CSA recipe for late spring: Beef & vegetable lettuce cups with kohlrabi salad

So I joined a CSA this year through our local B&B Farms in Egg Harbor, NJ.  Last Wednesday was my first pick up ever and let me tell you something. I am in LOVE.  I can remember not even knowing what CSA stood for a couple years ago - it stands for Community Supported Agriculture-  and now it is my favorite thing in the world.  If you have the opportunity to become a part of a CSA and pick up fresh produce every week, I have two words for you: DO IT.

I picked up the most beautiful veg I have ever seen.  3 heads of lettuce, a bunch of beets, 2 heads of kohlrabi, a bunch of garlic scapes, a pint of arugula, 2 bunches of kale, and we picked 2 pints of snap peas ourselves.  I immediately started thinking of how to use these beauties.  The next night, we came up with some lettuce cups.  They were so good, I wanted to share the recipe in case you were looking for something to do with YOUR share this week. Lettuce cups


 Beef & Vegetable Lettuce Cups with Kohlrabi Salad

  • 1 head hohlrabi cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 carrots- 1 carrot cut into matchsticks, 1/2 carrot diced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • about 10 snap peas diced
  • 1 garlic scape diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 c soy sauce*
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey*
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • one head  lettuce, leaves separated
  • sesame seeds as garnish
  • *Make it Whole 30 compliant by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and eliminating the honey

For the salad:

Toss the kohlrabi and carrot matchsticks (save diced carrot) in a bowl with the sugar and rice vinegar.  Set aside.

Cup filling:

Add the ground beef, garlic, onion, snap peas, garlic scape, diced carrot, and peppers to a medium high pan and cook until meat is brown.  If you're using a leaner beef, you might want to add a small bit of oil to the pan.  In a small bowl, mix together the soy, sriracha, honey and ginger.  Pour over meat mixture and heat until warm.  


To assemble the lettuce cups, place two leaves on a plate.  Add about 1/2 cup meat mixture and about 1/4 cup kohlrabi salad to the top.  Garnish with sesame seeds and YUM! Just pick them up like you would a taco.  




What to make with those leftover Chinese food condiment packets

If you're like me, you just hate throwing away food stuff for no reason.  Whenever we order Chinese food, we end up with about 6 million extra little packets of duck sauce, 4 billion packets of soy sauce, and about infinity packets of hot mustard that I just KNOW can be used for something.  So yesterday I surveyed the packets we had accumulating on the kitchen counter from the past few order-out days and came up with a couple marinades and sauces for ya. Condiment collage

First, I used a few packets of mustard, duck sauce and soy to create a marinade for chicken which I skewered with broccoli and onions to grill.  

Next, I made a ginger and sesame marinade for some beef cubes using a couple more packets of soy and mustard.  I skewered them with some mushrooms, peppers and onions and grilled them too!

Finally, I made a ginger soy dipping sauce for the beef skewers and a honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken skewers.

Of course, you can go out and buy these ingredients, but if you already have these packets laying around they can save you some money!


Sweet and hot mustard chicken and broccoli skewers

with honey mustard dipping sauce Chicken skewers

  • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
  • 3 packets* Chinese hot mustard
  • 2 packets* duck sauce
  • 1 packet* soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar if rice vinegar isn't available)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 crown broccoli cut into florets and slightly steamed
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, vinegar, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating chicken and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

To make dipping sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of hot mustard, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp either coconut water or regular water.

Sesame beef and vegetable skewers

with sesame soy dipping sauce Sesame beef


    • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
    • 3 packets of soy sauce
    • 1 packet of hot mustard
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • 1 lb 1 inch beef cubes (sirloin works great)
    • 6-10 button mushrooms
    • 1 onion cut into wedges
    • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, sesame oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the beef cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating beef and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

For the sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of soy sauce, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, and toss in a few sesame seeds for fun.

 *Each packet contains about 8 grams (or 1.6 tsp) of each condiment.

