June Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

My foodie pen pal this month was Sloane from Florida! It was so fun to come home from an eight day trip and find a package of goodies waiting for me 🙂 I loved the Mango Coconut Water which I slurped down the second these pictures were taken… And the delicious Almond & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar was gone by the end of the night 🙂 (The almonds and sea salt were perfect together!) I have yet to use the Quinoa, Pesto or Risotto but I’m scheming up some delectable dishes for each. Thank you Sloane!

Want to know more about the Foodie Pen Pal program? Want to join? I highly recommend it! Check out the details and sign up here: The Lean Green Bean.

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Creamy Onion Coconut Curry Soup

Soup close-upI was inspired today while reading the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon. This fascinating book takes an in-depth look at good fat (animal fat, nuts, whole dairy, anything from the coconut, etc.) and the positive effect it can have on our weight and health.

 

diced onion

Halfway through page eight the idea for a delicious new soup struck me and I immediately jumped up and rushed off to make it.

Some trial and error later and I landed on the perfect combination of savory mouth-watering richness. If you love spice: add some cayenne pepper or extra chili flakes. Serve on it’s own or with some warm, crusty bread.

This soup is creamy and satisfying – the perfect dish for a rainy day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Coconut Onion Curry Soup

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2-3 pinches red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Finely dice the onion and add to the saucepan.
  • Cook on medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize (about 8 minutes).
  • Once the onions have caramelized slightly, add the curry powder and salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. (At this point the soup can be pureed if desired – either in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Take soup off the heat and ladle into bowls.
  • Spoon some of the coconut milk into the center of each bowl and lightly swirl in with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle the red chili flakes on top of the soup and serve immediately!

Makes enough for 2 large bowls or 4 appetizers.

Curry Coconut Soup

Practical Tips for Cleaning an In-Home Disaster Area

It happens to all of us. Or at least I hope it does – I would feel horrible if it was just me! You have a crazy-busy couple of weeks, you have to move everything out of your storage unit and try to fit it into the space you live in, you pack last minute for an eight day trip and leave a disaster in your wake. What about all three? 🙂 However it happens… You end up with a trashed room/apartment/house/whatever and when you finally do have the time (and energy) to clean you are overwhelmed as to where to begin.

Well I’m here to help! Not. actually. to help you clean… But to help YOU help you clean.

Start by doing some laundry (if you don’t have on-site laundry then just get it ready to go). Strip your bed, grab all of the dirty towels/clothes/kitchen rags and start a few loads!

Open a window and put on some music. Don’t let yourself be distracted picking out the perfect “cleaning” music – just throw on something upbeat and loud 🙂

Look around the space you are trying to clean and pick up anything that can be thrown away. Throw it away. The obvious is trash. The less obvious is stuff that’s been hanging around that you never use. If you are afraid to throw out something that could be “useful”, set it aside to donate to a local thrift store. Don’t spend too long hunting for every little thing that you could throw away – just take about five minutes and grab anything that obviously needs to go.

Pick up any dirty dishes that are lying around and stick them in the sink to wash later. If you only have a few and you happen to have an empty dishwasher you can go ahead and load them, but only if you have a few. Don’t want to get sidetracked on scrubbing cupboards! (Believe me… It happens.)

When you’re ready to begin putting things away, be sure to have a damp cloth handy to wipe down shelves and surfaces. You should try to clean as you go but try to only clean what is necessary. Don’t pull everything out of the game cupboard to deep clean the shelves. The goal here is to get your space in livable, working order! If you just really want to crawl into that closet and start scrubbing – make a note and plan on going back in the near future.

As you pick up and put stuff away, focus on specific types of things. Example: books, games, electronics, etc. Put away as much of one type of thing at a time as you can. It makes it easier to clean when you have a goal such as “Put away all of the books” and helps you to stay focused. Try not to be distracted by all of the cool stuff you find as you clean! (Other ways to look at the “groups” is by which room they belong in, what color they are or which activity they go with. This is also a good way to get kids to stay focused on a task!)

Don’t forget to switch the laundry!

