Saturday, August 20, 2016

Healthy Banana Berry “Ice Cream” Pie


I recently learned about this awesome and super easy 100% real fruit ice cream pie from Yonanas.  This is something you can make for birthdays or hanging out on a warm day.  It won’t take a lot of time and every slice you are eating tons of fruit instead of tons of junk.  It really doesn’t get any better than that.  To make the pie…

Ingredients:

  • 32 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 4 frozen over-ripe bananas
  • 1 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries)


Directions:

1 >>> To make the pie crust: In a food processor, pulse the sandwich cookies until they resemble grains of sand.

2 >>> Press the crust into your pie pan and freeze until it sets.

3 >>> Take your frozen bananas and berries and put into a food processor or blender and blend until it turns into “ice cream” – and yes!  This really does work.  I use this exact same process to make my banana honey ice cream and it rocks!

4 >>> Use a spatula to scoop the mixed berry mixture into the cookie pie shell.

5 >>> Cover and freeze for a minimum of four hours.

6 >>> Let pie thaw approximately 30 minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Blue Apron vs Plated + BistroMD


This is a strange combo of meal services, but it’s what I naturally ended up trying the past year.  I am a really big fan of home meal delivery services.  I use to order from Organic Grocer and a bunch of other sites.  I’ve tried Door to Door Organics, the Healthy Snack Store.  The list goes on.

Over the last year I’ve been using Blue Apron but the entire time I’ve secretly been crushing on and dying to try Plated.  I’ll tell you how I got a chance to give them both a try below.  And in between I didn’t feel like cooking clean to drop a few pounds so I used BistroMD and that’s how they ended up on this list.

All 3 companies boast good healthy clean food.  The only difference between Blue Apron/Plated and BistroMD, is that BistroMD is ready prepared by chefs and are much more calorie restricted in order to lose weight.  As a mother, a shopper, a cook, a busy woman who has a lot of career success (which means A LOT of hours put in away from home), this is what I thought of all 3 systems.


Blue Apron

I’m going to end up the suspense here and just say that between Blue Apron and Plated, this is my favorite.  We use the family meals that serve 4 people and we get the full delivery 4 days a week.  As mentioned above we’ve been using them over a year.  A couple times we’ve had meals that weren’t mind blowing, but have always been good.  We’ve never received anything un-editable.


And with the massive amounts of deliveries we’ve had – we have had one slightly cracked egg.  And who cares because I raise organic free range chickens so I just grabbed another.  We had one recipe card missing and again, who cares.  They have them available online so that was an easy fix.  And one time we had a substitute ingredient and again, no biggie.  I was slightly sad about that one though because it was a really cool vegetable, Kolhrabi.  We ended up with a turnip instead, but the meal was one of the best I ever had.  The Vegetable Bibimbap.  My first bite in I didn’t care about the swap out.


We’ve cooked an insane amount of recipes.  Just recently we’ve made Crispy Cod, Cheesy Stuffed Peppers, Moroccan Pitas, Provencal Seared Chicken, Southwestern Cheeseburgers… the list goes on.  The ethnicity mix has been awesome.  I cook.  I cook a lot and I’ve cooked quite the variety of things.  But I hadn’t cooked Indian food or Moroccan food.  And I hadn’t really dove into Asian foods and didn’t realize it until we started Blue Apron.  This has really helped me branch out with recipes I look for online and with my cooking skills.


Plated

So, Blue Apron and Plated are from the same company.  They are trying to hit two different levels of home chefs and they are trying to hit two different demographic groups.  Which as a business is pretty smart.  Blue Apron is aimed towards more of low middle income and up plus the average home cook and Plated is no doubt trying to attract the upper middle income and higher who thinks they have some skills in the kitchen.

But the food is pretty much identical except Plated tries to go a little more exotic with ingredients which doesn’t necessarily equal better.  I would say that after my experience with Plated the thing I don’t like is the lack of interest a kid would have with the family meals.  No kid wants to eat shrimp lettuce wraps.  Not your typical toddler anyway.  If your kids are into it, super congrats on kids with a high end palette but also good luck with those future food bills.


