Archive | October, 2013

WIAW: Easy Dinner Sides

30 Oct

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

I know that I really only do sporadic WIAW posts…however sometimes I end up with a bunch of pictures of food on my phone that I feel the need to awkwardly take…so might as well do something with them! If you haven’t checked out Jen’s blog yet- go now!  I don’t really have a full day of food to share, but looking through my pictures got me thinking about easy dinner sides that I frequently make.

Generally for dinner, I have a central “meat” and unless it’s a stir fry or curry, 2-3 sides I make to go along with it. I have a semi-picky husband…who so far I’ve really had to train in order to eat some veggies…but there are still some that he won’t eat. So therefore I generally have to make three sides for a dinner: one crossover one we’ll both eat and then another one for me and him respectively (not the most convenient thing but I love to cook so I don’t mind). It’s generally white potatoes or boxed mac and cheese I make for him and another veggie for me I make. Other sides include:

Sautéed or roasted cabbage


Roasted broccoli

roasted broccoli


Roasted cauliflower with cocoa and chili powder

Green beans with onions and garlic


Mashed cauliflower

Carrot Fries **we have these weekly!


Sweet potato rounds (or fries)



Roasted or steamed Brussels sprouts

Really the possibilities are endless. I never understand why people say they don’t like vegetables….obviously they’re doing it wrong! It never occurred to me to put recipes up for any of these since a lot are pretty simple but I guess looking at them now I will. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the sides until then!

What are your go-to dinner sides?

What creative ways do you like to cook vegetables? I put cinnamon on everything!!

EPIC bar review

29 Oct

****UPDATE: The amazing people at EPIC have given me and my followers a special promo code for 10%  anything you order- with FREE SHIPPING!!! So now you  have a reason to try them out! Just use this promo code: PENCILSANDPANCAKESAREEPIC

Happy Shopping!

I have a ton of amazing and quality products that I have on the burner to do reviews for, so I might as well start. But before I do, if you haven’t, you should definitely head on over to my Pencils and Pancakes Facebook Page and like it!! I am almost at 100. For some unexplainable reason I will be really happy when I have 100 followers.  Humor me, please!?!?

Anyways….First up: Epic Bars.


From the website:

The EPIC bar is a 100% grass fed animal based protein bar designed as nature intended. Paleo friendly, gluten free, and low in sugar, we believe that EPIC foods should inspire EPIC health.

I’ve seen them in the Paleo blogosphere so I was thrilled when I was able to get some free samples. When I Instagrammed this picture, everyone was like “what!?!? a meat protein bar?!?!?” And basically yeah- that’s how I would mostly describe it: a cross between a protein bar and beef jerky.


There are three flavors:

Turkey Almond Cranberry

Beef Habenero Cherry

Bison Bacon Cranberry

The taste is like a sweetened beef jerky, the texture is that of a mushy protein bar. Softer and less chewy than jerky. My favorite was by far the bison.


I won’t lie…have I had better tasting, sweeter, more addicting protein bars? Yes. Did said protein bars have un-pronounceable, sugary additives? Yes. If the quality of the ingredients is a high priority, and you’re an athlete or someone looking to get some quality protein after a workout I would recommend these over any other sugar/crap laden bar or protein shake. By far.

To me, just knowing it is a lean source of quality protein is enough to make them a winner. In the words of Cave Girl Eats…this bar says “B*tch…I’m a protein bar”. LOL

So..if you’re looking for a quality source of protein after your workout and don’t want to fall victim to the latest sugar-trap protein shake concoction…you should try these out! Or just order them and try them out regardless ‘cause you’re addicted to online food shopping like me!!

What are your favorite protein bars??

Do you ever eat beef jerky?

Asian Beef Stir Fry

28 Oct

Finally sitting down to blog about this awesome dinner I cooked up this past week!

I have been working on ways to eat all the ground meat we got creatively…you can only do so many meatloaves, burgers (my husband would disagree) and meatballs. Since we get our meat from a local farmer that does grass-fed beef, it can get quite pricey. That’s why basically all I can afford is the ground meat, sausage, and soup bones nobody else wants! So we end up with a lot of ground beef in our freezer and I have to come up with creative ways to serve it up. Poor me!