I served these skewers with a blend of different rices and the whole family really enjoyed them.  Hope you do, too!

Do you have any good uses for all those leftover packets? I'd love to hear them!

Also, this is not a sponsored post.  These pictures represent the brands I have in my pantry right now.  

Egg noodles from scratch. Yes, you CAN do it!

Egg noodles

For 40 years, I allowed myself to be intimidated.  By an egg noodle.

A freaking NOODLE.

I always thought making egg noodles would be too difficult, so I opted to continue buying bag after bag each time I wanted some stroganoff or whatever.

The other night I was feeling a little brazen.  I wanted Big Grandma's Hungarian Goulash and I didn't have any egg noodles.  Instead of tearfully cowering in the corner like I would normally do, I stood up, straightened my shirt, and got out the flour and eggs.  I could DO THIS, I said to myself.

I put a cup of flour with a pinch of salt mixed in in a bowl and made a well in the middle.  I cracked two eggs in that well and beat them silly.  Then I gradually stirred the flour into the eggs along the edges until it was all incorporated and a nice little sticky dough formed.  

I stopped for a second to admire my handiwork.  Before the fear of failure crept back into my soul, I placed that sticky dough on my well-floured counter top and kneaded it for about 5 minutes until it was stretchy and smooth.  It took a lot of flour, about 1/2 a cup more. Then I took that little ball of doughy victory and put it in a covered container in the fridge while I made the rest of dinner.

After about 45 minutes, I took that dough out and split it in two.  I rolled out one half on a well floured tray until I could read a newspaper through it then I cut it into thin strips with a pizza cutter.  Then I took those little strips and laid them out on a cooling rack.

I boiled some salted water in a deep pan and threw in the noodles to cook for about 5 minutes then drained them.

Then I tried one.

SUCCESS!  They turned out so great that my kids actually finished dinner before me that night.  

Please please please don't let yourself be intimidated by a recipe like I was.  Try making our own egg noodles, too!  It really was easier than I ever thought it would be.  



Eat Right for Your Sight- a collection of recipes to help reduce the risk of vision loss from macular degeneration - review

Eat Right for Your Sight Cover
Growing up I always remember hearing that eating carrots will improve your eyesight.  That thought has always stuck with me because I truly believe that the fuel we put into our bodies directly impacts the way our bodies function.  Certain foods can have different effects on how different parts of the body act.  Carrots, for example, contain beta-carotene which has been proven vital to eye growth and development.  So it stands to reason that there are other foods out there that can help your eyesight as well.

I was given the cookbook Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM to review and was very happy to do so.  This cookbook lists many different benefits of the foods we eat and how they can help reduce vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  I personally do not have macular degeneration yet - unfortunately, AMD affects 10 million Americans- but plan on following the advice AND the recipes in this book to help stave off any effects that could present themselves later in life.

With over 85 recipes containing nutrient-rich ingredients, Eat Right for Your Sight is a gorgeous cookbook that I find very appealing.  The recipes all look right up my alley with vibrant colors, savory and sweet ingredients, and easy directions.  So far I have tried one of the recipes for Chicken with Mushrooms and Thyme.  I loved it and am happy to share it with you here:

Chicken with mushrooms and thyme

Chicken with Mushrooms and Thyme

from Eat Right for Your Sight

Chicken is dense in niacin, as well as vitamin B—which is good for energy metabolism—and phosphorus, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy teeth and bones.

    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds)
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the butter and olive oil over high heat in a heavy saucepan or skillet large enough to hold the chicken breasts in one layer. When the oil smokes, add the chicken breasts and season them with the salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and bake until the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms to the drippings in the pan and cook for about 1 minute over high heat. Add the vinegar and thyme and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add ½ cup of water and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste. To serve, slice each breast in half crosswise on the diagonal. Coat the chicken with the sauce and sprinkle with chives.

