Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

This month I decided to join the Foodie Pen Pal craze. It's an event that Lindsey at The Lean Green Bean started that has taken off and gained LOTS of participants. You can read more about the program here.

I signed up earlier this month and anxiously waited for the email showing who we were paired to send to and also who would be sending to us (it's two different people, not just a swap back and forth). Wouldn't ya know on my first month to join the fun I was paired with Lindsey, the founder of the program! Talk about intimidating, but hey- start out with a bang right?? To see her post about what I sent in her package can be seen here.

I was paired with Dekeydra from California. She sent some awesome goodies!

My two little buddies were excited about the new foods, too!

The package included a Luna cookie dough flavored protein bar (I had to keep my eyes on Kaydin because she kept trying to sneak it after we opened the box when I wasn't looking. We split it the next morning on our way to school, though, and it was soo good! No health food taste at all. I need to find these here in Des Moines stat!) Also in the box were two packets of Justin's nut butter (the chocolate flavor is awesome!), and a cocoa almond Square Bar (pretty good).
She also sent along some organic Muir Glen salsa. The jar says medium so I was a little nervous it'd be too hot for my whimpy self, but surprisingly, it wasn't! Really good with eggs like she suggested.  Kaydin and I have been randomly snacking on the veggie chips and the bread was great timing because we had just run out at home. And it was my favorite type, really seedy and full of texture. Just the day before the package arrived I was at the grocery store and put that Pumpkin Flax Granola cereal in my cart. I showed constraint, though, and put it back telling myself I would get it when my other cereal stash was gone. Little did I know a box was already on it's way to my house!
Thanks, Dekeydra, for such an awesome foodie filled package!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Applesauce (In the crockpot!)

One of the first things I used our apples that we got from Center Grove Orchard for was a batch of homemade applesauce.

Super easy and no added chemicals or processed ingredients that you find in store bought applesauce. Have you flipped over an applesauce container? Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup is a common ingredient. Why the processed crap? If you buy your applesauce in stores make sure to buy the natural versions. Check those labels, people!
Or better yet, cut up some apples and throw em in your crockpot for a few hours! The taste of fresh homemade applesauce is so much better than the store bought varieties.

Crockpot Applesauce
Adapted from SkinnyTaste
  • 8 medium apples (Use a combination of  Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, etc.)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 tsp light brown sugar (unpacked) - or agave

Peel, core, and slice apples. Add apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon stick to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Post: Words from Mom, part 6

Josh has not always been the modest guy he is now....

Dennis has always been a great dad and after being injured when he worked at Bilmar, he spent time being Mr. Mom while I still worked. It was great, no more daycare for the kids and one of us was there all the time. He was really good at it and did everything that I had been doing.  We lived in the country outside of Storm Lake at this time.  As you know we have always lived in the country, and that can be confusing to toddlers during those difficult potty training months...especially when Dad does the training and lets his little buddy "go" outside rather than using the toilet. Now don't get me wrong, he never pooped outside, at least not that I know of. That was Kaydin and another story for another time.   

Mollie was four at the time and going to preschool. Josh was just over two and Daddy's little shadow.  One day when I was not at work we decided to go appliance shopping. It was time to replace our old refrigerator and why not look at stoves also, might as well get a matching set.  So off we went to an appliance store which was up-town Storm Lake.  The store was quite large and we looked at every refrigerator and stove in the store.  We were towards the back of the store when I noticed someone was missing.  I saw Mollie but Josh was gone.  What the hell?!? I had lost another kid!  I searched the store not finding him so I went to the front door to see if he had snuck outside and there he was.  I was not happy with what I saw, though. There he was standing in the doorway and yep, you guessed it....peeing on the sidewalk.  So I did the only thing I could do, I walked away and pretended I did not see what he was doing.  I went and got Dennis who was talking to the salesman.  I let him know that it was time to go, gathered up Mollie and the little pisser and left that store.  Don't think we ever went back.  

I've always said Josh is accident prone.  When he was young I expected him to have several broken bones.  He has actually been lucky in that regard. The only real broken bone he has had is his toe, just before he turned three.  We had an old well with a pump handle outside.  The handle somehow came off and  "Toughy" thought he could pick it up.  Well, I guess he did, but he ended up dropping it on his toe.   We took him to the emergency room, at that time we did not know his toe was broken, but he had also smashed his toe and his toenail popped off.  It was pretty nasty looking.  Dennis ended up having to take Josh to the doctor every day for a week to get Josh's toe worked on.  They also wanted us to keep him off his feet and keep him calm... yeah right!!  Those of you that knew Josh as a little guy knows how impossible that was. 

