Happy Earth Day!


Happy Earth Day!  I love that we set aside a day/week to really concentrate on our environment.  But really every day is Earth Day.  You don't have to be an environmentalist or 'hippie' to know that the way we treat our Earth today will inevitably impact us in the future.

After this past winter of polar vortexes and record snow falls, it's hard to imagine that global warming exists.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.  Maybe it's a naturally occurring global temperature change that we know has happened in the past with several ice ages under the Earth's belt.  

However, we can't dispute that our weather is getting more extreme, species are going extinct, air quality alerts are increasing, forests are shrinking, and fossil fuels will eventually run out.  In honor of Earth Day, here is a list of 16 easy things you can do and they don't require you to spend a dime (in fact, they will save you money) or join Greenpeace. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The first 'rule' you think about when 'going green'.  My favorite way to use all three is when I purchase a bottle of water, I reuse the bottle for weeks before recycling it.  

Eat less meat
Our demand for meat is not sustainable and livestock are one of the largest sources of methane.  That doesn't mean you need to give up meat altogether, just go vegetarian when you can.  Start with Meatless Mondays with some of these recipes.

Shop local
Besides supporting your community and small businesses, buying local means it didn't have to be shipped from anywhere.  Eat at your mom and pop restaurants, shop at boutiques, and get your groceries at the farmers market.  You'll create relationships with the people who make the food you eat, the merchants who buy the goods you want, and the farmers that grow the vegetables on your plate at home.

Reusable grocery bags
These things are sturdy and hold more than their plastic counterpart.  Keep a couple in your car so they will be there when you need them.

Open your windows
Curtains and blinds are great insulators during the winter, but open them up to let the sunshine pour in and you don't have to turn on the lights.  During the warmer months, open your windows to let the breeze cool your house without air conditioning.  There are often more pollutants in the air indoors than outdoors.  So take a deep breath of that fresh air.

Take the stairs
Save energy and burn some calories.  Skip the line at the elevator and take those stairs two at a time, you'll get there before everyone else. 

Buy in bulk
Eliminate extra packaging by buying in bulk and send less to the landfill.  You might also save a trip to the store.

Programmable thermostat
If you're not home, why would you be heating or cooling it like you were there?  Adjust your thermostat to adjust to your preferred temperature about 30 minutes before you usually get home.  Keep the temperature low at night will save energy and help you sleep better (during the summer, open those windows).

Donate
Done using something and don't have another use for it?  Well, you know the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure", so donate it to make it easier for that person to find that new-to-them piece.  While you're at it, check out if anyone has left treasures for you to find at thrift stores.

Turn your computer off
You're not using it while you're sleeping, so why is it still on?  Turn the thing off and save some energy!  Same can be said for your cell phone.

Buy seasonal
If it is in season, it probably didn't travel too far to get to you.  Even though you didn't drive that mango from Mexico, if you buy it, that's a vote to keep sending it from Mexico.  Plus, seasonal produce is riper and tastes so much better.

Go to the library
Reading books on your Kindle is great, but borrowing books from your local library is even better.  You're not using any extra paper and you're not using any electricity either.  Added bonus, its free!  

Remove the junk from your car
Save gas by making your car lighter.  Get rid of all the excess junk you have been meaning to clean out for months.  

Cold water for washing
Use cold tap water to in your washer and dishwasher.  You save energy and money by not heating up more water.  Plus, cold water is easier on fabrics so your clothes last longer.  Extra point if you air dry you clothes and dishes!

Plant something
Whether its outside or indoors, all plants help clean and filter the air.  Make sure to pick drought tolerant, non-invasive plants for low maintenance.

Grow your own food
If you're planting something, have the plants work for you!  From planting a couple herbs in pots in your kitchen to growing a vegetable garden in your yard, it all makes a difference and you get dinner out of it.

