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Monthly Archives: May 2013

May Foodie Pen Pals

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Another month, another great foodie pen pal box.  This month I sent my box to someone in New York.  She got the Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies (the coconut and salted kinds).  This month, I got a box from Dawn over at Spatulas On Parade.

May Pen Pal Box

May Pen Pal Box

First off, I don’t know HOW she knew, but I puffy heart love the Lemon Bar flavor of the Larabar.  So delicious!!!!  I also love the Justin’s single serve almond and peanut butters.  They are perfect for race day or travel in general.  If you’ve ever gone to a race not in your town, these are PERFECT for a pre-race breakfast.  The Sunbutter crackers/replacement meal looks super interesting.  I’ll have to pack it on my next super long day.  The mints are tea flavored and are sweet, but not overly sweet.  Perfect.  And lastly, the two spice packets.  I can’t wait to use both!  Thanks again to Dawn for her great box.

Here are the Foodie Pen Pal details:

-On the 5th of the 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 treatsThe spending limit is $15The 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 can choose 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.
– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. 

The Lean Green Bean
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Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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So, I have now served these to three different audiences (and my husband as well) and everyone loves them.  I’ve made a few different versions of the cookie thus far and think I have the best option figured out.  I promise no one will know that these are vegan.  Remember to just not skimp on the fat (vegan butter) part of this, as that is what helps make the cookies so darn good.

Spicy Cookie Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

    Cookie Ingredients

    Cookie Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg substitute (I used Ener-G)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 to 1.5 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips

Optional ingredients:

Cookie close up :)

Cookie close up 🙂

  • 3/4 cups chopped hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cups shredded coconut
  • pink Himalayan salt

Cream together the butter and sugars.

Creamed butter and sugars

Creamed butter and sugars

Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla.  Beat the mixture together well.  If using Ener-G egg replacer, add the 1 1/4 tsp of dry mixture to the milk with an extra two tablespoons of milk.

Liquids together

Liquids together

Add in the baking powder, cayenne, and cinnamon and mix well.  Finally, add in the whole wheat flour and mix.  Then add the white flour a half cup at a time.  Mix slowly.  Add in chocolate chips and any other of the add ins that you want. Refrigerate your dough.  It will make scooping the dough so much easier.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Heat the oven to 375 F.  Place the cookies about an inch to an inch and a half apart from each other.  If you cook on a silicone sheet, it will make removing the cookies that much easier.  Cook for 15 minutes.  The cookies won’t brown so much on top, so no worries about that.  Allow the cookies to cool then enjoy!

Coconut AND sea salt options

Coconut AND sea salt options

As for the options, I’ve found that using a full 1.5 tsp of cayenne pepper and chopped hazelnuts are the best option.  If you don’t want to add nuts, I’d suggest using dark chocolate with some Himalayan salt sprinkled on top.  Any way you have it, they will be delicious.  Other options may be to try using some tofu or apple sauce instead of egg or the Ener-G.  Also, try using coconut oil instead of the butter, which may work as well.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Friday Flicks: Django Unchained

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Movie poster

Warning: Anything you have heard about Django Unchained is true.  It’s bloody, gory, full of the “n” word, and REALLY LONG.  This is a Quentin Tarantino movie from the beginning.  Yes, he’s even in it for about 5 minutes or so.  But, in true Tarantino fashion, he doesn’t have problems taking himself out of the movie as well.

The basic premise is Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a previous  dentist turned bounty hunter, seeks out a slave named Django (Jaime Foxx) to assist him in identifying some bounties.  The hunt goes well, and the doctor decides to take on Django to be his partner for the rest of the winter.  Django agrees to be his partner with the agreement that Schultz help him find his wife come spring.  The two seem to get along very well and have a very prosperous winter, including geting the drop on a very high value gang.

