family · food · life

Is pasta a protein?

Mom, is my pasta protein? No, it’s a carb. But, I thought you said that gluten is the protein in wheat, so doesn’t that make pasta a protein. Ummm, Ummm, it’s carb that has some protein OK!?!

That was my conversation with Colby last night.

When I went back to work, one of the things that became the boys responsibility was making their own lunches. At the time, they had Sistema To Go Collection Lunch Cube Food Storage Container, 47.3 Ounce/ 5.9 Cup (2 Pack) Clear with Assorted Color Accents to pack their lunches. This is divided into three sections. They learned to pack a protein item into the large section, a fruit/veggie into one of the smaller and a junk into the third section. To this day, even though they don’t have these cubes anymore they still pack a protein (meal), fruit and junk in their lunch. So what constitutes a protein has often been and still continues a topic of conversation.

Over the years, the boys have taken to reading the labels of many food products. They look at the proteins, sugars and calories in the items they eat. They have learned that they need to increase their protein if they want to build muscle. They know that sugars tend to be empty calories.

While we don’t want them to feel they can’t have certain foods, we are trying to help them see how to pick certain foods in moderation. This doesn’t stop them from debating over whose food choices are better and typically who eats the better protein foods.

We still are working on what foods go into what food categories evidently, but hey at least they are thinking about food choices already, even if it is to challenge my responses.

**contains Amazon links, please read my disclosure statement**

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food · life

Tuesday calls for cooking?

It’s Tuesday! Today is a cloudy, rainy, overcast day. We got a notice last week saying that they were doing work on the electric in the area and we would lose power from 8-1 today. Well, it’s 10:22am and the power is still on. I didn’t go to the grocery store or plan any other activities so that I was home today to deal with the dog. When the power goes out there are all kinds of things that make beeps and alarms going off, and Dixie doesn’t like noises like that.

So, originally we only menu planned through yesterday. Last night Blake suggested having pasta for dinner tonight. I decided to make the sauce to go with it too. We had burgers last week and I had purchased extra ground beef since it was on sale. I love being able to make my own sauce. Ground beef, onion, pepper, seasoning mixed with diced and crushed tomatoes…. meat sauce!

I also decided to bake cookies. I decided to make lemon lime cookies since I had a lemon and a lime in the fridge. I found a recipe I liked and ended up tweaking it a bit. I added in orange zest and change the extract with lemon and lime juices.

I think I’ll toss some ingredients into the bread machine and make rolls to go with dinner tonight. I decided on this recipe.

So I guess the fact that I’m waiting for the power to go off hasn’t stopped me from cooking/baking.

What is your go to item when you don’t have a meal planned? Do you make your own spaghetti sauces? Hope you have a great Tuesday!

food · life · reviews

Sir Pizza and Sorgels

Tonight we had decided to go out to eat. We decided to try a different pizza place. I had read about it in an article stating pizza places to try in the Pittsburgh area. So off to Sir Pizza we went. We ordered a large pizza, half pepperoni and half bacon. We also ordered an Italian Hoagie.

Blake was the only one who liked the pizza. Colby didn’t like the bacon, and if you know Colby you know that is an odd statement. Richard and I didn’t like the sauce they use. The crust was ok. It was really thin, but not really crisp. The sub was cut into 4 pieces. The first slices that Richard and I had were decent, but then when we went back to try the other slices they were soggy from the dressing they put on it. I ended up pulling the ham off my slice to give to Colby and then just ate the rest of the meat off the roll. It was certainly not worth the calories.

After we were done, we drove across the street to Sorgels. Sorgels is a family owned farm that has a garden center, grocery area, ice cream stand, deli, Natrually Sorgels (allergen free, gluten free and other products such as that) and a gift store. This is where we go to strawberry and blueberry pick in the summer and apple pick in the fall. We haven’t been there in quite a while. We decided to walk through the garden center. Then we went into the grocery area to their bakery where they bake all kinds of yummy things daily. We purchased peanut butter cookies for Colby, doughnuts for Richard and Blake, a brownie for Richard and I to split and two quick breads (blueberry and apple cinnamon).

