Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Foodie Penpals!

The Lean Green Bean

It's time for Foodie Penpals! This month's package comes from Amy, 1/2 of the pair that writes A Couple in the Kitchen.  How yummy are their pictures!  Check out these Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and this EZ Orzo salad.  Yum.  She and her husband hail from New England, where Amy says Fall is in full bloom.

Take a look at this package embracing Autumn! Cupcakes with Halloween sprinkles, delicious cinnamon sticks, a mini pumpkin, a cinnamon decaf tea, and pretty leaves in red, orange, yellow.

This was the exact inspiration I needed to get myself in gear to plan my school Halloween party. I've decided to make cupcakes (maybe in ice cream cones) and let the kids decorate with the sprinkles. Then I'll bring my crockpot in and make applesauce with cinnamon!

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I know kids love it and I shouldn't be the spoil sport that ruins it with my grouchy ways. So I'm thankful that Amy's package showed up and gave me inspiration to get into the Fall spirit.

Oh and the pumpkin? It so happens that we went to the pumpkin patch a couple weeks ago and for whatever reason, we got 3. Why we didn't get 4 - one for each person, I don't know. Anyway, the pumpkin from Amy is the perfect addition to our family of pumpkins.  A baby pumpkin for Baby J.  Check out our cute family of 4 pumpkins.  I <3 it!

Foodie Penpals is so much fun! wanna try? Here's how to sign up to be a Foodie Penpal!
If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You must submit your information by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th!

The Lean Green Bean

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cheater's Homemade Chicken Soup

It's Fall, but I have a hard time believing it. If it's sunny and in the 80s, it's too hard to think that it's anything but summer. But with less daylight and Halloween just around the corner, I know it is Fall!

Fall and winter are comfort food seasons to me. Possibly the #1 comfort food is chicken soup. Now, there will always be a special place in my heart for the condensed soup in the red labeled can, but since reading their labels and realizing they put MSG in their soups, it makes me think twice about serving them to my family.  It's odd that Swanson is also part of the Campbell's soup family, but contains no MSG.

Enter in my cheater's homemade chicken soup. Think, like a Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meal version of the real thing. Boneless chicken chunks browned, toss in some veggies, and a can of chicken broth. Serve with rice or pasta and you have a full, hearty meal. For days!

I might just go have some more right now.

1 lb boneless chicken
2 T olive oil
3 ribs celery
3 carrots
1 1b mushrooms
1/4 t garlic, chopped
1 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
2 c water
1/4 t poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Cut chicken, celery, carrots, and mushrooms into bite sized chunks.
  2. Heat a large soup pot.  Add olive oil and coat bottom of the pan.  Add chicken and brown.
  3. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, water, poultry seasoning, and salt & pepper to taste.  Scrape bottom of pot.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 12-15 min, or until veggies are tender.
  6. Adjust seasonings if desired.
  7. Serve with rice or pasta.

Friday, October 26, 2012


It took going to Michi Sushi for me to try raw fish. I still don't go out of my way to eat nigiri or sashimi, but if it's a sushi roll that has spicy tuna, avocado, maybe some cream cheese, and sliced lemon on top, chances are, I'll try it.  Are sushi terms too confusing? Check out Japan-Guide to demystify.

Now I don't dare make spicy tuna at home, but making maki rolls or inari is totally feasible and easy. Authentic? Not a chance! Yummy? Yes!  You just have to have the right ingredients and one of the main ingredients in inari sushi is the dried tofu pouches.

I had some time to kill before picking Mr A up from school, so I stopped at the nearby Chinese market.  The market near my house doesn't carry inari any more, so when I saw them at this one, I picked up 2 cans.  Inari is also sold in the refrigerated section, but these are the ones that my mom always uses, so that's the one I got too.

The other main ingredient in inari sushi is rice, preferably a shorter grain rice.  I think there is actually a "sushi rice", but I just used the rice that I have, which is a Jasmine rice, a longer grain rice.  The longer grains don't stick together as much as the shorter grains, but all in all, still tasty.  Adding rice wine vinegar to the rice, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, and other flavorings are good too, just depends on what you like.


Rice, cooked
Inari pouches

Rice wine vinegar
Garlic powder
Sesame seeds

  1. Stuff inari pouches with about a tablespoon of warm of room temperature rice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Easy Flatbread Pizza

Here's an easy go-to recipe. Flatbread, marinara, mozzarella, and whatever toppings you'd like.  I was already browning up some ground beef and had some leftover easy zucchini in the fridge so I used that. Last week when I made this, I browned some Italian sausage and mushroom and used that.  I used my toaster oven to crisp up the flatbread and melt the cheese but you could use your conventional oven.