Spring comes and Schultz and Django head to Mississippi to try to find Broomhilde (Kerry Washington).  They find out that she’s been bought by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and brought to his plantation.  As a matter of approach, Schultz and Django decide to play the roles of men looking to buy mandingos, or slaves that are fighters.  Their hope is that by distracting Calvin from seeing their true purpose they would be able to buy Broomhilde from out under Calvin.  Once they get to Candyland, they find that Broomhilde has tried to escape again and was being kept in the hot box.  Schultz is able to get her out under the pretext that he wants her company.  Django and Hilde are reunited, but it is short lived.  The main house slave Stephen (Samuel L Jackson) sees something’s up and alerts Calvin to the apparent plot.

Schultz and Django

This starts a very long cascade of people dying.  Calvin dies.  Shultz dies.  Most of Calvin’s men die.  Stephen dies.  Calvin’s sister dies.  Things do not look good for either Hilde or Django.  But things start going their way at the end.  And of course the movie ends in a literal “bang”!

Calvin

I have left out much of this movie due to its graphic nature.  There is so much blood and gore in this movie that it is beyond gratuitous.  This is VERY much Tarantino’s style.  Think “Inglorious Basterds”.  Actually, that movie put a bit of a damper on my opinion of this movie.  After seeing “Inglorious Basterds”, I was pretty ruined by Christoph Waltz.  He was such a terrible character that I kept thinking of him as the Jew hunter.  But his character in “Django Unchained” was the complete opposite.  This movie he shows so much more depth in character.  He starts the movie as not wanting to be involved or understanding the slave business.  But he learns very quickly all about it and seems to do the right thing by the slaves he meets.

Stephen and Hilde

All in all, you are going to have to WANT to see this movie.  While I LOVE Kerry Washington, especially in her performances during Scandal, but she really did nothing for me during this movie.  On the other hand Jaime Foxx seems to be choosing better roles that are actual real acting roles.  He’s not my favorite actor, but this was a good job by him.  The movie is over 2.5 hours long, so this is not a movie you can just breeze through.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday Flicks: Silver Linings Playbook

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Movie Poster

I hope I’m the only one that hasn’t seen this movie yet.  I know I’m not, as I called my husband and mother IMMEDIATELY after seeing it.  This was one of those movies.  Ones that you’ve heard was good and actually lives up to its expectations.  I only had a basic understanding of the movie.  The main male character was “crazy” and he meets someone else who is also a bit “off”.  I also knew that the EAGLES were involved and that Robert Deniro was in the film…  Again, all good things.

While the basis of this movie is a sort of romantic comedy, the “comedy” can be very uncomfortable as it is so close to being so true.  Pat Solatano played by Bradley Cooper, is bi-polar and has been ordered into psychiatric care due to an incident.  Pat caught his wife Nikky having an affair with the History teacher at the high school Pat also worked at.  Pat spends four months in a hospital before his mom comes to get him out.  In an agreement to get him released Pat must go to therapy daily and take his medicines.  The problem is that Pat refuses to take his meds as they make him foggy and dull his senses.

Pat striking a deal…

Pat is invited to a dinner party at his friend Ronnie’s house (played by John Ortiz).  Along with Ronnie and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) was also there.  Tiffany is a young widow who is very blunt with everything she does.  As she still sees Nikky occasionally and all Pat wants to do is reconnect with her, Tiffany negotiates with Pat.  If she gives a letter from Pat to Nikky, then Pat has to learn to dance and become her dance partner for an upcoming dance competition.  He reluctantly agrees, and begins to learn to dance and builds a strong relationship with Tiffany.

Parents

Pat slowly gains a new semblance of life, though it’s not easy.  He does eventually get to see Nikky and compete in the dance competition.  I won’t tell the ending, but it’s good, if slightly predictable.  What is great about the movie are the interactions and nuanced performances the “supporting” roles give.  I do think Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar for her performance.  It’s not a flashy sort of role like her “Hunger Games” role is.  It’s much more subtle, like her work in “Winter’s Bone“.  Bradley Cooper does crazy really well.  It’s not comical crazy.  It’s a very in your face very uncomfortable and very realistic crazy.

