June 30, 2014

OMG Heath Bar Cookies

OMG Heath Bar Cookies
Resistance Is Futile. 

The.  Diet.  Is. Over.


Whew.  It’s been 9 weeks of no sugar, no carbs (except the good for you veggie kind), no bread (!!), no booze (!!!!!) and very little fat.  But considering I’m 35 lbs lighter and *this* close to fitting into some jeans that I haven’t worn since 2002 (shutituprightNOW!), it was totally worth it.  Plus, my skin looks ah-maze-zing, my nails aren't splitting and tearing like crazy and I haven’t seen my hair look this shiny (without help) for a long time.  Totally, totally worth it.

And since the diet is over, I thought I’d celebrate with some cookies!  No, not really.  Well, okay, yes.  Kinda.

June Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!

Happy Monday, Kids!

It’s always good to start off the week – even a short holiday one (YAY!) – with something fun, isn’t it?  Sure it is!  And believe me, Foodie Pen Pals is nothing but fun.  I love hitting up my local farmer’s markets and specialty stores to shop for my FPP (truth time: it’s usually a little “one for them, one for me” kind of a shopping trip!) and using my limited packaging skills to upcycle some old containers into shiny new holders for homemade goodies.

This month I was I was matched up with the Queen Bean herself, Lindsay, the host of FPP on her blog The Lean Green Bean!!  Lindsay has a great focus on the healthy side of things and I wanted to make sure her box honored her commitment to good health but, with a couple of treats thrown in for balance. ;)  You can check out my box to Lindsay here:  http://www.theleangreenbean.com/june-foodie-penpals-reveal-day-2/

I was so excited when my goodie box from Lindsay arrived - it really is like having a birthday every month! She really went above and beyond - making sure to find items that not only were peanut-free but were created in nut-free environments.  So very sweet.  Here’s what she sent:

June 16, 2014

Soy-Citrus Grilled Chicken with Summer Fruit Salsa

 Soy-Citrus Grilled Chicken with Summer Fruit Salsa
 Soy-Citrus Grilled Chicken with Summer Fruit Salsa

I seriously have no idea how 2 weeks have just flown by without a post – I suck.  In my *ahem* defense, I will say that it has been stupidly cloudy here in Dallas for the better part of those 2 weeks, thus making photography an impossibility at my house.  I have one set of windows that gets usable natural light and when the sun is gone, so is the photo op.  Now you know why my photos are a little, um, bor-ring.  It’s the lack of natural light.  Oh, and I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to food photography, but really, I’m certain it’s all the lighting’s fault.

But yesterday there was sunshine. 

May 31, 2014

May Foodie Pen Pal Reveal!

Foodie Pen Pals – I’ve missed you!!

It’s been awhile since I participated in the FPP program and I am so thrilled to be back swapping goodies with folks all across the country!  If you’re not familiar with the Foodie Pen Pal program hosted by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean, you should really head over and check it out.  It’s a great way to meet new people and sample yummy treats from all over.

This month I was paired with Kathy, a sweetheart of a mom and wife from Evansville, Indiana.  She must have done some recon on my blog because she sent me the most fabulous FPP package with all my favorite goodies!  Here’s the scoop:

Grippos BBQ Potato Chips – Y’all.  BBQ Chips.  B-B-Q!  C-H-I-P-S! In case y’all don’t know, BBQ chips are one of my favorite things on the planet.   I lurrrrvvvve them so very much. And having had Grippos once before, they have quickly become one of my favorite brands of my favorite chips.  The bag popped open in the box and some very brave chip soldiers died so that others could make my belly happy, and for that, I thank them. 

Dark Chocolate with Caramel Fudge & Sea Salt – These are currently hidden and on lockdown.  From MYSELF.  I’m actually rationing them because they are about the best damn things I’ve ever eaten.  I’m not sure who the first person was to realize the awesomeness of adding sea salt to sweet treats but I’m oh-so-grateful I’d like to give them my firstborn child.  (Okay, not really, I actually like him.  A lot.)

Apple Butter – Anything with “butter” in its name can’t be a bad thing and one the most delicious butters I can think of is the apple kind.  On a warm, toasted English Muffin?  Please.  There’s nothing better.  This little jar of yummy came from the same farm where Kathy got the chocolates.  It’s like 2 miles from her house.  If I were lived there, I’d make it part of my morning jogging route.

Spiced Apple Cider Jelly – More apple stuff! Yay!! This stuff is so fantastic.  It’s from a farm out by Kathy’s sister’s house and it is fan-freaking-tastic.  I put it on a cinnamon-raisin bagel from the bagel shop around the corner and bliss out.

Ski – This popular soft drink is flavored with lemon and orange and is such a hit in Indiana that Kathy says a local pizzeria actually made a pizza topped with Grippos chips and a drizzle of concentrated Ski! I haven’t tried this yet but I have a couple of recipes that call for a citrus flavored drink to be used and this is the one I’ll be using!

Kathy doesn't have a blog but sent along a sweet note about the box I sent her for me to include here.  Here’s Kathy!:

Hi Lauren.  I hope it's not too late for me to report back to you on my foodie pen pal box!  We have enjoyed all of the treats you sent us.  For several evenings after I received your box, I was able to relax with a cup of hot tea in my new mug with the snicker duffins.  A few nights ago I grilled chicken breasts with the apricot sauce and it was delicious!  I have also been snacking on the dried peaches, yum!  The toffee candy bar was probably my favorite.  I LOVE dark chocolate!  My son especially loves the cinnamon sugar grinder.  I make him cinnamon toast almost every morning before we head off to "school" (daycare).  And my newest guilty pleasure is sneaking spoonfuls of cookie butter in the pantry closet so no one will see me.  That can be our little secret, haha!  Thanks again for all of the thought you put into our box.  We really appreciate it!


Thanks Kathy! And thanks again to Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean for hosting such an awesome swap!!

May 21, 2014

Healthy Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlicky Cauliflower Mash & Wild Mushroom Ragu

Healthy Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlicky Cauliflower Mash & Wild Mushroom Ragu
Healthy Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlicky Cauliflower Mash & Wild Mushroom Ragu

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE CHICKEN.  I really never tire of it.  I know that some people (read as: my Dad) groan every time another dish using boneless, skinless breasts is put in front of them but not me.  I think it’s one of the best blank canvases a cook can have to experiment with sauces and any other flavor-bringers.  And it plays so well with veggies and starches, how can you not love a chicken breast? 

If it’s cooked to death and dried out, that’s how. And unfortunately, when it comes to healthy cooking, juicy chicken tends to be something that gets sacrificed to the Diet Gods.

Usually chicken breasts can be kept juicy by cooking them with the skin on, or using shameless amounts of butter (oh, butter…I miss you…), so how can you make sure you’ll get juicy chicken AND keep it healthy?  A few well-intentioned bangs with a meat tenderizer or heavy skillet will solve that problem perfectly.  Pounding the chicken breast into thin cutlets and cooking them quickly over major heat practically gives you a juicy chicken insurance policy.

And to keep the rest of the meal healthy, the standard dose of cream cheese in the mashed cauliflower has been replaced with cottage cheese. Yes, COTTAGE CHEESE.  Trust me, once it’s blended with the cauliflower, I swear you can’t even tell it was cottage cheese.  The mushroom ragu usually has a good-sized glub of heavy cream but really, all it takes is a little white wine and some chicken stock reduced down and you get a very healthy – and satisfying - sauce.

So how’s that for a diet/healthy meal for ya?  Tender chicken served over creamy, garlicky mashed cauliflower and topped with a light, earthy mushroom sauce.