Friday, March 30, 2012

March Foodie Pen Pals

 foodiepal stamp2 March Foodie Penpals Reveal

Getting goodies in the mail each month has become my "new normal".  I love going to the mailbox and searching for tasty treats!  This month I received a healthy variety of foodie items from Talia at  Her site is inspiring me to eat a little healthier & with headlines like  "Lychee: A Curious Fruit to Love"  how can you not be a fan of Talia!

                       Thank you for the treats Talia

These chocolaty cookies are so darn good that I hunted them down at Fred Meyer in the Natural Food department

Wild Rice, excellent tasting when cooked in chicken stock.
I enjoy honey drizzled on a toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich.

I love the texture & crunch of this home grown granola...made here in Whatcom County!

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:
-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.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  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. So, I'm going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
If you’re interested in participating for April, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 
You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Extreme Coupon Shopping at Target

Easter, birthdays' & out of town trips visiting families had me a little panicky, budget wise. If you are feeling a budget crunch too, please read on.  I'm going to share with you how you can give great gifts that kids want without breaking your budget. 

I stumbled upon an my new favorite website.It's called I was intrigued with their Target Coupon Deals article. The website offers clear photos, pricing, & links to both the Target coupons, and the manufacturer coupons, alike.

               I dusted off our printer and got busy!  I made a few mistakes
                           along the way which I'll mention later.

Here's what I bought:

2 Twister Board Games
Retail $14.89
On sale: $10.00
Target coupon: $3.00 off
Manufacturer coupon: $3.00 off
Purchase Price: $6.00 each

3 Battleship Card Games
Retail: $7.00 each
Purchase Price: $0.00 
*Buy one Hasbro game over $10.00 get one Hasbro card game free!

1 Electronic Yahtzee & 2 Electronic Scrabble Games
Retail: $24.99
On Sale: $15.00
Target coupon: $3.00 off
Manufacturer coupon: $5.00 off
Purchase Price: $7.00 each

1 Nerf N-Strike Rayven
Retail: $25.00
Target coupon:$5.00 off
Manufacturer coupon: $5.00 off
Purchase Price:$15.00

2 Swirlin Shake Shoppe Play-Doh
Retail on sale:$9.99.
Target coupon: $3.00 off
Manufacturer coupon: $3.00 off
1 at Purchase Price: $3.99 
1 at Purchase Price: $6.99 

3 cans of Chicken Noodle soup: Market Pantry
Retail:$1.39 each
Target coupon:.31 cents each when you buy 3.
Purchase Price: .98 cents each.

3 boxes of Bow Tie Pasta: Market Pantry
Retail:$1.39 each
Target coupon: .67 each when you buy 3
Purchase Price: .67 each

My mistakes:
I printed one Target coupon and one manufacturer coupon per type of item.  I learned that you must have a set of coupons for each item, even if you are buying duplicate items.  Target will readjust the price if you bring in the additional coupons within one day.

I went back home and reprinted the additional coupons required but discovered that the Target coupon for the Play-doh was no longer available.  I returned to Target and they provided a price adjustment with my additional coupons which resulted in a refund of $38.00. They were not able to include the $3.00 Target coupon for the Play-doh. 

                      Thank you Heather & Joanie 


                Have you tried extreme coupon shopping? 
                          I would love your tips! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Bars

We're celebrating the beginning of spring soccer & 
       basketball seasons!  It's time for Chocolate 
                     Pecan Turtle Bars!

This recipe is freezer and travel friendly.  If you are shipping these bars it's best to pack them tightly, otherwise they may crumble a bit.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup & 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup & 2/3 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans- chopped
  • Parchment paper to line your pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer add: flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter. Mix until well blended. Place this mixture on the parchment paper.  Place chopped pecans on top.

In a saucepan add: 2/3 cup butter & 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Pour caramel sauce on top of pecans.  Top with chocolate chips and bake for 18-22 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips to partially cover.  Let cool or place in the fridge.  Once it's completely cooled, cut with a sharp knife and wipe your knife clean with a towel after each cut.  Enjoy!  

         How do you celebrate the beginning of a 
                    new season of sports?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creamy & Spicy Shrimp Scallop Pasta

Hubby suggested I name this pasta "First Date Pasta".  He says it's an excellent choice to make for someone that you are hoping to impress.  

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup green onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle (canned in adobo sauce)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup scallops
  • 1 pound of shrimp
  • 1/4 cup fresh sliced or grated parmesan cheese (sorry, the cheese in the green can won't work here)  * Sprinkle the cheese on once your meal is plated.

In a saucepan, saute on low/medium:  butter, garlic, green pepper, green onion, red onion, cajun seasonings & chipotle until butter is melted.  Add shrimp and scallops.

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Add cream cheese to saucepan.  Stir until melted.  Add heavy whipping cream & saute on low until heated.  Pour over pasta and serve.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gnocchi, Prosciutto, Squash & Spinach

Hot & Steamy!
                           A hearty Italian inspired meal

This is the last of the experimental recipes while hubby was away at training.  I've enjoyed testing out new recipes...some were delicious and others, not so much! I liked this recipe but choosing to use whole wheat gnocchi proved to be a bit of a mistake.  I look forward to making this recipe again with potato gnocchi. I prefer a less grainy/earthy taste.

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 slices prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1 12 ounce package of cubed butternut squash 
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound vacuum packed potato gnocchi (I used whole wheat but it tasted a bit too grainy...I will use standard potato gnocchi next time
  • 4 ounces frozen spinach
  • salt and pepper

Boil 4 quarts of water.  In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter then add prosciutto.  Cook for 5 minutes or until crisp. Place on a paper towel lined plate.