After that, we went to the ice cream part and go ice creams. The four of us sat down and enjoyed our ice creams. It was nice to just sit and relax outside and enjoy having a sweet treat together. I got cinnamon bun ice cream, this was very tasty.

So while dinner was a flop, we did end up enjoying our time together and who doesn’t enjoy ended the day by eating ice cream?

food · life

Some days you bake bird food

Yesterday I took the honey “bourbon” chicken recipe and used it with pork butt. My goal was to make honey “bourbon” pulled pork on homemade rolls. Well…. this isn’t exactly how it turned out.

First I decided to make this in the crock pot. I didn’t think the pork would cook well in the electric pressure cooker. I also had just seen a test where the person tested cooking pork in a pressure cooker, a slow cooker and a dutch oven. The dutch oven did the best and the pressure cooker did the worst. Well, shockingly, I don’t actually have a dutch oven so into the crock pot I put my pork.

Since I was cooking it on low for hours I decided to add a splash of chicken stock, which in the end I didn’t need since there was more liquid than needed. OH well!

I also decided to try out a new roll recipe. I found a recipe for french hamburger rolls made in the bread maker.  When the dough was done I knew it was wrong. I decided to try anyway. This dough was SOOOOO sticky I had to incorporate more flour into it so that it wasn’t all over me, the counter, and everything else. This then meant that the dough was overworked. I plowed on and baked them anyway. They had no flavor and were soooo dense and didn’t rise. So out to the birds that batch of rolls went.

I decided to make rice and quinoa to have with the pork.

It was pretty good, the texture was good, but it just wasn’t the taste I’d anticipated. OH well… such is life. Some days your rolls rise and taste yummy and some days you make bird food.

family · food · life

Favorite Foods… family addition

Happy Saturday!

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a few people posting about their favorite food items. I decided to take this and Lori-ize it. So you are going to get our family version of the top 5 food items.  Here we go:

Colby:

  1. Pasta- Colby would eat pasta all day every day if I allowed him to. I try to limit it to a few days a week. His favorite right now would be anything with Alfredo sauce
  2. Peanut Butter- He loves to eat this on a spoon, in a bowl or on a sandwich. He puts it with chocolate, honey or jelly.
  3. Steak- Colby has recently learned about the joys of filet minion. When we have gone on the Disney Cruises he eats steak almost every night for dinner.
  4. Stromboli- especially if Richard makes it at home
  5. Bacon, Bacon, Bacon- need I say more?

Blake:

  1. Pizza/ Stromboli- Blake LOVES pizza and tries to have it every week on the menu
  2. Cheese- Blake eats cheese 24/7, by the slice, shredded, in sandwiches or any other way he can have it
  3. Chocolate- anything sweet Blake eats has to be chocolate
  4. Quesadillas- This is something Blake makes almost every time we have fend for yourself (FFY)
  5. Chips- Blake eats at least one single size bag of chips every day.

Richard:

  1. Steak- Give Richard a rare to medium rare steak with the right seasoning and he is more than a happy camper
  2. Subs- This is reason we go to DiBella’s almost every weekend. He enjoys Italian, cheese steak and well… so many more
  3. Pizza- Richard not only loves to eat pizza, but he also loves to make his own pizza
  4. mint chocolate chip ice cream- This is his absolute favorite ice cream. He picks this as his flavor for sundaes, milkshakes and any other ice cream products
  5. fajitas- chicken or steak doesn’t matter… with or without onions and peppers… the drippier the better
  6. brownies- this is Richard’s go to desert

For me…

  1. Chocolate- do not give me the cheap stuff!  Ghirardelli, Lindt Truffles, Dove are my go to. Now don’t get me wrong give me a Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I’m happy, but there is something about the quality chocolate you can’t beat.
  2. Hummus- that stuff is addicting! I love it on tortilla chips, on chicken, on pretzels, on carrots… hummus is good! I need to make some of my homemade hummus to share with you one of these days.
  3. Fruit- the fresher the better. I can’t wait for the berries to be ready to pick
  4. Anything we didn’t have yesterday— I enjoy leftovers, just not the next day. I hate having to eat the same kind of foods for multiple days in a row

UMMMMM…. UMMMMM I don’t know if I have a 5th thing. I’m not a person that has a ton of favorite items. I like a lot of different things but I’m not an OMG I have to eat this. I like to switch things up a lot as I easily get bored with foods.