This is a variation on stir fry that I’ve played around with the ingredients for. This weeks combo was a winner.

Asian Beef Stir Fry Dinner

Paleo Asain Stir Fry

1 lb ground beef

2 large heads of broccoli, chopped

1-2 large carrots, shredded

1/2 can of diced pineapple

2 small heads of bac (pac?) choi, stems separated from leaves and chopped

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1/4 cup of beef broth


1 cup of beef broth

1/4 cup of tamari (or soy sauce or coconut aminos)

1 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tbsp of minced ginger


**Preheat oven to 375

1. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray or coconut oil and place chopped broccoli on. Salt and pepper it and place it in the oven (You could cook this by boiling, or adding right in the stir fry, but I LOVE the taste of roasted broccoli)

2. While broccoli’s cooking, brown the ground beef in a large skillet then drain (if you’re using grass fed beef there’s no need to drain. I hardly had any fat and what was there I used to cook with. But I would drain if using conventional meat).

3. Place tablespoon of coconut oil in the empty pan and let melt. Then add the garlic and let it become fragrant (I usually burn it. Don’t do that).

4. Add the chopped onion and the chopped STEMS of the Pac choi. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. While you’re doing this, start the sauce. Combine all ingredients of the sauce, bring to a boil, then simmer.


5. Add the pac choi leaves and add some beef broth in there to get it cooking down (You could just use water).

6. After the pac choi leaves are wilted, add in your sauce to the pan. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes.

7. Add back in your ground beef and then the grated carrots. At this time, check the broccoli. You want to roast it for a good 15- 20 minutes. Take out when done.

roasted broccoli

8. Let the whole mixture simmer for 5-8 minutes until everything becomes incorporated. Asain stir fry

9. Serve over the broccoli with pineapple on top. Drizzle with more tahini. Yum!


How do you get creative with ground beef?

How do you make inexpensive meat cuts yummy?

Cutting down on caffeine

21 Oct

I used to read people blog posts with the same title and roll my eyes. The fact of the matter is I’m deathly scared of cutting coffee out of my life. I love it. But upon recommendation of a book I am reading, and trying to deal with some symptoms I am having, I am trying to wean myself to one cup of coffee a day.


It’s really no big deal…..I usually only drink 3-4 cups so cutting down to one should be a piece of cake right? Right?!?!?! Plus I really think I am more mentally addicted than physically. I just love the taste and the smell. So decaf would probably be good for me.

Today was day 1. Here’s what I noticed:

*Woke up at 5:30 am, did my workout. Everything normal because I don’t usually have my coffee until after breakfast.

*Ate breakfast with lemon water. Found myself unusually hungry.

*Had my one cup of coffee on the way to work.

*Got to work- sort of sluggish. Kids kept me on my toes.

*Planning period: VERY HARD to get work done. Found myself fiddling with my phone way too much.

*Lunch period: more hungry than usual.

*Afterschool: Exhaustion setting in.


Now it’s almost dinner time as I type this. I feel relatively normal, just a little more tired than usual. And hungry. I suspect this is because I usually use coffee to distract myself from eating.

I hope that I can stick with it. Try to ask me about it on my blog so I can be held accountable!!!

Have you ever tried to cut coffee out?

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bake

17 Oct


Who doesn’t want pie for breakfast?!?!? I have been making this recipe and eating it for breakfast for the past two weeks so I thought I’d share. But I kind of lied. It’s not really pumpkin, it’s butternut squash. To me, the two are one in the same as far as flavor and consistency. And honestly I prefer butternut squash to pumpkin, but I doubt that many people on the internet will be searching “Butternut Squash Pie”. Moving on…..

Quick story about the glass pumpkin in the picture. Saturday some co-workers and I went to a glass blowing studio and made our own glass pumpkins. It was a fun, different weekend activity!




I received my pumpkin on Tuesday (they had to sit overnight) and Austin made fun of it because it was small. It’s harder than it looks!!

This recipe for pumpkin (butternut squash) pie has no added sweetener and can be eaten on the 21DSD as long as you use a green tipped banana! However if you’re not used to naturally sweetened desserts I recommend you adding honey or any other sweetener. I didn’t want something too sweet to start my day since I’m eating it for breakfast!