Check out the book Eat Right for Your Sight through my affiliate link on Amazon.com or at their website : https://www.macular.org/  or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/americanmaculardegenerationfoundation.


Recipes from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. www.theexperimentpublishing.com


Photos credited to Jason Houston.

Spicy mustard glazed corned beef

Up until a few years ago, I had always just followed the cooking directions on whatever brand of corned beef happened to be on sale.  But all that changed when I tried broiled corned beef at a friend's house.  She added a glaze at the end that knocked my socks off! I don't know exactly what she put in it, but I came up with my own concoction that I think resembles it pretty well.

This recipe isn't meant to change the way you cook your corned beef.  If you have a tried and true recipe, by all means, go for it!  (Or there are some good recipes listed below) This will just take it one step further for an awesome taste experience.  Adding a spicy, sort-of-sweet glaze and broiling it towards the end of its cooking time just makes it so tender and gives it a slightly crispy outer edge.   Mustard corned beef

Spicy Mustard Glazed Corned Beef

  • 2 Corned beef briskets -about 6 pounds total
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Cook the corned beef according to the package or your favorite recipe.  About 10 minutes before cooking time is up, remove the meat and set it on a broiler pan fat side up.  Turn oven on 400°.  Mix together mustard, horseradish, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Spread the glaze over the corned beef.  Be sure to hit all exposed sides.  Place in the oven for 10 minutes.  Then place the meat in a broiler for another 5 minutes or until the glaze is brownish.  Remove from the broiler and let the meat sit for about 10 minutes.  Cut on a diagonal and serve with boiled potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

I'm telling you, this glaze is life changing.  It tastes even better the next day on a sandwich, but truth be told I think I've only experienced that phenomena once... because we almost never have any leftovers! Hope you like it.



Famous Erica's Garlic, Beer, and Kielbasa Sandwiches with Sauerkraut

My friend Erica Allen just became FAMOUS.  If you look at the April edition of Taste of Home magazine, you will find her recipe for Cuban-Style Pork Chops right inside!  I hope you will check it out because Erica is an awesome cook.  She very graciously offered me this recipe which includes basically all my favorite food groups: kielbasa, garlic, sauerkraut and of course BEER.  
I love beer.
So without further ado... here's Famous Erica's recipe for:
Garlic, Beer, Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Sandwiches  Kielbasa sandwich- Erica Allen
    • 1 package kielbasa cut in 2 inch pieces then split
    • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
    • 1 can budweiser or any type but not light
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • Can sauerkraut
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
    • Long rolls
    • Mustard for condiment
Place cut kielbasa in pan cut side down.  Pour on 1/4 of the beer. Add garlic and brown over med heat uncovered.   Add paprika and pepper.   Add another 1/4 of beer when evaporated.  Add soy sauce and sauerkraut.  Flip kielbasa pieces.  Add another 1/4 of beer when evaporated.  Let cook on low.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar and mix in.  Continue on med heat for 15 min or until brown.  Transfer to oven to brown well at 350° for 15 min.  Add last bit of beer can , if dry.
Can't wait to try it, Erica!  Thanks for the recipe!

Easy Korean barbequed pork tenderloin and sriracha rice balls with Sky Valley sauce - review & recipe

I was sent a couple sauces from Sky Valley* the other day and was very happy to come up with a couple recipes for them.  The sauces they sent me were their Korean Barbeque and their Sriracha sauce.  Both sauces are gluten-free and made with organic ingredients and both are seriously delicious.

I decided on making some grilled pork tenderloin.  As I was mentioning it to my son that morning, he asked if I could also make some Korean rice balls with it.  Now, this flabbergasted me because I have never made Korean rice balls in my life and was pretty sure my son had never eaten them before.  So I questioned him.  He said one of his classmates always has them for lunch and they look good, so he was wondering if I could try making them.  Of course my answer was a resounding YES. 

