Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals #2 January 2012

It seems like just yesterday I was talking about my first Foodie Pen Pal experience! I signed up to do it again and I'm so glad I did! I'm the kind of person that checks my mail everyday and it's even better when there is package with my name on it waiting for me in the mailbox. My mom used to send me wonderful care packages in college and I was thinking the other day that this foodie pen pal concept is like a food version of care packages for adults!! LOVE IT! Man, I'm using a lot of exclamation points.



For the second month in a row, the Foodie Pen Pal that sent me my goodies was from Texas and the person I sent to was in New Jersey (Danielle at Foodosaurus Rex). Funny! The lovely Erin Garcia sent me this wonderful package from the Lone Star state.


I knew right away when I saw the box she re-used that she has good taste! Penzeys Spices is a wonderful store that unfortunately doesn't have a location in Utah (yet...) but I visited one in Portland this summer. 

This picture isn't great but this is a reusable shopping bag "Pack some Texas Heat" with all the spicy chili peppers. 


Erin sent a sweet note explaining the contents of the box as well as homemade muddy buddies, which were delicious and I haven't had in FOREVER!


These are specialties of the deep south of Texas! First I tried Maria's cookies which are a sweet biscuit that I want to try dipped in my coffee or with some Mexican hot chocolate. The Mazapan is a peanut candy that is like Marzipan (candy made with almonds...which you saw in the last post I am a big fan) but is just a triple layer of peanuts and of course, sugar. I think it's so fun learning/tasting regional treats. Just wait until I come back from France.....I do most of my souvenir shopping at the grocery store!


Okay, I think Erin read my mind because these three things are all some of my favorites. Snickers Peanut Butter bars are about the only candy bars I eat (and not that often, so this thing was devoured in minutes of opening my package). Ritter chocolates are a favorite too but this one was Dark Chocolate with chocolate mousse which I haven't had. I love Odwalla juices but haven't ever tried their bars, so I'm saving that for a snack in between shows this week. 


A box of Abundance Apples & Cinnamon instant Oatmeal. I usually buy this brand to bring when we go on tour! These Pumpkin Seed Cheese Flatbreads are going to be part of my lunch this week too with some Laughing Cow cheese wedges. 


I grew up drinking Celestial Seasonings herbal teas and this one combines the perfect flavors for a relaxing after dinner unwinding drink. 


I love the brand name of this product: Funky Monkey! These are freeze-dried fruit bites, the perfect on the go snack and It's so nice that the ingredient list reads: freeze-dried pineapple & lime juice. Real Fruit for funky monkeys like me :)



Finally, something from Penzeys Spices! A jar of their most popular all-purpose seasoning called Forward! It's a salt free seasoning and you can add it to almost anything: vegetables, soups, breaded meats & fish. I can't wait to give it a try in my own kitchen.

Thank you so much Erin, I feel like you totally spoiled me! It's so fun to exchange with people who love food and foodie products as much as I do. I can't wait until next month. I wonder if I'll receive from someone in Texas again.....it is a big state. 

If you would like to receive a foodie pen pal package you can participate by following the details from Lindsay below! You don't have to be a blogger either, if you are a blog reader that loves food that works too.


-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. 


*Breaking news! This month we're going to do a trial run for our Canadian friends. I'm still not exactly sure how it will work with shipping costs and stuff for you guys up North, but if you're willing to give it a try for a month and provide me with some feedback, that would be awesome! Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa
If you’re interested in participating for February, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
-WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. - this is SUPER important so I can get you on the right list!
I will need to hear from you by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!
------


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vegetarian Moroccan Tagine

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone had a good week. I just can't believe how fast the days go by. Being a dancer, my year pans out in seasons. The season starts in June and ends in May. This season seems to be going by extremely fast. Next week we open with our children's show with free matinee performances for kids during the day and then evening performances on Friday and Saturday. The rest of February consists of a lot of teaching and choreographing in local schools. The passport comes out in March where we get to go on our last season tour to France! We end our season with a concert in April......and another season will then come to an end! I just remember being younger and a year seemed like such a long time.