No flatbread? French bread, hamburger buns, bagels, and English muffins are good alternatives.  I've never tried using Naan or pita bread, but I imagine those would work ok too.  Go crazy!  Or just eat lots of pizza.

Flatbread Pizza

Marinara Sauce
Mozarella Cheese, shredded
Toppings: mushrooms, sausage, zucchini (whatever you like!)

  1. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of marinara sauce on the flatbread.  Sprinkle with desired toppings.
  2. Toast for 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and flatbread is slightly crispy.
  3. Serve warm.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fall is here and pumpkins are all around. I've been seeing all sorts of pumpkin recipes (here, here, here, and here) lately.  Apparently, they are very healthy and nutritious and can be more than an extra paperweight or glowing face on my balcony.  So, when my co-worker posted this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cookie Madness, I bookmarked it and said to myself that I would bake them (which usually means that I never will but will spend lots of time wishing that I would).

However, this morning, I picked up a very delicious chocolate chip cookie from Specialty's, and after fending off Mr A from eating it, it disappeared into my husband's tummy.  I almost cried - that's how good that Specialty's cookie is!  So then, it was decided that I would need to bake my own cookies today and I would have Mr A's help in doing so.

Before I decided on using Cookie Madness' recipe, I scoped out many other recipes.  I came back to Cookie Madness because it uses just 1 egg and suggested using whole wheat flour.  In the end, these cookies have an odd orange-y color, have a slight pumpkin taste, and just taste a bit funky.  I'm not sure I will make them again, but Mr A likes them - but that's probably because he's had like 3 cookies in his life.  Yeah, these are good, but that's just the chocolate chips that make it good.

** OK, update.  I stuck my cookies in the fridge - I actually meant to freeze a bag, but whatever.  Now I've decided that I like these cookies after all.  In fact, I genuinely like them chilled and straight out of the refrigerator.  They're just like pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins.  Yay!  Not a waste of time or chocolate chips after all.  hehe

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 scant cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (9 oz)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Beat pumpkin, egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Make sure all the leavenings are dissolved (no lumps). Add the flour and stir just until it is mixed in, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Using a very generously rounded tablespoon measure, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets spacing about 2 inches apart (cookies shouldn’t spread much). Bake at 375ยบ for 13 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from tray and let cool.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1 Egg Raisin Bran Muffins

It's been a long time since I've posted.  Well, life seems to be getting in the way... what can I say?  Here's a post without pictures.

Remember when I made egg free raisin bran muffins? Then I made Pinch of Yum's regular 2 egg version with blueberries? Well, 2 eggs might be more than Mr A's system will tolerate. So I've made a 1 egg version, with grated apple instead of applesauce and some whole wheat flour. The bits of grated apple are a nice surprise and you don't even notice the whole wheat substitution.

I also decided to use bran cereal, then add my own raisins and dried cranberries. Have you ever checked out how much sugar is in raisin bran? Now I haven't done the research to see if it's just the raisins boosting up the sugar content, but I do feel better knowing the bran cereal alone doesn't seem to add as much sugar.

1 Egg Raisin Bran Muffins

1/2 cup oil
3/4 c sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 banana, mashed
1 apple, grated
2 c buttermilk
1 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 c Bran cereal
1/2 c raisins
1/4 c cranberries

  1. Mix in order and bake in muffin tin at 400 degrees for 12-20 minutes, depending on pan size. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Easy Granola Bars

Granola bars, quite possibly one of the most perfect snack foods  A little sweet, a little chewy but still crunchy, and it's healthy.  Or maybe it isn't really that healthy when it's made with condensed milk, almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, chocolate, and coconut in it.  Oh and I threw in some pretzel bits in for some fun.  Alright, I concede, totally not healthy.  Who cares?  It's tasty and it's easy!

Oh and in case if you were wondering, I have tried the healthy granola bar recipe that use bananas but I wasn't very impressed.  I still ate the whole batch but that was only because I loaded it with chocolate chips.  Here's the non-banana version that's tasty.

Easy Granola Bars

from All Recipes

3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sweetened condensed milk, butter, coconut, almonds, chocolate chips and cranberries with your hands until well blended. Press flat into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, depending on how crunchy you want them. Lightly browned just around the edges will give you moist, chewy bars. Let cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares then let cool completely before serving.