The pork turned out beautifully and tasted great.  It was so easy.  Here's the recipe:

Grilled Korean Barbeque Pork Tenderloin

  • 1/2 bottle Sky Valley Korean Barbeque Sauce
  • 1 pork tenderloin

Marinate the pork tenderloin for about 4-5 hours in the Sky Valley Korean Barbeque Sauce.  Place on a medium/low grill (discard used sauce) and let it cook about 7 minutes on both sides or until it is no longer pink.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes and slice on a diagonal.  Serve with extra sauce for dipping. Easy peasy.

Korean food

I scoured the internet for a good Korean rice ball recipe and found that anything goes with them.  If you've got leftover rice in the fridge and really anything else that you think would go great with rice, you can make rice balls.  

I chose to make some vegetable ones using the technique found here at beyondkimchee.com.  Basically, you just place your leftover rice in a large bowl and mix in some finely diced sauteed vegetables (I used mushrooms, garlic, green onion, and carrots), a few sesame seeds, and a tiny bit of sesame oil.  Put on some plastic gloves and roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls.  I put a little dab of Sky Valley Sriracha on top for a kick!

Rice balls

 Check out Sky Valley foods available through OrganicVille Foods online through social media at:

Website: http://organicvillefoods.com/

Twitter: @Organicville, Facebook, and Pinterest

For Sky Valley Foods, their International Sauces are available here - http://organicvillefoods.com/category/products/international/.

 *no other compensation was given to me for this review.

Big Grandma's Cookbook: Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

This installment in the Big Grandma's Cookbook series might be my favorite so far.  These little cookie gems are what bring back the most memories of my grandmother.  She would make these for us as kids on special occasions.  When we would eat them, she would eat them too, very daintily with the tips of her fingers.  We would have milky, sugary tea in our own special tea cups she kept special for us in the china cabinet.  We felt so grown up enjoying the cookies and tea in that fashion.

But then we would devour them like animals once we left her house with our little box of leftovers.

I often wonder if Big Grandma did that, too, once we left.  Thoughts like that make me smile.

Some people call these cookies kiffles.  But that is a word I had never heard until last Christmas when my mom brought us some cookies that resembled Big Grandma's cream cheese cookies.  We all tried them and while they were delicious in their own way, they weren't the same.  Nothing could match Big Grandma's recipe.

So when I found her recipe in her little handwritten cookbook, I cried.  

I made them and watched as my kids devoured them in the same way my sister and I used to as  I ate them daintily with my fingertips just like my beautiful grandma.  My cookies weren't nearly as pretty as the ones she used to make, but the taste was spot on.  

Cream cheese cookies

Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Jam

*I had to take some liberties with the recipe as it was not really written with clear instructions.  I had to wing it a little bit.*


  • 1 lb butter softened
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese softened
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 -4 cups all purpose flour plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 jar apricot jam (or your favorite jam - strawberry is good, but a little sweet)
  • 1 beaten egg


 Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs until smooth.  Add baking powder to 3 cups flour and then gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.  You will be rolling out the dough, so if it seems too thin to roll add more flour by the tablespoon until it is thick enough to form a soft dough.

Roll thin (about 1/4 inch) on a floured surface.  Cut into 3 inch circles.  Fill each circle with a dollop of apricot jam and fold over the edges.  Brush each cookie with the beaten egg.  Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes of until they are light golden brown.

Even though you might want to grab one and eat it right off the pan, don't do it!  That apricot jam is going to be hot for a good 10 minutes after they come out.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and then enjoy!

Big Grandma's cookbook


It's a major award! It's a Liebster Award!

I can't believe it!  'What the heck's a bonbon?' was nominated for a Liebster Award by Jillian at I am a Homemaker!  I feel the need to give a speech:

I would like to thank Jillian and the Academy of other small bloggers out there.  I'd also like to thank my family who put up with so much... waiting for me to take pictures of their food before they are allowed to eat it...giving me "just one more minute" to "finish something up" on a regular basis...being the guinea pigs for just about everything my brain comes up with.  It's such an honor to be nominated...