Since time goes by so fast why not eat well! My in-laws got me a subscription to Vegetarian Times for Christmas. Even if you are not vegetarian there are some wonderful delicious recipes in each issue. I've been making quite a few things from the last two issues lately. The first one is this tagine, that fuses aromatic spices to make a sweet and savory dish. I'm going to a couscous party this week and I think I'll make this one again. I just wish I had a nice tagine dish like this to serve it in!


Chickpea and Date Tagine

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion diced (2 cups)
4 cloves garlic (4 tsp.)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup whole-wheat/regular couscous
1 cup pitted dates, halved
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Plain Greek Yogurt, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 10 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring often. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon, and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and 1/4 cup water; simmer 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, toast couscous in small saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 1 3/4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.

3. Stir dates and lemon juice into tagine, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over couscous, sprinkled with cilantro and dolloped with greek yogurt. 

Serves 8






For dessert how about this.....



For Christmas, this little guy showed up in my stocking! I don't eat pork but I will eat something shaped like a pig! I collect pig things and this edible collectible was so cute. He was made of marzipan (almond paste & sugar) and hailed from Germany. When I'm on tour in Europe I always snack on marzipan that's either plain or mixed with chocolate. You have to really like the taste/flavoring of almonds but luckily for me, I do!


Coming up this week I have my January Foodie Pen Pals reveal, Attune Foods review, and a CORE Foods review!!




CIAO,

BETSY

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Snacks: Blueberry Glazed Vegan Donuts & Healthy Mezze Plates

It's been too long again! I can't believe I haven't written a post in over two weeks. Well, actually I can believe it because it's been about two weeks since I've gone back to work after having four weeks off. It always takes me a little while to get back in to the schedule of things. At the studio, we are getting ready for our family show, Kaleidoscope which will be performed at the Capitol Theatre Feb. 3-4! The concert will feature the works of Choreographer Alwin Nikolais. Nikolais' work served as inspiration for current artists like Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Momix & Pilobolus.  It's fun when we do Nikolais' work too because we go from having 6 dancers to 10. It's always nice to have more people in the studio. We are learning this new piece here:

Gallery by Alwin Nikolais
Source
The piece is called Gallery and it's all done in black light! There are some really visually stunning images that we create, it's pretty magical! But from the dancer's point of view it's quite hard! We are wearing masks the whole time in the black light, are using a lot of props, and there are lots of places where things could go wrong. It takes a lot of concentration and preparation to make sure you have everything preset. Long story short rehearsing this piece and all the other repertory everyday from 9-5 has left me exhausted. The last two weeks I've done a little cooking but I must admit there were a lot of frozen veggie burgers eaten in the evenings (not that there is anything wrong with that!). So that changes today! Starting with breakfast where I tried out Sarah's great recipe for baked donuts. I love my Wilton donut pan! If you don't have one yet, it's a great inexpensive kitchen must have! I just like making a baked version of a treat that is usually not very figure friendly. This recipe is definitely dancer approved!!


Blueberry Glazed Donuts
Recipe by: Sarah Collins Chapman of Sarah Snacks


Ingredients:

For the donuts:

1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

For the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 Tbsp. non-dairy milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. In a small bowl combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir until just combined. Carefully fold in blueberries. Spoon mixture into donut pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray (I used about 2 heaping Tbsp. of batter for each donut). Bake for 12-13 minutes until donuts are firm and slightly brown. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. For glaze mix together the confectioners sugar and milk and dip each donut into glaze. Let donuts sit until glaze hardens.

Makes 12 full sized donuts.
















The last couple of Sunday's I've been going to church with my my mom & then we've been treating ourselves by going to Whole Foods for a coffee afterwards. When I get home, it's usually about lunch time but my husband and I aren't all that hungry for a huge lunch. So today, I thought I would just throw together a "Mezze" plate for us. In Middle Eastern cuisine, "mezze," is a spread of appetizers or small foods. Perfect for a light Sunday lunch here's my version of a healthy "mezze" plate. The only thing that would have made it more perfect was a glass of wine!