Weekly Menu

Happy Easter!  It's amazing that we started this last week with snow on the ground and now it is back in the mid 70s.  That's Ohio weather for you, I guess.  Those snow covered daffodils popped right back up once it warmed up again.  Tons of beautiful blooms that make me so happy every time I look out the window.  :)

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Last frost date is still a couple weeks away for us, but I couldn't help myself, I had to plant a few flowers this weekend while doing some much needed yard work.  I think this year was the worst cabin fever yet... everyone was outside doing the same thing!

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The last picture is of the bunny cake my mom makes for Easter (some times it is a lamb, this year she made the bunny).  Cute, right?

Well, now that Easter is here and Lent is over, my husband gets to pick out the menu for the week after being a *sorta* good sport about the whole meat-free for 40-some-odd days (he didn't give up meat, but everything I made for dinner was vegetarian, so he kind of did).  So here it is...

chicken and broccoli alfredo pizza
Fugu Friday

Fugu is a little sushi place close to our house (actually, they just expanded, so it's not so little any more).  We seem to go at least one Friday a month and for smaller celebrations (job offers, holidays, etc).  My husband has been desperately wanting some Fugu since Lent began... he even went one night by himself.  So he's really excited for Fugu Friday... and for the enchiladas... and for the po boys... and for the stuffed shells... and... and... 

Easter Basket Cupcakes - total time 1 hour


I think Mother Nature is trying to teach us a lesson... enjoy the sunny and 80 degree days because the next day there could be an inch of snow on the ground!  Oh my poor daffodils.  :(  What can you do...

Since it is cold outside again, might as well whip up some Easter treats from scratch!  My grandma used to make the best yellow cake and chocolate frosting ever!  She would make it when the whole family was coming over for a holiday dinner; Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas... and once in a while throughout the summer when my sister and I were over at her house during summer break.  To this day, it is the only cake I would ever get seconds of (unless you count cookie cake as a cake... and then that throws the whole idea out the window).  I can't quite remember what made her cake so special, I just remember really enjoying it.

My husband's favorite cake, as it turns out, is also yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  So I thought I would give it a go making yellow cake from scratch.  Turns out, it is egg yoke (not butter, like I originally thought) that makes yellow cake yellow (unless its a box mix, in which case there is probably some food coloring that makes it extra yellow).  He said these are the best cupcakes yet... and I've made so pretty darn good cupcakes (according to other people, of course... case 1, 2, and 3)

I had the idea of these chocolate shavings Easter baskets last year (because I don't like coconut) and it just didn't work out.  I used a vegetable peeler, which made the shavings too wide.  Then I used a grater and the chocolate melted in my hands.  This year I used my handy parmesan grater and it worked out nicely.  Knowing most people don't have room in their kitchen for an extra gadget (and a parmesan grater is definitely not a necessity), you could use parchment paper around the chocolate and take breaks to toss the chocolate in the freezer to prevent a melty mess.  Or you could use chocolate sprinkles and avoid the complication altogether!

Weekly Menu

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Wow!  What a gorgeous weekend!  The kind of weather you wish could be all year long.  Had no issues reaching my steps goal with my Up band because I just wanted to be outside walking around enjoying to weather.  Spring has officially sprung and I'm loving it!

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Snoop is loving it too.  It's been 6 months since he could roll around in green grass.  It looks like he is smiling in the second picture.  :)

We're in the home stretch of meat-free Lent.  I just placed my Green BEAN order for this week and it felt kind of weird adding ground turkey to my bin after a month and a half.  Truthfully, the only thing I miss is being able to pick from anything on the menu.  Most restaurants offer a few vegetarian options, but sometimes you're just not in the mood for the one thing... and removing meat from another dish leaves you with... sides.  It will be nice to have more options again (but then again, sometimes I can be pretty indecisive, so having two options to choose from makes my decision easier).