Dinner party

But most of all, I loved Robert DeNiro.  His role as Pat’s father was played with such a slight hand and a professional’s job that it was absolutely amazing.  He was BANNED from the Linc!  OMG!  It is hilarious.  But ultimately he just wants to connect with his son.  He gets the other one, but Pat has always seemed to ellude him.  Watching the relationships grow in this movie is well worth the price of rental.

Dance!

Rating: 10 out of 10

My NEW garden

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As I’ve said, I moved this winter, which means I couldn’t continue with my garden set-up from last year.  I debated whether I should do the CSA that is popular around here (I’ve participated in the past) or start over with a new garden.  Since one of the things that drew me to this place was the outdoor space, I decided to garden again.

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I was up against a lot.  The girls that lived here previously planted some stuff, but I have no idea what.  I did see some oregano and mint, but they had started to completely take over the upper part of the back garden.  So, it took me about three weeks and a bunch of blisters, but I was able to clear the back and the side areas.  The big things I put in are a fig tree and a blueberry bush.  I also put in various tomatoes, spicy peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplants, radishes, carrots, beets (yellow and candy cane), onions, garlic, and carrots.  I also then planted some lettuces and I got a planter with various herbs.

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I then decided that I wanted my garden to be more sustainable, so I got a rain barrel and a composter. Hopefully I will have some good updates all season long.

April Foodie Pen Pal

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I would like to thank Azia over at Azia said what? blog.  She’s an amazing writer who participated in Nanowrimo 2013.  You should check out her blog.  But on to the box…  Unfortunately the first one she sent apparently got way-laid somewhere!  So, she was nice enough to send me a replacement box.  That is an AMAZING pen pal!

Foodie deliciousness!

Foodie deliciousness!

As you can see, she really went all out for me.  The big thing in the box is the jar of Newman’s pasta sauce.  It looks so good.  Next up are the soy nuts (yum), Primal Strips (my FAVE!), individual servings of peanut butter and hot cereals, and veggie shells.  Also included but not pictured were like three kinds of tea (I drank the pumpkin chai right away), an energy drink addition, and some gummies (vegan of course!).  Again, thanks to Azia for the great box.

Here’s more info about the program:

  • 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.
  • Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans.
The Lean Green Bean

Friday Flicks: Friday Night Lights

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Movie poster

I know I’ve talked before about watching movies specifically due to the actors/actresses in the film.  Well, I also have movies that I watch specifically because of the music as well.  Some of these movies are oldies like “The Wizard of Oz” or “Annie“.  Then there is one that is much newer, called “Friday Night Lights“.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie’s not bad.  I actually really like the performances of Billy Bob Thornton and Connie Britton.  He definitely plays this piercing sort of father/coach figure.  Actually, the most surprising performance of the cast has to be Tim McGraw.  Yes, that Tim McGraw.  The wholesome country singer plays the father of a current football player.  But he’s really damaged.  He spends most of his time drunk and berating his son.  It’s slightly disturbing seeing him be that bad, but he does it so well.

The actual football scenes are shot so well.  When the action scenes are going there is an ambiance to them that you feel drawn into the plays.  The boys do such a great job of telling their stories and their ambitions.  It’s a very compelling story from start to finish.  Unfortunately it’s a sad ending, but it does fit with the theme of the movie.  I’ve never seen the tv show, so I have no idea if it is similar in any fashion. 

On to the music.  In many movies, the music is really just the background, getting you to the places in the story that the director wants you to be.  Most of the time it’s tones or some unnamed melody.  Or it could be like “The Graduate” and be full out composed songs.  Well, I don’t know how, but the people who created “Friday Night Lights” found a quartet from Texas that play amazing music called Explosions in the Sky.  Now this isn’t any old music, but this is an explosion of sound without any words.  The sheer sound and  and magnitude of their sound will literally suck you in.  In a VERY good way.  I saw them live a few years ago (they opened for The Flaming Lips), and I think they were even better than the main band.  We were in an outdoor venue and to hear them with their sound and so many other people, it was a very moving experience.

Band Pic

I highly recommend the band.  They have multiple albums out, and they are all excellent.  But, I also recommend the movie.  It was very moving and the music made it all that much better.

Rating: 9 out of 10