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bake


Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 45 minutes

Medium butternut squash

4 eggs

1 banana

2 tbsp coconut flour (can be omitted, makes it a have a thicker texture)

1 tbsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

dash of allspice

1. Start by chopping up your butternut squash. What I do is chop it right where it starts to become fat, then I peel the two sections.


After they are peeled I cut them both in half so I’m left with four pieces. Then I scoop out the seeds and then dice it up into 1” chunks!



2. Put your diced squash in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, approx 10 minutes.

3. After your squash has cooled a bit, set oven to 375. Puree the squash in a food processor with your eggs.


4. After mixture is incorporated, add banana, coconut flour (if using) and spices.

5. Pour the mixture into a (greased/sprayed) pie pan or deep baking dish.


6. Bake for around 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I ate this cold and/or reheated with coconut butter for breakfast!! It’s not super sweet and keeps me full. I definitely am going to do a sweeter variation for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving I think!!


Have you ever blown your own glass?

What’s your favorite kind of pie??

Paleo Apple Donuts

14 Oct

And so I continue with my baking experiments, as well as attempt to get as much use out of the donut pan I got for my bridal shower.

These happened in an attempt to make PaleOMG’s (do I link to that website enough or what?) apple cider donuts. After I got somewhat into it I realized I did not, in fact, have apple cider. Fail. So I decided to wing it. I’m really happy with the result. Especially since the apples I made these with are straight from our back field, that we FINALLY got a chance to navigate to yesterday. It took some climbing through thick brush and swamp, but we made it!


There were a few apple trees and after eating enough to give me a stomach ache sampling them, I shoved as many as I could into my pockets and headed out. They’re not pretty, but they’re delicious!


Since they weren’t aesthetically wonderful, I decided to peel some and do a little baking. You don’t have to use backyard apples for this recipe!


Paleo Apple Donuts

Makes about 15 mini-donuts

1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)

1 cup shredded apple (about 1 large or two medium…or 5 backyard teeny ones LOL)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 heaping teaspoon of baking powder

1 egg

1 tablespoon of raw honey

dash of nutmeg

1 tablespoon of coconut flour

**Pre-heat oven to 375

1. Beat your egg and mix together with the apple and almond butter until incorporated.

2. Sift in coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.

3. Add the honey and mix everything together.

4. Spoon small amounts into a GREASED donut pan (these would work as muffins too you just have to bake them longer).

5. Bake for roughly 10-12 minutes. Be sure to check on them. Take them out when they are turning golden brown on the top.



What’s your favorite way to eat apples?

Wedding: Reception and Details

12 Oct

Okay I bet you thought I forgot to do the rest of the wedding posts……..


I sort of did. But now I remembered. I can’t believe it’s been more than two months. Every time I go on Pinterest and see wedding things I die a little inside. At least now I can pin house decorating ideas. Who am I kidding? It’s not nearly as fun. Is anyone getting married? I’ll help you plan!!!!

I left off recapping the ceremony which took place right at the reception hall. This made it really easy! Since we did the pictures before hand all we had to do after the ceremony was snap a couple family pics then we were on our way to make it through the line of our guests at the cocktail hour. This was really important to us since we didn’t have a receiving line. We wanted to make sure we talked to as many people as possible. I’ll admit it was a little overwhelming, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to talk to everyone. But when the night was over I had at least said hello to every single guest.


Cocktail hour on the deck


Here are some of the details I spent hours obsessing over on Pinterest:


Escort Cards


The art teacher at my school made this cute sign for us!


Centerpieces with table number chalkboards


Our favors were shortbread key lime dipped cookies


My  mom made this amazing ring bearer pillow


There’s my burlap banner!


This was a big hit!


Yummy Cupcakes!


Grandparent’s wedding pics

We made our way in after the cocktail hour and immediately did our first dance, parent dances, and speeches.






The speeches were great!

Then after we ate (hardly even remember the food) we were basically free! We had to say hi to a few more people then the only thing “formal” left to do was the ice cream!!!! OMG it was SO GOOD! I want more NOWWWW




Good thing I have these pictures because the reception went by in SUCH a blur. I seriously wish I could go back and experience it again. It’s so bizarre how you spend so much time planning and obsessing and then it’s just….over. Ah, oh well.