Join the fun… what are your favorite foods?

 

 

 

family · food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ok so yesterday I didn’t write any posts, and today you get two (and both are recipes I made yesterday)! Earlier I posted a sweet treat recipe, chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars, that I made yesterday. One of the ingredients of this treat was honey. Now as I mentioned in that post I do not actually like the flavor of honey, but Richard and Colby both love it. I have a HUGE bottle of honey that I purchased at Costco. It was put to use yesterday.

For dinner last night we had Honey Bourbon Chicken made in the electric pressure cooker. I read through the recipe and my first thought was…. ummm where is the bourbon? When reading the comments they said that this was “Bourbon inspired”. One of the people also responded that if you cook with alcohol in a pressure cooker it does not cook off the alcohol… ok let’s try this anyway!

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Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I grated it with my microplane)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • red pepper flakes (I did a few shakes of the container)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP water

Put all the ingredients (except cornstarch and water) into the electric pressure cooker

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes

Let it release pressure for 5 minutes then finish releasing the pressure manually

Remove the chicken and dice it up into bite size pieces

Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry, then add to the cooking liquid. Stir to dissolve completely

Return the chicken to the pressure cooker

Set to saute and cook for an additional 3 minutes to thicken the sauce

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I served it with red wheat berries that I toasted and then cooked, adding a bit of butter at the end of the cooking process. Colby said this made it taste a lot like popcorn. We also had a raw carrot. Colby ended up eating two since he took the one off Richard’s plate too before he got home. No worries, I peeled another one for Richard.

I tried everything separably, but then put the chicken and wheat berries together and it was so yummy.

The chicken was really tasty. Colby felt it had a homemade bbq flavor, I don’t think it did, but hey if that works for him… then go for it dude. Colby ate 2 carrots and 2 servings of wheat berries and one serving of chicken. Blake ate 2 servings of chicken, his carrot and a nibble of wheat berries. Then, when Richard came home and was having dinner, Blake had a 3rd serving of the chicken. I’d say he really liked this one. Richard enjoyed it too.

I really wish the sauce ended up thicker. I think next time instead of thickening the sauce in the pressure cooker I’d transfer it to a pot and cook it in there so that the liquids can evaporate and thicken. Richard suggested reducing actual bourbon in a pan and adding it to the chicken mixture in the thickening step. This would add the bourbon flavor, but not the alcohol.

I think we will be trying this one again!

 

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Yesterday I never did get around to writing a blog post, I’m not sure why, but oh well such is life.

I saw the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bars and thought they looked rather yummy. Who does’t like chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, oh wait I know a few people who don’t, but I like them and that’s what counts, a lot of people like them and that is what’s important.

I made them yesterday… well I made something similar anyway. I followed the recipe, but then “Lori-ized it”. And, as soon as I tried one I was already re-writing the recipe in my head.

This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided) Image may contain: dessert, food and outdoor
  • bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 4 oz. box Reese’s Pieces candy
Peanut Butter Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate layer:
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a siltpad
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth. (my microwave has a melt chocolate setting so I used that, but this is the typical way to melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it)

For the peanut butter sauce:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add honey and sugar and stir well to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

  3. Stir in vanilla

     

Assembly:

  1. Spread the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet, don’t worry about neatness aim more for a similar thickness across the surface area used
  2. Top with pretzels and Reese’s Pieces. You can put them down at random, or be more like me and spend time making sure they are evenly spaced out (ok a bit OCD there, but hey what can I say?) Lightly press into chocolate
  3. Prep peanut butter layer. I had enough to spread it in an even layer over the whole bar
  4. Add an additional layer of the pretzels and press into peanut butter layer
  5. melt remaining 4 oz of chocolate and drizzle over the top of everything.
  6. Refrigerate until solid.
  7. Cut or break into pieces
  8. Enjoy!