I actually ended up using our food for a dinner party.  What happened with my first order is I was SO EXCITED about the choice of meals, the ability to upgrade to things like lamb and duck and you can add desserts!!  I decided to swap and give Plated a try from our usual Blue Apron.  Since I looked last year they had a family meal plan.  Already I was pretty peeved that it’s actually 3 servings.  So they don’t give you an abundance of food like Blue Apron where you are happily eating leftovers for lunch at work and saving even more $$ because you don’t have to go out of pocket for lunches.  And I have a family of 4.  What happens when my boys are bigger and eating us out of house and home?  We need 4 servings.  Families need 4 servings.  Teenage boys eat like zombies.

What I hated is that the second you changed to the family plan, you only had 4 choices.  Some of the BEST stuff was off the list.  There were no options for upgrades and you couldn’t add desserts!!??  I was immediately agitated.  Everything that made me put in my card and order was swiped away the second I changed my meal plan type.  I cancelled and of course they still sent my first week of food which was average.  My avocado was so overly ripe that it was like yogurt inside and had been smashed by something in the box.  It was disappointing but now I can stop thinking “the grass is greener.”  The dinner party went great where we unloaded all of the food so that’s cool.  I didn’t have to go out and shop.  But without massive improvements on choices and servings for families I won’t be back at all.


BistroMD

This was severely disappointing because again, I had this on a pedestal for years.  I found out about BistroMD 7 years ago and always wished I could afford to try them.  For a full plan with snacks you will drop $240 a week.

The riskiest part for them is that before you even receive your first week of food you are locked into your second and it’s charged and practically shipped at the same time.  So if you hate it or have a reaction, you’re out $480.  I can’t imagine that doesn’t backfire.  If you get something that is terrible and you ordered it in your second box, you’re stuck eating it.  And that absolutely happened to me.


My food came and I tried to appreciate it.  I found out very quickly that they make everything similar to fit into all of the plans.  So I thought I was going to get well seasoned amazing gourmet diet food because I was on the traditional women’s program and paying $9.00+ per meal.  No.  I had bland unsalted food that fit right into the low sodium diets and silver plans.  I had vegetables that were terrible.  They didn’t have their own flavor anymore.  I don’t know what happened.  And the texture was WAY off.  I was eating the chicken crepes for breakfast and it was all moosh (no crunch for balance) so I was really nauseated but trying to eat it because it was that or starve.  I had no other food option because I was on my way to work.  I was sick to my stomach for hours after.  I’ve had incredible clean food.  I don’t need salt and butter.  Something was certainly off.

Then there was the reaction that I was having.  I was having MASSIVE stomach pain and bloating after eating the meals and snacks.  Turns out everything is packed with whey protein concentrate and isolate.  I mean what the crap!!??  That made me furious, I’m not going to lie.  It was in soups and every meal.  HELLO!  That makes everything bland, oddly textured and tons of people have reactions to it.

It’s been 4 weeks since I’ve eaten the food and I’ve been taking a prescription for my stomach and I still have issues.  I’m waiting for that to clear up.  I’m uncomfortable and bloated 24/7.  And I’m sitting on $200 worth of food that I don’t have the heart to throw out and also don’t want to pass along to someone because I don’t want to torture people I care about.  I wouldn’t want to make people I hate eat that stuff.  It’s just all wrong.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Please Help Us Reach Our Goal

 
This year my husband and I have started a team again to walk and raise money for St. Jude.  Please, please, please… even if you don’t finish reading the rest of this post at least visit our donation page and make a donation at http://walkrun.stjude.org/courtneyjenkins.  What may seem like a simple $1.00 means the world to us and goes a long way when combined with the efforts of others.  It would be so greatly appreciated and I will tell you why and what we raise money for…
 
St. Jude takes the toughest childhood cancer cases.  They take the children in and do all they can to help save their lives.  The parents never get a single bill for housing, care, food... nothing, ever.  They can do this because of people like us and people like you helping to raise money and give what you can.
 