Have you been obsessing over Pinterest for your wedding?

How do you feel about having a receiving line?

Participation Grade: Yay or Nay?

11 Oct

A school post!!! Sorry for all my foodie followers. I have to attend to the other half of my blog’s title. Since last post was about pancakes I figured this one would be a nice contrast. I love my students this year!!! My year is going great. I just started the new Common Core NYS Module Unit 1. More on that later……


When I originally started teaching I used to be all for participation/effort grades as a component. I thought it would be a good motivator for students who don’t want to put effort in or raise hands (especially if you have a shy class which I hate). Then I kind of figured that:

– If a student doesn’t hand in homework or classwork, they will get zeros, and that in itself shows his effort/participation grade.

– Participation grades are kind of redundant since if students give their full effort usually they are doing well.

– If a parent has an issue with a participation grade, it’s kind of hard to “back up” whatever grade you’re giving them because there’s nothing really concrete about the grade.


So I haven’t been doing it the last couple of years…BUT this year I brought it back. In order to combat the issue of having nothing to ‘back up’ I’ve created this rubric.

Students first fill out this rubric and circle where they think they’re at. There are also reflective questions they have to answer and provide examples for. Here are the questions I gave them. I got them somewhere on the internet, but I seriously don’t remember where. I didn’t make them up. I probably just Googled “participation questions” and copied and pasted them into a word document.


1. Do you initiate working and learning most or all of the time in this class, or does the teacher have to push you a lot?





2. Do you take risks and try challenging tasks in this class even if you make mistakes (and learn from them). Or do you “play it safe” most of the time?




3. Do you try to teach other students if you understand something more than they do? Do you just give them the answer, or do you help them learn? Or do you only focus on your own work and ignore students who need help?




4. When you don’t feel like doing the assignment, most of the time do you do your best anyway, or do you try to put it off and/or not do your best?





5. Do you act professionally and exhibit proper classroom etiquette most of the time, or do you choose to violate classroom rules and expectations and engage the teacher in argument?





6. Think about the answers you made to the last five questions, and think about the quality of your school work this quarter — tests, classwork, computer assignments, etc. What grade do you think you deserve and why?

So as I was first grading these I thought it might have been overkill……because like I said the kids that try the hardest and participate already have the best grades.


Then as I continued grading I could really see how this could be helpful in my classroom because:

-The kids who participate will get positive reinforcement for doing so.

-The kids who need to put in a little more effort can take a minute and really think about how they can change.

So I think this will have a positive outcome in my classroom. Only time will tell. If a parent wants to see why I gave a student the grade I did I can simply pull out the rubric and the questions.

What do you think? Is it pointless to have a participation grade or do you think it helps efficacy?

Giant Baked Paleo Pancake

9 Oct

I seriously sat down to type this blog post almost an hour ago…it’s so easy to get sucked into the interwebs! My cat has fleas. This weekend we finally moved into our new house and it looks like the old owner’s cat must have left some behind. Ugh. He didn’t leave us anything useful. Just fleas, old army memorabilia and the 100 billion stickers his son put on the wall in his bedroom. Great.

But other than that I am THRILLED to finally be in our new house. I will do another house specific blog post but here are a few pictures from moving this weekend.




Celebratory drink…been waiting for this one!!


Last week I talked about blogger recipe development and it got me to thinking that normally when I bake things, I have to follow a specific recipe. But recently I have been experimenting with “winging it” when baking and have finally come up with one I could share!

I often throw together some sort of bread/muffins/quiche to eat for breakfast that I can quickly warm up. I was about to make zucchini pancakes to warm up one night last week but decided I didn’t want to bother with the griddle so I just poured the entire batter into a loaf pan and came up with this recipe: the Giant Baked Paleo Pancake. This would be approved on the 21 day sugar detox if you used a green tipped banana. The 21 Day Sugar Detox book comes out soon…so does Well Fed 2! AND I just saw today that Juli at PaleOMG and George at Civilized Caveman are joining forces to write a book. So many Paleo books..what do I do?!?!? Hello Christmas list!!!!