Alrighty... here's this week's menu!

fajita taco night
spaghetti bake (minus the ground turkey)
out for my mom's bday

Grilled Asparagus and Poached Egg - total time 20 minutes


Eggs are a great source of protein for vegetarians and omnivores alike.  There have been many studies and reports that go back and forth on whether eggs are healthy for you or not.  Some say that they are high in cholesterol and that people shouldn't eat more that one or two a week.  Others says it's the ultimate health food and should even be consumed raw.  I like to think reality is somewhere in between knowing that eggs are low fat, high protein, have dietary sulfur (great for you hair and nails), and the yolks have carotenoids (similar to carrots).  I also love eggs... so at this point of being meat-free for around 40 days now... we have gone through quite a few eggs!

With Easter coming up, eggs are center stage.  You may be hard boiling some right now to dye different colors.  Or you could be filling a bunch of colorful plastic versions with candy in the next few days.  Eggs are a symbolic message of rebirth, so the iconic Easter egg completely makes sense.  

Celebrate Easter with this quick, delicious brunch.  Perfect timing for asparagus which are at their peak right now and the buttery, runny yolk over top... just delicious!  We actually had this dish for dinner, it is quite filling with a side dish of crispy roast potatoes.  It's minimal ingredients and cooks quickly, the slowest part is that you can only poach one egg at a time, but they only take a minute or two.  :)

Green BEAN Delivery


We have been ordering Green BEAN delivery for almost a year now (here is my first post about it), so when they asked me if I would write a review, of course I said yes!  

I have been trying to eat more local, organic, and seasonal for years now.  Green BEAN makes it easy, you just place your order online and it arrives at your door step on your scheduled delivery day!  And delivery is FREE for orders totaling $35 or more.  Everything is fully customizable from how much is in your bin, what is in your bin, and how often you get your bin.  Green BEAN is the only company I have found that offers this much flexibility and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

You set up what you want your default bin to be; small, medium, large produce bins or pick a produce and grocery mixed bin (that's what my bin is), and you can change it when you are placing your order.  You also set your default frequency to every week or every other week.  I have mine set to every other week so I don't end up with more than I can eat during the summer when I have my garden and CSA veggies too.  I can add or turn off bins easily, so right now I am getting a bin every week even though my default is every other week, and when we go on vacation or won't be home on delivery day it is easy to turn it off.

Every week starts with a standard assortment of produce and every week that assortment is different (changes with seasonality).  You can keep the default, change everything, or do something in between.  I always end up making some kind of adjustment.  Each fruit or veggie that is available that week is listed in a drop down box with whether it is local, grown in the US, or grown in Mexico as well as whether it is organic, sustainably grown, or conventionally grown.  Just about everything is organic and grown in the US, but there are some things like bananas or mangoes that are really difficult to be both.

After that, you can add grocery items no matter what type of bin you have.  I use the 'local artisans' category almost exclusively to get local milk, yogurt, eggs, butter, meat, granola, coffee (roasted locally), and more.  One time I got a little carried away and ended up with three bins in one week!  (One of those bins was my Thanksgiving turkey.)

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When I first signed up for Green BEAN, I had some concerns, but after a few weeks I was hooked!  Some of my original concerns included keeping everything cold.  It's one thing if produce gets a little warm, it grows outside and half of it shouldn't be stored in the fridge any way.  It's another thing for dairy and meat to get warm.  When my first bin arrived with in a shipping cooler with ice packs and everything was still very cold hours after delivery, I was no longer concerned.  I also wondered about variety of produce, since I sometimes get 'stuck' with my CSA and end up having to order too much of one thing.  After a week or two of figuring out how to fully customize my bin, I almost had too much variety!  (The local produce selection does decrease during the winter, there are still a lot of options to choose from.)

My last concern was pricing, was it more expensive to order through Green BEAN than just going to the grocery store?  I would have to drive to the other side of town to have some of the options that I can easily select from Green BEAN, so in convenience, time, and gas... it definitely saves me money.  For the stuff I can get from the Kroger down the street from me... when comparing apples to apples (literally, hehe), Green BEAN is still less expensive in many cases.