The fight is always near and dear to my heart especially after my father passing away from cancer in April last year.  No one should ever have to live through that.  It's sad when a grown man who has enjoyed and traveled the world goes like that, but nothing is more upsetting and unfair than when a child who hasn't experienced much more than his families love has to battle with this horrible disease.
 
Every time a child is saved, the research is passed on to other doctors and clinics and can save thousands more children.  It's an amazing cause and they are an amazing place.
 
I'm asking that if anyone is out there who wants to help, please click on the link below and donate to our teams walk.  100% of the proceeds we raise go straight to St. Jude.  We get nothing but the happiness of helping.  If you have nothing to give join our team and walk.  We would LOVE to have you.  Every bit of help counts.
 
Please feel free to visit our team’s donation page below and visit back to see how much we raise for the children.  And thank you so much in advance to anyone who pitches in, in any way.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

July is Just Around the Corner

Pretty much right after our Key West Trip our ducks finally came in!!  They are so cute and so different.  I’ve never raised ducks from babies but I can tell you I’ve been enjoying them a lot.  They are very, very different from chickens.  But, just like raising chickens, going from research to real life was completely different from what I was expecting.  I read all of these claims (massive amounts of reading) and then when it came down to it (once again), either I have a bird (green) thumb or other people have no logic/leave birds and don’t take care of them at all.
 
 
I would say the strangest thing that I read was a site saying not to give them water because they can’t swim/float for weeks.  Ummmmmm… have you ever startled a mother duck and her babies during the spring?  They always float into the water as a huddled group very quickly.  So unless they are packing secret hidden floatation devices under the water, all baby ducks swim.  Of course you don’t want to be a nincompoop (however you spell that) and leave them in something too tall to get in and out of.
 
 
So they swim, they swim good and they swim amazingly fast.  It’s their favorite thing to do.  It’s a funny routine.  They get some food, then walk to the pool and drink some water and make other weird noises with their bills.  Then after they do that a few times, it’s a brisk swim, some grooming and a nap.  It’s so adorable.
 
 
I think the funniest thing that happened is when I introduced them into the chicken coop.  Usually I’ll put a bird in there and the original residents want to come over to the new bird and attempt to let them know who is in charge.  The hens walked over, took one look at the ducks and just looked confused.  Like they knew they might not be chickens but weren't really sure.
 
 
Then I put the water in and the chickens were walking around and looking at me like “what is this for!?”  Then the ducks started swimming and it completely freaked the chickens out.  It was hilarious.  They didn’t run or anything.  They just stood in the corner and watched in awe with confused looks on their face.  I could not stop laughing.
 
I will say raising ducks might pose a challenge cleanliness wise.  Hens do what they got to do (bathroom stuff) but it all dries out fast in the sun.  They don’t play in water so they don’t make things wet.  So you have a nice, dry clean place that they rake and dig in so it keeps it dry all the way through to the bottom.  It’s really convenient.  They are pretty much self cleaning.
 
Now I have ducks that are making things wet.  For 2 days now I’ve tested out putting fresh hay in the wet areas to see if the chickens will help me get things stirred up and dried out.  It’s there thing.  They like the barn organized the way they like it so if I move hay around they will kick it back into place.  Which of course mixes it up with stuff I don’t want to touch and exposes it to the sun.
 
So far so good.  They’ve been mixing and keeping everything clean.  My backup is going to first be changing to litter if things keep getting slicked up.  After that I’ll have to consider putting the pool out of the run and the ducks will only be able to get to it when I release everyone to play.  And I hate to do that because they love to swim so much.  So I’ll keep an eye out and hope that one of the two first plans work out.
 
Besides that, the Silkies puffed up over the weekend when we were staying at The Raphael Hotel over at the Plaza.
 
 
Which by the way, I highly recommend.  They have Chaz on the Plaza right in the hotel so they do the room service.  We were getting Lobster Eggs Benedict sent up in the AM and dessert, cheese platters and port flights at night.  The room service is 24/7.  It was awesome.  The only thing that could put it over the top and make it any better is if they had a pool.  That’s the only thing I can see that they are missing.
 
 
While we were in the city we visited Lego Land and Sea Life Aquarium.  They were pretty cool.  One of those things everyone around here tells us you should go see once because it’s something you’ll hear about from everyone.  It's a local "must."  Then you really never need to go again.  And that felt fitting.
 