So the trip down the furnace and broken toe were just the start of Josh's experience with injuries. He had two incidents of riding his bike around the grill and falling on it, burning the whole underside of his forearm.  Guess he didn't remember how much it hurt the first time, he had to do it a second time.  I actually lost track of all Josh's little injuries, he has had too many and with him it's a never ending process.
I remember the day we went to the hospital for his toe. I was given stickers for being a good girl and Josh was pissed! He was the hurt one and I was getting stickers! Mom is right, he's injured himself too many times to even remember all the incidents. I even get pictures on my phone every once in awhile of his self-inflicted injuries that happen on his job-sites. There is one injury, though, that none of us will ever forget....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Visit to the Apple Orchard

At the end of September, we headed out to Center Grove Orchard to enjoy the great fall weather and get some locally grown apples. We visited this farm two years ago and decided to go back again. Last year, we checked out Berry Patch Farms but they didn't have apples this year.

Center Grove Orchard has many activities on their property. It can keep a family busy for the whole day! We fed the goats...
Posed by cows...
Swam in corn....
Bounced on these balloon horses... 
 Made our way through a small hay maze,
wandered through the many pumpkins and gourds, and also raced rubber ducks in water with a well pump and slid down a giant slide on a feed sack. 

After we completed all those activities we made our way back inside to their market area and picked out a few goodies to take home. I picked out a bunch of different types of apples that we are still eating and baking with. We sampled far too many types of fudge (sooo good though. A few squares may have come home with us.) We sipped on an apple slushie while hand-picking a just-out-of-the-oven apple pie. This was the best apple pie we had ever had. Apple pie is Tim's favorite dessert besides cheesecake and we just had to take one home after we tried one of the samples. Some apple butter and a cream cheese pumpkin roll-up also made it in the basket to come home, too. So many yummy things to choose from! I keep telling Tim that he needs to stop by the orchard on his way home from work for another pie. Seriously, so good!!

It's not too late to visit for yourselves! You won't be disappointed.

Center Grove Orchard
32835 610th Ave
Cambridge, Iowa 50046
Phone: 888-2-APPLE-1 (888-227-7531 )

Friday, October 19, 2012

Random Happenings, take 2

Hi! It's been awhile, friends! I've been lazy with getting my writing in my posts. I have lots of pics edited and uploaded. But then the writing comes and I haven't been feeling too creative this week.

Instead of a big long post or a recipe I thought I'd give you a quick update of a few things going on in our world.

  • Last week Kaydin and I went to the library. She rode her bike and I jogged along side her. It's about a mile and a half there and back. Kaydin did great! She did stop to "take a break" a few times along the way but she made it! I told her we could get off the bike but she was the one that had to push it, I wasn't going to. So she stopped to take the "breaks" a few times along the route for fun. I knew she didn't really need a break but she thought it was fun to say she was going to make it to a certain point and then jump off and push her bike for a couple seconds before hopping right back on.

She made sure to bring her Barbie phone for the ride and stopped for a much needed phone call to Tim.
  • Last weekend I found coconut oil in Wal-Mart. This is my favorite cooking and baking oil. It has great health stats and a high smoke point so it's better to use for cooking than olive oil. It's a little cheaper at Trader Joe's but if you aren't fortunate enough to live near one, grab some at your local Wal-Mart!

  • Josh's brussel sprout plants that he grew this year actually got some sprouts on the stalks! They're little but perfect for sauteing in a pan with a little oil and seasonings. 

  • I've been less than impressed with the rain this week drenching all my favorite fall leaves. Fall is much too short already, I'd rather not lose a few days to rain. I much prefer rain to fall in the spring and summer to grow the flowers and keep the grass green. It just didn't work out that way this year :(

  • My friend Kristyn and I are heading to Galena this weekend for her birthday! My mom and her friend, Carla, went there early this summer and had a great time so we decided to make the trip, too. Super excited to see the landscape this time of year! Galena is known for the breathtaking views and beautiful fall colors. Expect a recap in the near future :)

  • Since I'm away for the weekend that means Tim and Kaydin are spending the weekend together. Tim plays like he doesn't know what to do with her the whole weekend and is freaked out at being left alone with her for a couple days. But I know it's an act ;)  He's excited to hang out with her for the weekend and spoil her. Who knows what I'll come home to! Probably a Build-A-Bear Workshop teddy bear. Kaydin has been asking for one for weeks now. We keep telling her her behavior needs to be more consistent and she'll get to go. Tim has been anxiously waiting for her to be good for long enough so we can take her. For some reason I have a feeling I going to come home and find one in her arms, since I won't be there to say it's not time to go there yet.

  • For over a year now, every time Kaydin sees the Stompeez Slippers commercial she says how much she wants a pair of her own. Of course, Tim agrees with her and just thinks she neeeeds them. Imagine how excited Kaydin was when she found them in the store. And since it was slipper day in school today she got her wish!
  • Last night I made a pumpkin French toast casserole for supper. Awesome! It was so. good! Recipe coming :)

Well this didn't turn out as short as I expected! Oh well, have a great weekend!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lunch Date at La Mie Bakery

Recently, Tim was in Des Moines over the noon hour for a client meeting and able to grab lunch quick. We chose a Des Moines favorite, La Mie Bakery, located in the Roosevelt shopping district.