What the heck's a Liebster Award, you ask?  Well, it's a cool award given out from writers of small blogs to writers of other small blogs as a way to say "Hey! You're alright!" and "I dig what you're doing!"  It's a great tool for finding fresh new reading material for you, too.

I was asked a bunch of questions when I received this major frah-gee-lay award. Here are my answers:

1. Why did you start blogging?

I forgot how much I loved to write until I started reading other blogs.  So I thought, hey!  I can do that too!  And I did.

2. Are you a Mac or PC person?

PC.  Although I do have an iPhone and can not for the life of me understand how to navigate a Droid.

3. What time do you go to bed at night?

10:00.  But I have been known to fall asleep on the couch much earlier. #partyanimal

4. If there was one major renovation you could make to your home for free, what would it be?

I would finish our basement.  Or put in a pool.  Or a basketball court.  Or...

5. Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms?

I am going to have to go with neither and give big props to Fruity Pebbles.

6.What is your favorite TV show?

Right now it's Walking Dead.  In the past it's been the X Files, Six Feet Under, and My So-Called Life to name a few.

7. Disney World, love it or leave it?

I loved it when I was there, but was able to leave it just fine.

8. What is your favorite flower?

Lily of the Valley

9. Give us the link to the post you feel best represents you and the purpose of your blog.


10. If you were a candy, which one would you be?

You know those weird wafer-like flying saucers that have strange sprinkles inside when you bite into them?  That's me.  Because they are weird.  And I am weird.

11. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love being able to write and make people chuckle every once in a while. 


Now it's my turn to nominate 11 more awesome small blogs out there!  Without further ado...my nominees are:

  1. Lindsey at Sisters to Sons
  2. Katie at The Modest Heart
  3. Pricilla at Bear Haven Mama 
  4. Gina at Embracing Imperfect
  5. Cassie at Not Our Ways
  6. Megan at Made to Bloom
  7. Bonnie at Espressos of Faith
  8. Nance at Leaning Alone on Jesus
  9. Alison at Kitchen Table
  10. Colleen at A Madison Mom
  11. Jann at Reflect | His Love and His Glory

 Now, the nominees will have to complete the following rules I was given:

  • Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  • Answer the questions given by the nominator 
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  • Here’s the hard part: Think up 11 new questions for the nominees.
  • Lastly, be sure to alert the nominees that you have nominated them.

Here are your questions!

1. How did you decide on the title of your blog?
2. Elephant or giraffe?
3. What is your favorite food?
4. Who do you look up to the most?
5. Would you rather cook or clean?
6. Soup or salad?
7. What's your favorite type of sandwich?
8. If you had the chance to change your first name, what would it be?
9. Tea of coffee?
10. What's YOUR favorite blog post you'e ever written? Give us the link.
11. If time travel were possible, would you do it?

Thank you for participating!  I can't wait to discover more small blogs by reading all your responses!

This was fun!

Carrot Cookies AKA: the ones I eat to make myself think I'm eating "healthy"

Taking a little break from the Big Grandma's Cookbook series to give you a recipe that is one of my family's favorites.  I adapted it from one I read a while ago in Taste of Home magazine.  The adaption came from my usual lack of having all the ingredients required, and I have to say it turned out fan-freaking-tastic.

Whenever I make these cookies, my kids call them the "healthy" ones because they have carrots in them.  I go with it.  Nevermind the sugar, butter and salt.  These fluffy, buttery, soft bites of deliciousness can make you see in the DARK!  

OK, they can't (as I'm sure you figured out). But they certainly will make you smile.  Please try them!

Carrot cookies
"Healthy" Carrot Cookies 

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots (squeeze out excess liquid if you can)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Stir in shredded carrots.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it slowly to the carrot mixture.  Drop them by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 in. apart and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Check them so they do not turn too brown.  You want them to be only very lightly toasty.

These are my favorite cookies to have with a nice cup of tea.  Enjoy!