Giant Baked Paleo Pancake


Makes 2 servings, Prep Time: 5 minutes, Bake Time: 25 min

3 eggs

1 cup of shredded zucchini (take the measurement AFTER you squeeze the water out)

1 banana

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

2 tablespoons of coconut flour

dash of salt

handful of Enjoy life Chocolate chips

**** You COULD add 1 tablespoon of honey and I highly suggest you add sweetener if you aren’t used to naturally sweetened baked goods. I thought of this more as a savory dish than sweet so I didn’t need it.

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Shred the zucchini in a food processor and squeeze all the water out (I used a paper towel).

2. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and bananas and mix well. Then add zucchini.

3. Add the cinnamon, coconut flour, and baking powder and salt. Then add chocolate chips. Mix until incorporated.


Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Make sure to check on it because my oven is really weak.

I ate mine topped with sunbutter- duh. I was talking to a friend about substitutes for ketchup and salad dressing…..and I came to the realization that I don’t really use these two things anymore. And I got to thinking what I could tell her to use instead and what I used. Then I realized I literally put nut butter on everything….including carrot and sweet potato fries….eggs….and THEN I realized why I PROBABLY have gained a bunch of weight since my wedding. Woops. Oh well. At least it’s not a mystery….

Do you ever experience with baking?

What challenges did you face moving into a new house?

Recipe Development and Blogger Expenses

2 Oct

I just got done a delicious dinner of home made stir fry with ground beef, roasted broccoli, peppers, onions and pac choi. As I was sitting there eating it I thought….man I wish I took pictures so I could blog about it!

I did, however, get a picture of the Pac Choi that I posted on my Facebook page. This was my first time cooking/eating this vegetable and it was yummy! Kind of like a cross between collards and cabbage! Sautéed in some lard and onion and garlic.

pac choi

But throughout the whole time I was cooking it I was kind of just throwing random stuff in the pan, thinking that it would taste good. I wasn’t planning on blogging about it. It got me to thinking about the different processes bloggers might use when developing and deciding which recipes to include on their blogs.

Do you have a plan that you are going to use a certain recipe on your blog? Or do you just wing it and take a picture of it afterwards? Sometimes I do this and other times I’ll even take a picture of the meal after I’ve taken a bite!

Other times I’ll have a specific plan and know that I am going to blog about something, attempting to set pictures up and everything. Pictures are something I really want to get better at. Right now I use my iPhone, lol. But I’m starting to realize that I might have to get something better if I’m serious about blogging. Suggestions?!?!?

I’ve also noticed that, more recently, I really don’t follow too many recipes when I cook. More and more I’m learning how to develop recipes myself and I’m pretty excited about it. When I first started cooking about two years ago I would follow a recipe to a T for every meal. Now I can pretty  much browse Pinterest or blogs, get an idea, and wing it. I’m proud of myself! When I have a good recipe and I managed to take pictures of it along the way, that’s when I decide it will go on the blog. I never re-post other people’s recipes without giving credit.


My home made spaghetti sauce- I haven’t shared the recipe yet but I’m sure I will sometime soon!

Another thing I got to thinking about was the fact that bloggers DO actually spend a lot of money on the materials for their blogs. Especially if it’s a professional site. I can’t help but wonder how some bloggers can afford to get all these expensive ingredients and then come up with elaborate things like  Paleo baked goods EVERY.DAY.

For one- do you realize how expensive Paleo baking supplies are (almond flour, honey, nuts, nut butter, etc)???? And two-  I find myself wondering where, once the blogger has developed, made and photographed the recipe, do all these yummy desserts go!?!? Certainly if I had goodies like Taylor Made it Paleo’s pumpkin donuts laying around the house every single day I’d put on like 50 pounds!!


They didn’t last a week!!! Here’s another one of her desserts:


Sticky Fig Bars

How do bloggers make all these delicious goodies and not be tempted to eat them all the time??! I give you props bloggers! Baking is something I really can’t develop recipes for, so most of what I make for recipe development involves dinners and side dishes. There fore I don’t have the problem of yummy treats laying around all the time!

Anyways, this was just something I was stewing over and thought would make a good conversation.

How do you decide which recipes go on your blog?

Do you follow a lot of recipes or make up your own?

Where do your desserts and baked goods go after you make them?!?!

The Domestic Man

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