Place squash and butter in skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Add thyme & wine and cook for about 3 minutes. Add broth and cook for about 5 minutes.

Place gnocchi and salt in boiling water. Cook until gnocchi floats to the surface (about 4 minutes).  Drain and place in skillet. Add spinach, prosciutto, salt and pepper. Toss and serve right away.

     Thanks for reading another Purple Oven Mitt creation.  
                        Happy St. Patrick's Day!

* Recipe source: America's Test Kitchen, The Best Simple Recipes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gluten Free Soy Chorizo & Veggies with Pasta

                               Try this fast & flavorful meal.

                                It's great for lunch, dinner or as a side dish.

I was reading labels and lingering far too long in the deli area at Trader Joe's when a kind employee suggested I try the soy chorizo.  I don't think I would have tried it without being suggested to do so.  There's something about animal fat that makes everything taste better & noticing that there isn't any animal fat I was concerned.  
He suggested I try the soy chorizo in a home made chili & insisted it was delicious. So I caved. 

I whipped up this spicy & healthy meal.  I thoroughly enjoyed the soy chorizo & 
                               I didn't miss the animal fat. 

     I hope you'll give it a try and tell me what you think.

  • 12 ounces vegan/gluten free soy chorizo
  • 12 ounces "Fiesta frozen vegetables"
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (Rice noodles, wheat noodles, egg noddles...whichever you prefer)  Today I used egg noodles.
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Remove soy chorizo from casing.  Place oil in a fry pan & add soy chorizo. Add frozen veggies & 1/2 cup water.  Cover and saute on medium for about 12 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and add to the soy chorizo/veggie mixture. Toss to coat in the fry pan. Serve immediately.

Serves: 6 lunches

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Polenta with Mushroom Sauce

It's been a week of transitions and new recipes.  Hubby is in California at National Guard training for 3 weeks & is missed greatly.  The living room is full of changes as we adapt to the "quiet". Our youngest moved her bedroom boombox (am I revealing my old age by using that noun? ) to the living room and her brother followed suit by relocating his legos.  It's fun to have a new hub of energy to fill in the gaps.  We are missing him, yet finding ways to adapt.

I'm branching out in the kitchen exploring new recipes & working on photography.  I was especially pleased with this recipe.  It tasted fresh, nourishing and hearty.  The mushrooms were meaty and filling while balancing the fresh rosemary flavors with ease.

  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tube of polenta cut in rounds
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in saucepan then add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook for 8 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes.

Onions, Garlic & Rosemary

In a skillet, add oil and polenta rounds.  Fry for 2-3 minutes per side.  

Serves 4 lunch size portions

* Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen, The Best Simple Recipes.  My modifications include: removing the 1/4 cup dried porcini, removing 1/4 cup water, & omitting 1/3 cup sweet Marsala.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oat Bran & Flax Seed Blueberry Muffins

             Are you craving a dense, moist, flavorful 
                           and nutritious muffin?  

  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 oat bran
  • 2 tablespoons milled flax seed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (dairy is o.k. too)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (we buy honey flavor)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Trader Joe's Roasted & Milled Flax Seed with Blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, cinnamon & vanilla.  

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture & mix on low. Add milk and yogurt. Mix again, on low.

Pour muffin batter into tins.  Add blueberries and push down lightly, they'll sink as they bake.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Yield: 12 muffins

             *Warning*'ll wish you doubled the batch.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kale Chips with Lemon, Red Pepper Flakes, Sea Salt, Olive Oil & Cheese

Crispy, salty, tasty!

I'm trying to balance my love of baked goods & chocolate with vegetables & healthy choices. I fell into a bit of a rut eating salads & raw veggies.  It's time to branch out.

I've been hearing a lot about Kale being a super food so I dug a little deeper & discovered that it's rich in Vitamins A, C, & K.  Here's a link from Web MD about Kale: .  

But how does Kale taste?  Raw Kale is thick, leafy and difficult to chew.  Baked kale is tasty & filling. In-fact, it just might be the perfect food to pack in the car when out and about running errands.

         Kale chips are flavorful, hearty and crispy.  


  • 10 ounce bag of pre-washed & chopped bag of Kale (Trader Joe's $1.99)
  • 4 tablespoons of Parmesan, Romano & Asagio cheeses
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Minimal ingredient list=happiness

Yield: 4 large servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place Kale on 2 Parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle all ingredients except the cheese on the kale. Using a spatula, toss the Kale to coat.


Bake for 10 minutes.  Toss.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle cheese on top then serve.

Place remainder of chips in a sealed container. Chips are best enjoyed within a few days.

             Have you tried Kale chips?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls Pull- Apart in Bundt Pan

              The ultimate weekend food! Why? 

                           First, it's delicious

                        Second, it's fast & easy!

  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tubes of refrigerator biscuits, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease Bundt pan.  Place half the pecans in the Bundt pan. In a saucepan, melt 1 cup sugar and 12 tablespoons butter over medium heat until melted.

Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Drop half the biscuit quarters in the mixture (a few at a time). Toss well then place on top of the pecans. Drizzle half of the butter mixture over the pecan/biscuit quarters in Bundt pan.

Toss the remaining biscuit quarters in the sugar mixture and place in the Bundt pan.  Drizzle the remaining butter mixture & pecans on top.

Just before you place the goodness in the oven

        Bake for about 40 minutes.  Turn the Bundt pan upside down on a platter 

          and serve the Oooey Gooey Caramel-y Goodness!

Now just go buy the ingredients so your family has another reason to talk about how amazing you are!

*Recipe Source: Sam, the Cooking Guy, "Just a bunch of recipes". Sam Zien.  My modifications are to omit the raisins & reduce the biscuits by one tube.