October Foodie Penpals

I’m a day late, but I am so pumped to tell you about this month’s foodie penpals!

I sent a package to Susie in Indiana…she recently moved there from Chicago and couldn’t be happier!  I have to say that this was the first time I received an email from a foodie penpal that made me laugh out loud. Major props. I sent her some of my favorite (and local) items from our co-op.

To see what other Foodie Penpals received, check out the Lean Green Bean’s Post.

This month I was paired with Mary from Wisconsin. She describes herself as a “food enthusiast” and teaches chocolate making classes in her spare time. How awesome is that?!

I received her package when I arrived home from my trip to DC (for the ATM!) And it was AMAZING. Seriously…I think this was my favorite package ever. Thank you, Mary!!!


Penzeys and coffee and chocolate! Oh MY!

Not only did I get a small note for every item in the package, I also got a copy of Penzeys Spices latest catalog (which has some great recipes in it, btw!), a variety of recipe cards, little post cards (also from Penzeys) and some new knowledge about the company-Did you know that they are out of Wisconsin?! Mary wrote in one of her notes that she has watched them grow from a small shop into an awesome company. I love stories like this!!!

Along with some great Penzeys recipes, I also got some of Mary’s favorite spice blend, Northwoods (Ben and I tried some the other night. Very tasty) and some natural high fat cocoa, which I put this in some pumpkin cupcakes and it gave it that extra little something.  Mary also sent her recipe for cappuccino thins, which I will definitely be making soon!


I’m all about new cookie recipes!!!

Other items in the package included:

– Mary’s favorite coffee blend (a chocolate roast mixed with an orange roast and tossed in cocoa-heavenly!)

-Wisconsin Truffles filled with beer. Also delicious.

-Her family’s favorite Fall snack-a trail mix which includes dried cherries, nuts and other wonderful goodies. This is really good. I’m trying to make it last a long time…but I don’t think that will happen.

Like I said, AMAZING!!!

Mary, you went above and beyond. Thanks again!!!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes! Most of the time it takes 2 days to go anywhere in the country!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.
If you’re interested in participating in November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by November 4th as pairings will be emailed on October 5th!

Wednesday’s Realizations

Although it is only Wednesday, I have come to a number of realizations this week. Super important stuff, let me tell you.

1. Don’t wear a sweater to the second job on Trivia Night.  It gets way too hot.

2. Don’t drink coffee while wearing a white scarf.

3. I really need to stop forgetting my hat and gloves.

4. Breakfast makes life so much better.

5. So does homemade bread.

6. Annie’s Mac and Cheese is delicious when substituting Greek Yogurt for milk. New obsession? Probably.

7. I really want to make this Cheeseburger Salad.

8. And these Roasted and Shredded Beef Sandwiches.

9. I must consume this soup sometime soon (veggies and beans). For reals.

10. And these tacos (black beans and sweet potatoes), oh my sweet lord.

11. I think I am addicted to food blogs. Or just food. Maybe both. Help?

12. No matter where my media naranja is in the world, she totally gets me. ChocPBPretzels. Ugh!

13. My husband is at home baking bread right now. I am the luckiest woman on the planet.

Rocking out to Journey is an essential part of the process.

14. As much as I am not a morning person, I love seeing the sunrise everyday on my way to work.

15. Lunges really kick my butt (ha).

That’s all for now!

Until next time….

Weekend Warrior

Wow…this weekend went by way too fast! As I sit here on Monday morning, I am reflecting over all of the randomness that occurred.

I mentioned looking for a part-time gig… Mission accomplished. I got a phone call Thursday night asking if I was interested in a hostessing position. I called them back on Friday and was told that I would be starting on Saturday-and btw, it was going to be very busy.

Okay, no big deal. The bar was bumpin’ as it was the annual Toys for Tots party, but the dining room wasn’t very busy, which meant that I wasn’t either. It felt weird to be working on a Saturday night, as I haven’t done so since the summertime…and since I have only ever worked at one restaurant…as a waitress, not as a hostess, I think it will take a few weeks to get back in the groove.

