did a picture tutorial.  All I can say is, DELISH! I loved the slightly crunchy texture of the millet flour.  The food critics tasted them: me, the hubby, and the MIL.

My verdict: yummy, i love the banana and chocolate and texture.

Hubbs’ vote:”didn’t like the hot banana slice on top- said the chocolate and banana flavors were smacking him in the face.”  Liked it room temp though.  (Keep in mind he isn’t a big muffin eater)

MIL:  “Que rico!” Translation: very tasty!

In other food news I finally tried two food items that the food blog word is always raving about.  Sabra Hummus and  Cedar’s Tzatziki Yogurt Dip.

I’ve had hummus before, but seeing blog after blog after blog about hummus made me develop a huge craving for it.  I initially bought the Spinach and Artichoke flavor, which I used up the 10 oz. size after only a couple of days- it didn’t stand a chance! This past week I purchased the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, which was equally delish! Luckily I still have enough to last me until my next grocery run.  If I keep making crack wraps with spinach it will be gone in a wink!

When I went to the Sabra website for stats on the yummus hummus, I found out that they have FIFTEEN, yes, 15, flavors of the yummy stuff!!  I think my local walmart only carrys 3-4 kinds!  I’m definitely going to check out some other groceries to find some of the other flavors! Chipotle Hummus and Greek Olive Hummus, Pine Nut Hummus, OMG!!!

QUESTION: What flavor of hummus should I try next?

Diana is always praising the Tzatziki so I gave it a go.  Very good- creamy and tastes like a yogurty version of sour cream and onion dip, although with cucumber bits added.  Very creamy and low-cal, only 35 calories, although not too many nutrients besides that- would be an excellent alternative to sour cream or ranch dressing (as long as you only eat a serving!)

I’m really enjoying my summer finding new and interesting food products to try! After all this talk of greek yogurt, I think I’m going to have to give it another try.  Tried it plain for breakfast in Paris and thought it tasted like sour cream! (not exactly what I was looking for for breakfast with my sweet tooth!)

QUESTION: What should be my next “special” food purchase?