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If you're trying to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, make sure they are in your house when you're hungry!  It's easy to grab the junk food if that is the only thing in your pantry.  With Green BEAN, you will always have healthy options to snack on and plan your weekly meal plans around.  If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask!  

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Everyone at work has been taking time off for their kids' Spring Breaks.  Man, I miss those days...I never really went any where on Spring Break, but it was always nice to have that pause from the day-to-day.  I hear a long weekend calling my name because two days just isn't enough!

Had a fabulous girls weekend with the fam.  We literally shopped until we dropped... then we rested, fueled up, had a drink, and shopped some more!  And I got to spend some time with this little guy... who added the little rubber duckie from my 'drunk duck' drink to his duckie collection.  :)

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When I got home, I could see my first daffodil of the season from down the road.  I literally jumped out of my car and took a picture.  Daffodils are just so bright and cheerful.  The ultimate sign that winter is over, and therefore, my favorite flower!

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Alright, since the weekend is over, it is menu planning time...

pizza night
veggie crunchwraps
out

What are you planning to make this week?

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Granola Bar - total time 1 hour


They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I've never been one to skip breakfast, I would never make it to lunch without gnawing my arm off.  So to keep my hunger at bay, I start most mornings with a quick parfait.  I loooove this granola I get from Green Bean delivery.  It is so yummy!  And I have tried a lot of different granolas, definitely all of the ones with chocolate in them.  But this one is definitely the best, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and a little chocolate.  Perfect way to start the day... top it with some berries and yogurt... even better!

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We go through this stuff like crazy, like, a couple bags every week.  It's kind of ridiculous.  But we don't always have time in the morning even for a simple parfait (I easily lose track of time before I have had my coffee... even after sometimes... so mornings can go from a leisurely stroll to a mad dash out the door pretty quickly).  So what's a girl going to eat when she's run so fast out the door that she forgot to brush her hair and her phone is still sitting on the kitchen counter?  Granola bars!  A quick grab and go solution.

You could probably just take premade granola and bake it into bars.  But where is the fun in that?  This way you control everything that goes into the bars and can feel good about what you're eating.  No added sugar and tons of protein and fiber... and so yummy... just like McCabe's granola.

It takes a bit of time from start to finish, but it's mostly hands off time.  I walked my dog while everything was cooling, came back, covered them in chocolate, and then went back out with Snoop to finish our walk.  Probably only spent 15 minutes in the kitchen.  Easy peasy!  

Weekly Menu

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Woke up to a yard covered in snow and Spring flowers blooming.  Crazy Ohio weather, it is supposed to be near 70 degrees tomorrow.

The crocuses I planted in the Fall are starting to pop up and give our lawn some color.  Not exactly as beautiful as Suzy's, but I'll take it!  Can't wait until the daffodils are blooming!!!

Here is my menu for the week... what are you planning to make?

veggie burrito bowls (didn't get to it last week)
sauteed asparagus with poached egg
grilled caesar salad
pizza pockets
creamy sundried tomato pasta

Veggie Calzone - total time 35 minutes


Do you like ricotta?  There are a lot of people that don't.  Most of them substitute cottage cheese to replace ricotta... that's just not an even switch to me.  Maybe you either like ricotta or you like cottage cheese.  Maybe?

I've been making calzones for years.  My husband and I call them Alley Doughs after consuming more DP Dough calzones than we probably should have in college.  I never thought to put ricotta in them... ever.  But lately I have been limiting the amount of meat I eat (and currently that is no meat) so I've been choosing the veggie calzones at Sarefino's and Little Palace, both of which have ricotta and are molto delizioso (starting to work on my Italian for vacation :))!  I might be bias, because I love ricotta, but I think it makes calzones so much tastier!

This recipe is for one calzone, but one is easily enough for two people.  If you finish a whole calzone by yourself in one sitting, you get a free tshirt and your photo on a wall somewhere in cyberspace.  And a nap.  Because you'll be so full you won't want to do anything else. 

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