It made me nostalgic for the Rusty; running around like a crazy person, balancing martinis and a bottle of wine, pestering the kitchen to get my order out and taking a moment to look out the windows as the sun was setting over the lake and Valcour Island.

That’s the thing I both love and hate about starting somewhere new… finding the rhythm of the new place, picking up on the vibe of the building and its people and figuring out where I fit into all of it.  It was not a bad night. I came out unscathed and I am extremely grateful for the second job. My next shift is on Tuesday and I believe that I will have the rhythm of this place down…or at least I hope.

On a less uplifting note, I also attended a funeral this weekend. It was a very sad occasion, but the family chose to celebrate his life and it spread to the other attendees. The man whose life we were celebrating was one of the regulars at the Rusty. He was a very particular man but he was one of my favorites, I was sad to hear of his passing. Apparently many others were too, there was not an empty seat in the church. Occasions like this always make me reflect on my own life, my loved ones and what God’s purpose for me is.  I think about where I am and where I was…and wonder where I am going.

I have to laugh, because one of the hymns sung at the funeral was “In the Garden.” It’s one of my favorites but I will never be able to sing that song or take it seriously ever again because of my ex. He always used to change the words of the song (“And he walks with me/ and he talks with me…) to “Andy walks with me/Andy talks with me…” and so on and so forth.

Of course, during the service, while those around me were tearing up, I was trying not to crack a smile while I was singing. Please don’t judge me. I’m really not a bad person.

It’s funny how little things like that keep you moving forward. I used to get so annoyed when he would reference that song and his little lyric change-up. Stupid memories/quirky habits (whether your own, your ex boyfriend’s or an old friend’s) that you used to hate come back in different forms and actually help you when you’re dealing with a difficult time. I hope that this man’s family will be able to draw from their own funny memories as they continue on their journey. From what I gathered, there were many.

Sunday was our usual ritual of waking up late, rushing to get to church on time, devouring breakfast and coffee, Sunday School with the kids and then the service. Our service was about the Wise Men. It definitely got me thinking, once again, about purpose.

There are so many things that I love to do. But I still haven’t found the thing that I want-or am meant- to do forever. I am a big believer in no regrets, everything happening for a reason/being part of God’s plan and so far it hasn’t failed me…though, I do admit, I have had a few major bumps along the way…which I will always refer to as learning experiences. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to collect the entire sum of knowledge gained and put it to use…til then, I hope others will learn-and be entertained-just as much as I have from them.

The rest of the day was spent with the hubs. We had some great sushi for lunch then braved the mall for a post meal calorie burning walk…this lasted about 20 minutes before I reached my limit of holiday mall madness and we headed home. The rest of the day was spent watching movies, writing thank-you notes and baking Amish Friendship Bread (Thanks Dana!). It was nice to relax after a pretty hectic week. I always enjoy Sundays because it’s our day to do whatever.

I also made a pretty quick and easy pasta dish on Friday night.

I call it…

Pasta Carbonara-ish

Serves 4


Your favorite pasta-I used the tri-color rotini.

Small bunch of Sage, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves-diced

4 tbsp. butter

1 to 1 1/2 cups milk/cream

Parmesan Cheese-to taste

cracked pepper to taste

salt to taste

1 egg.

Cook your pasta al dente, drain and set aside.

Using the same pot (on low-medium heat), add butter, chopped garlic and chopped sage. Melt butter, stirring occasionally.

Add milk. Stir.

Grate in parmesan cheese-I put in about 1/4 cup. Continue to stir until cheese starts to blend in.

Return pasta to pot. Stir until well incorporated.

Crack an egg in. Mix well. Continue to stir until egg is cooked in (this should only take a few minutes, you’ll be able to tell by the texture.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve Hot, garnish with a couple of basil leaves and more Parmesan cheese..

So delicious!

Anyway, hope everyone has a good week! Stay tuned for an awesome gift idea and my scheming as of late!

Thanksgiving Bites!

After kind of a rough day at work, I decided I should do a post about my second great love; food!!!