OK… now here is how I’d change it next time!

First I felt this was very honey forward. I would either use 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of agave nectar or switch it all to agave nectar (I am not a huge honey fan even though both Richard and Colby love the stuff and eat it all the time).

Also, I would add salt to the peanut butter layer to bring out the peanut butter flavor more than just the sweet of the honey/sugar combination

I liked the double layer of pretzels (that I already changed from the original recipe), but felt the Reese’s pieces got lost. So you either need to double the amount you use or add peanut butter chips or even peanut M&M’s to up the peanut flavor.

Finally I would put more of the chocolate into the bottom layer maybe only reserve 2.5 oz for the top so it was a true drizzle and not a full layer of chocolate.

Colby tried these out as his after school snack. He loves peanut butter and chocolate together. He loves peanut butter and honey together. He always eats peanut butter and pretzels together. He LOVES  Reese’s Pieces. So this treat was right up his alley. Richard also enjoyed them when he came home from work. I guess I will be making these again, but next time I’ll “Lori-ize” them even more!

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food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

food

Time to Menu Plan!

I realized that I”m running out of milk and need to go to the grocery store tomorrow, so we are menu planning now.

Here’s what’s Image result for on the menu

Tuesday: ham steak and fruit

Wednesday: Honey “Bourbon” Chicken in the electric pressure cooker– not sure why it’s called honey bourbon when there’s no bourbon, but it sounds good anyway

Thursday: FFY– the boys have biking again

Friday: Orecchiette with mini meatballs

Saturday: out?

Sunday: pizza something with Alton’s pizza dough

Monday: FFY– the boys have biking again

Sweet treat: Chocolate Peanut butter pretzel bars

 

— Side note, if you wrote a comment on Blake’s Peace, Love & Little Donuts’s post the other day he will get back to you tomorrow… I think

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Peace Love and Little Donuts review– by Blake

On May 5th, 2018, my mom suggested that my dad and I could go to the Peace, Love and Little Donuts in Wexford, get some donuts, and then I can do a review on it. It was pretty small, and it looked like this:

Image result for peace love and little donuts wexford Pretty interesting, huh? So, my dad and I walked in, and it looked like it opened in the 60’s or 70’s. There were a lot of old band posters dating back to that time, and here are a few of them:

2018-05-05 08.49.19

You can obviously tell that they’re pretty old. The donuts were divided into different sections, with different prices for each type, along with more band posters, as you can see:

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So, as my dad and I were looking around, I noticed something that was really cool:2018-05-05 08.49.25

The one thing that you can’t see, but it was probably their slogan, was: ‘Feed your inner hippie.’

I then decided that I’d get two chocolate chip donuts, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips on that. We got a half dozen donuts, so we got the two chocolate chips, a maple bacon that we got for Colby to try (he didn’t, but my dad did), which is a donut with maple syrup with bacon on top, a chocolate pretzel, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and then two pretzel sticks on top, a cinnamon sugar donut,  which is a cinnamon donut with sugar on it, and a cinnamon donut, which was a cinnamon sugar, just without the sugar. We then paid (and it pretty cheap) and went home. This is what all the donuts looked like:

We all (except Colby) tried one, and they were pretty good. It turns out they were cake donuts, which I’d never tried before. I finished one and had the other one today, May 6th.

All in all, this was a pretty good place. There’s multiple of them, one in Wexford, one in Pittsburgh, and one in Cranberry.

If you’re in a donut mood in Western PA and want to not use a lot from your budget, head on over to this place that I’d definitely go again. You won’t regret feeding your inner hippie.2018-05-05-08-50-04.jpg