Healthy Mezze Plate:


  • Bell pepper spears
  • Scoop of Sabra Hummus sprinkled with Fat-Free Feta cheese
  • Light Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese wedge
  • 4 Verdi Castelvetrano Olives (I just got these at Costco & they are delish!!)
  • Eat Smart Naturals Sea Salt Whole Grain Tortilla Chips w/flax, quinoa, sesame, & chia seeds


Perfectly filling and the perfect Sunday snack......now I need to go figure out dinner plans! I'll be back soon with more great recipe finds & creations. I also took a wonderful yoga workshop this weekend at a great yoga studio, Local Yoga. The workshop was a yoga class that incorporated learning ways to use a foam roller to help stretch more and learn to roll out sore muscles. It was great for how sore I already was from the week. I hope to share some of the exercises I learned with you all. Weather you are an athlete or office person we can all find ways to help relax and take care of our all too often, overworked bodies. So look forward to that!



CIAO,

BETSY

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Healthy First Week of 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I cannot believe that it's already been one week into the new year. I'm excited for what this new year will bring! New Year's Eve was pretty quiet and relaxing. It's not a favorite holiday for my husband and I so we usually just stay at home. We experienced one crazy NYE in Milan, Italy and that probably gave us our fill for awhile. I made a lot of fun appetizers and champagne cupcakes (recipe on it's way!). My mom & dad came over and we ate, played games, drank some Manhattans, toasted with Prosecco and were in bed by 1am! I'm not really one to make New Year's Resolutions.....I more just make lists of things I want to do. So here is my list for 2012:


  • Practice more yoga
  • Take a 200-hour yoga certification 
  • Eat more Kale
  • Take two hours every Saturday to clean my house
  • See Wicked the musical with my husband
  • Learn more about Essential Oils ( I got a starter kit for Christmas)
  • Train to run the Disneyland Half Marathon
  • Spend less time online and more time reading
  • Start a gratitude journal
  • Write down my recipes when I create them on actual notepads, instead of scratch pieces of paper that I then lose and have to try to remember how I made the recipe!
  • Less waste, especially in my kitchen: Eating up more leftovers, and making more pantry meals before buying more things. 
  • Taking trips to Alaska (where I grew up), California (to visit my Grandma), Boston, New York, and IRELAND!!!     
Well that's a good start I think! Since one of my goals is to eat more kale, (simply because it's good for you & I actually really like the taste) here is a recipe to start off the New Year. It's a pasta recipe and one that includes pesto. Can't get much better than that! 




Kale-Walnut Pesto Pasta
  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound gemelli pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Directions:
  • 1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the kale until  tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kale to a colander and rinse with cold water. Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.
  • 2. Meanwhile, squeeze the kale to remove the excess water. In a food processor, combine the kale, walnuts, garlic and Parmesan until almost smooth; season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, add the olive oil.
  • 3. Add the pesto to the pasta, along with enough pasta cooking water to loosen the pesto as necessary. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan.

  • (From Every Day with Rachel Ray Magazine)


  • In other exciting blog news for 2012, two of my posts on Pumpkin recipes were shared as Top 9 posts on the website DailyBuzz Healthy Living! This is a new website that you should all go check out! It's really easy to navigate and you can find some great advice/recipes/exercises from other bloggers. 

    You also may have recognized a new badge on my page! I also am now a member of the Clever Girls Collective. This collective is one of the largest blog networks and is powered by the Clever Girls social media agency! I'm excited to be a part of this as well! 



    Lots of good things in 2012 so far! I wish you all good health & happiness for the New Year. I want to share with you one last image for the beginning of the New Year..... (It's something I want to work on for 2012)

    Source: via Pure2raw on Pinterest




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