Once you get most of the “big” stuff thrown away, picked up, folded or put away – start working on the smaller stuff. This can sometimes be the hardest stuff to deal with. Just looking at that collection of cords, batteries, pens, receipts, coins, notebooks, candles, tools and emergenC packets can be overwhelming! The same principle as above applies in this case as well. Throw away any of the papers and receipts that you don’t absolutely need. In fact – if they’ve been on the floor or in that old purse for a couple of weeks, chances are you don’t need them and probably only need to glance through them before tossing! Pick up all the writing utensils and stick them in a jar. Wrap up all of the cords and get rid of any old head phones and cell phone chargers that you haven’t used in the last 6 months.

Keep going until the only thing left to do is vacuum or sweep/mop the floor! Make sure that any empty surfaces have had a quick wipe down (including desks and window sills) and then finish the floors.

When your laundry is dry – re-make the bed, fold, hang up and PUT AWAY anything that was cleaned. As you are hanging up the clean clothes – try to pull out a few things to get rid of! An old shirt, a dress that no longer fits, a scarf that you were given but haven’t worn in two years. It’s amazing how easy and refreshing it is to clear out stuff you look at but never use!

(If the room you’re cleaning is the bathroom or kitchen you should first clean and put away anything that normally sits on the counter top so you have a bare space to work with. Next clean areas such as the shower/tub, toilet, sinks, stove top or microwave. Scrub and wipe down the counters and any open shelves. Lastly – clean the floors.)

Last step: bask in the cleanliness that you worked so hard to achieve!

 

I would love to hear how you clean when you have a big mess to work on. Leave me a comment below!

Bragging Rights & Chicken Curry Salad

I need to brag a little bit.

Recently I made all of the judge food for our Regional speech and debate tournament (about 120 people, 3 meals a day, 4 days). I had some excellent helpers! (See picture.) I couldn’t have done it without them.

Now the part that I’m bragging about is this… One day for lunch I made four salads. Southwest Quinoa, Chicken Penne Thyme, Greek Orzo and Chicken Curry. Everyone LOVED them! Everyone. I’ve received e-mails saying how great the salads were! (Everyone except some guy who wanted some meat. Beef to be exact. Chicken wasn’t cutting it!)

I love it when I can make people so happy that they won’t stop talking about it.

I thought I would share one of the salad recipes with you!

Chicken Curry Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp finely ground sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 4 cups diced chicken
  • 1 granny smith apple – diced small
  • 2 cups celery – chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup red onion – finely diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Optional – sliced grapes or chopped walnuts

 

Instructions

  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste, taste, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (It should be bold in flavor and taste slightly stronger than you want the salad to taste.)
  2. Add salad ingredients and combine well.
  3. Taste again and adjust seasonings if needed.
  4. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve as a sandwich or wrap filling or an it’s own. Enjoy!

 

For the Love of Cooking

There’s something about it…

The sharp stinging smell of freshly crushed garlic.

The satisfying connection as a sharp knife effortlessly slices through a ripe tomato.

The sizzle-pop as diced onions hit a pan coated in hot oil and the mouth watering smell that follows as they slowly caramelize in the heat.

The rainbow of colors that can be in an omelet pan or a shrimp salad.

Everything about cooking – I love!

Sunburns and Shade Fishing

I took a much needed trip to see the Fam for Memorial Day! Actually it was a total coincidence that I went over Memorial Day, I only had two nights off from the house and they happened to be Sunday/Monday.

Very little sleep and a long drive ahead. Yay!

Anyhoo – I left at 5:15am in a effort to make it to my destination in time for church. Perfect timing! It was so great to get out of town and see a different part of the state 🙂 Doesn’t happen very often. Even though I wasn’t super thrilled to be up and driving at that early hour, I did get to see a beautiful sunrise!

I had a great visit 🙂 Met new people at church. Made some great lemonade (see previous post). Walked a bunch on some all-around-town trails. Soaked up some SUN!!! Didn’t soak up as much sun as I wanted to – which is probably a good thing because I would have been buuuurnt 😉

Had a picnic and went fishing with the family! I gave my littlest brother a real fishing pole for his 7th birthday (it’s better then mine is!), and he couldn’t wait to try it out. He got pretty good at his practice casting before we even got on the water! Even though we spent most of the day in the shade (in hopes that the fish would be there too) I still ended up pretty pink at the end of the day. O.K. by me! The rest of these pictures are of our fishing adventure. If you see a finger in the picture – it’s my Moms 😉

First fish of the day and of Patrick’s life!!!

Biggest fish of the day!

Until next time. Keep fishing!