I absolutely adore food. I’d rather go grocery shopping than clothes shopping. I’d rather stay in baking than hitting the town with my ladies. I’d rather stay in cooking with my husband while listening to Flamenco music than go to the movies. I’d rather peruse food blogs than shop online. I’d rather go out and try a new restaurant than go out for drinks.

It’s bad. My husband’s a chef. I can’t think of a time that I find him sexier than when he is in the kitchen. Thankfully, I also love running…otherwise I think we’d have a real problem!

I also love Thanksgiving. I have such fond memories of the family dinners of yesteryear…including Aunt Rayna’s Chocolate Kahlua Cake, Nana’s amazing salads and sweet potatoes, giant turkeys, mashed potatoes (with the skins) and bickering with my brother and sisters.

My siblings and cousins are probably going to kill me when they see this.. but I couldn’t resist…Check out my awesome red velvet dress with the super frilly collar…EEK!

One of our famous holiday dinners... circa 1990-91

“Moving on…

I thought I’d show you some of my recent obsessions in the food blog world, maybe something you could use for the big Thanksgiving feast you’re attending! I have made almost all of these recipes or similar versions of them and can tell you that they are great! All of these are a little different than your traditional Turkey Day Fare. Be warned, you are about to be blown away!

1. Swiss Chard Sweet Potato Gratin. 

Deb is the best. Smitten Kitchen is one of my go-to food blogs, whether it be for dinner, dessert or a snack. This Gratin will rock your socks off! We made this for Christmas last year and as a vegetarian dish at our wedding…there was nothing left. Absolutely amazing!

2. Apple Pie Cookies

Another Smitten Kitchen Creation, these cookies are not for the faint of heart, but they are so worth it. If you’re looking for a fun twist on a traditional dessert, then these are the cookie for you. Just be warned, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul-Not because they are difficult to make, but they are a little labor intensive.

3. Caramelized Onion Dip

If you are anything like me, the apps are just as important as the main course. This dip is from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, simple to make and a little fancier than the standard french onion dip. I think it’s even better after sitting in the fridge for a day, allowing the flavor to really come out. This is a great dish to bring along, serve it with veggies, crackers or some tortilla chips.

4. Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Another 101 Cookbooks recipe, this is one of my favorite cakes to make. More savory than sweet, it’s got a little bit of everything: glorious undertones of rosemary, dark chocolate surprises, and the moistness that every olive oil cake has. Yum! I throw in some flax seed meal just to give it that extra something. Again, if you’re looking for something a little different, make this! Actually, just make it anyway.

5. Pumpkin Cream Pie

Confession, I haven’t actually made this pie, but it looks mouthwatering. I love Pioneer Woman’s blog because she makes everything so easy. She also uses real ingredients. I may have to make this for our celebration…now to convince Ben that we need another dessert…

6. Spaghetti Squash with Maple Syrup and Shallots

Spaghetti Squash. I adore it. Add Maple Syrup and Shallots, you have a winner. Not only is it fun to eat, but it’s soooooo goooooood! Another win for P-Dub.

7. Chicken (or turkey?) Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Buscuits

I know this is a leftovers recipe, but still. Look at it, Joy the Baker rocks. This rocks. How else are you gonna use up all that turkey?

8. Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake

This cake is awesome. I mean, just look at the frosting! I didn’t use as much sugar in the frosting but that’s only because I am not a super sweet person. It’s something fun and different! Try it!!! Just make sure not to use overly ripe avocados, especially in the frosting, it will quickly turn that vibrant green to a weird brownish color.

9. Quinoa Stuffing

Once again, I haven’t made this but it looks great. It’s got so many of my favorite ingredients in it. Whether you are gluten-free or not, this is definitely something to try! Quinoa makes me happy, it is fun to eat and so good for you!

10. Shredded Brussel Sprouts

I know Brussels Sprouts aren’t for everyone, but really, these sound sooooo goood!  (sorry, you have to scroll down to get to this recipe.) I definitely think these are worth a try…I mean, they have pancetta and caraway in them, how can you go wrong?!

That’s all for now. Let me know if you end up trying any of these and what you think! What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Be on the lookout for a sampling of our Thanksgiving feast (the first in our new apartment as a married couple! AH!)

Have a safe, happy and blessed holiday!