Since opening in 2003, La Mie has become a well-known eatery for many people in the city. Perfect for a filling hearty breakfast or a light lunch of a sandwich, soup, or salad. There's also the option to take home a large variety of fresh baked breads, pastries, and desserts. We usually try to hit up their Farmer's Market stand downtown and grab a cream cheese croissant before they're all sold out on Saturday mornings.

After ordering our lunch selections on our lunch date earlier this month, I made my way down the counter where they always have a few varieties of bread set out to enjoy with your meal. This time we hit the jackpot and enjoyed this cinnamon raisin bread. So good! They also offer free iced tea when dining in. Another valuable perk! ;)
This time I choose the apple salad with apples, avocado, almonds, blue cheese, and cranberries.  
Tim chose the chicken salad with grapes on a croissant.  A couple of my other favorite lunch choices is their cream cheese, pesto, and sprout sandwich and also the tuna salad sandwich. It comes packed with currants, carrots, and almonds.  
And this ladies, was my date for the afternoon. I can rarely get him smile normally for a good camera shot.
That's what he gets for not posing for one second with a normal, acceptable smile. I post his pics on the blog ;) Maybe that'll teach him. Ha!

La Mie Bakery
841 42ND Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50312
Phone 515-255-1625
Monday through Saturday 7am - 4pm

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chocolate and peanut butter chip cookie dough bars

Everyone knows the reason to make cookies is to eat the dough, right? Well, that's usually the reason I make cookies anyway! I guess a warm cookie straight out of the oven with melty chips are in pretty good competition with the dough....hmmm...

Well, the dough comes first, before the baked cookie so the dough wins! Ok, now that we have that straight, go whip together this eggless dough and eat the whole batch as bars!
Just a simple mix of a few staple ingredients and you have yourself an acceptable way to eat a whole bowl of cookie dough! Spread the cookie into an 8x8 dish and it's even more acceptable. No one will question when they think it's just a cookie bar.  Be careful when offering one up, though, because then you'll have to share ;)

Because I've gone through this many times before when baking and Tim is involved, I added some peanut butter chips to fit his needs and guarantee approval.
Kaydin usually doesn't get such decadent desserts in her lunchbox, but yesterday was an exception. I sent the last bar with her with the rule that she had to eat all of her carrots and grapes before she ate the bar. Last night when cleaning out her lunchbox, I discovered the grapes and carrots still packed away nicely, pretty much untouched, but not even a crumb from that bar could be found!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
Adapted from Life's Simple Measures (originally seen in Iowa Girl Eats Friday Favorites post)

Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups  flour (I used whole wheat white)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup chocolate chips ( I used 1 block of chopped chocolate almond bark)
3/4 cup peanut butter chips


1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (I used 1 1/2 blocks of chocolate almond bark)
Note: The topping measurements can be altered to your tastes. I wanted a really thin chocolate layer on top so my measurements are small and not exact.
  1. In a large bowl, mix together butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, alternate mixing in flour and sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined. Gently fold in mini chocolate chips with spatula.
  3. Line 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper. Press the cookie dough into the pan (the cookie dough may be sticky, so lightly flour your hands).
  4. Cover the bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight until firm.
  5. For topping, combine the peanut butter and milk chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until smooth. Spread the mixture over the cookie dough bars. Chill the bars for 1 hour or until topping is firm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pasta Marinara with Fresh Mozzarella

Sometimes it's nice to have some odds and ends things around the house. It usually makes for an easy dinner to be able to throw together. And throw-together dinners with odds and ends ingredients usually involve pasta in our house.
I had some fresh mozzarella that needed to be used up, also some broccoli in the fridge that was nearing it's end. And I always have pasta and spaghetti sauce on hand.  And a quick tip- if I don't use the whole jar of sauce, I just pop the whole thing into the freezer for next time!

Start by boiling the water and add the pasta. I then added my broccoli in the last couple minutes of the pasta cooking. Two birds with one stone! Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it back to the pot. Add your sauce til heated and then toss in the mozzarella cheese. I stirred to melt the cheese and that's it! Dish up and enjoy! I also added a chopped fresh tomato to my dish that needed used, too.
My final product looked less than appealing so I'll spare you and just put a smaller sized pic here.  :)
Pasta Marinara with Fresh Mozzarella
  • Half box of pasta, any kind
  • 1/2-3/4 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 cup cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small tomato (optional)
1. Bring water to boil and add pasta
2. Add broccoli to the pasta a few minutes before pasta finishes cooking.
3. Drain broccoli and pasta and return back to the pot.
4. Add desired amount of sauce to the pasta. Add garlic.
5. Heat pasta and sauce until warmed through.
6. Add cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.
7. Add tomato, if desired.

Who uses whole wheat pasta instead of enriched white pasta? 
I've been using only whole wheat for years! I started by mixing it half and half but have since used only the whole wheat for awhile now. It may take some getting used to at first but your body and health will thank you! Enriched pasta is essentially sugar in your body. There are no nutrients in white pasta and your body treats it as a simple carb that spikes your blood sugar. It's stripped of all nutrients. I prefer to buy my food with the nutrients still there ;)