 
Now we’re just getting ready for the 4th of July and I’m doing some crazy household investments into organization.  It’s been a long time coming.  I’m basically trying to figure out how to work around everyone being messy.  I’ve been turning a blind eye since the kids were born and now it’s to the point where I need something to change.
 
Well, no one else seems to be trying any harder so I’ve decided to buy things to make everything look really, really, really good even though it’s technically a pile of million-year-old mail (for example, lol…).  I’m really happy with the results so far.  Some of the stuff I’ve purchased and it’s uses (and this could help anyone who is having a similar issue… these were amazing finds) …
 
 
I used these large woven baskets so that when I don’t have time to put away clothes, our room looks really nice.  Even though it’s technically lazy as all get out… haha.  I got a combo of colors and patterns and they make the room look all decorative instead of messy.
 
 
I got a large variety of boxes to organize things like our mail or mail piles that no one feels like going through.
 
 
I bought a ton of fabric storage cubes to organize underneath cabinets in a nicer way.
 
 
I bought a really nice wicker toy box for the kids so the toy area looks a little less ghetto.
 
 
I picked up a 5 shelf book shelf to make more sense of our bathroom area.  In our master bathroom we don’t have any type of closet so our things were scattered here and there.  I used an open book shelf to organize our stuff and that turned out really nice.
 
 
And it’s not one of the last things by any means, but I bought a TV stand for a clothes pile that is always lurking.  It’s nice because it’s a clothing cubby for now but if we ever do decide to put a TV in our bedroom we’re ready.
 
Then I’ve been knocking out getting things like dishes, silverware and other random stuff that just wasn’t matching.  I really let it slide.  I mean everything looked nice, but I knew how much I was digging to find round dishes so that it looked like we matched.  I’m in my 30’s.  Those days should have been long gone.
 
And last but not least, it’s been crazy hot here in the mid-west!
 

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Kids Birthday + Gifts + Birds

It has been some time since I’ve given an update so I thought I would fast forward to the most current time.  As usual we’re so busy hustling and bustling that the stories and pictures would be a bit much.  I’ll skip to three awesome current events.

1 >>> Key West Trip

The twins turned 6 in May so in honor of their birthday I took our family on a cross country trip from the mid-west all the way to Key West.  It was so much fun.  We stayed at Horse Cave in Kentucky then hit a restaurant I hadn’t been to in 16 years, The Crab Shack on Tybee Island.  I discovered it with my dad when we went to Disney Land fresh out of High School.  With him gone it was so fantastic to relive the memory.  It meant more to me than I expected.  We hung out for hours looking at the birds and the Cat Shack.

Then we stayed about 5 days in Key West and on the way back stayed at Okefenokee Swamp, then Graceland and did a drive by of Elvis’s place.  On the way back home we found this crazy little town that was so lovely.  It was on the Arkansas and Missouri boarder so we stopped at this little restaurant that had the best chicken livers ever.  I know, gross.  I love them, I can’t help it.


2 >>> Kids Birthday Party

For the kid’s birthday we had a simple little party with a French style cake that I had delivered from Neiman Marcus.  We cooked, hung out by the fire pit, did gifts and cake.  The usual.  It was a really nice time.  And yes, Parker did actually bite that cake and didn’t even care about it.  It was really funny and totally unexpected.  I guess he was really excited about the sugar that day.

 

3 >>> The Silkies

Our baby birds are doing great.  I think they are about 8 weeks old now so we have moved them into safety temp housing in our barn.  Basically what I’ve done is take our top open 3 feet x 2 feet extension cage and I put them in there so they can chill with the other birds in a controlled environment.  They can’t be picked on, the big birds won’t eat all their food and I don’t have to worry about them not being able to get back in the barn or something like that.

They are happy, have tons of room to play and are experiencing there intended final environment.  When I think they are big enough to get around, I’ll release them into my herd.  And our ducks will be coming in about 2 weeks.  Once the ducks are ready for the controlled outdoor pen I will release the silkies and finish off the same process with our ducks.