Tag Archives: foodie penpals

Foodie Penpal from Idaho

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Have I mentioned how much I love Foodie Penpals?!

One thing I absolutely love about the program is that I’m matched with different people from different regions of the U.S. every month. And they almost always send something from where they are from. I adore that!

This month, my Foodie PenPal box was sent from Amber, all the way from Idaho! {No, she didn’t send me potatoes.} Though I do love potatoes, she was a little more clever than that. 😉

Sage Milk Chocolate

Sage Milk Chocolate from Boise

This was the first thing I unwrapped and dug into from the box. Sage and milk chocolate? Who knew?! It’s an excellent combination. I promptly broke the bar up into pieces to put in my lunches for the week. You know, I do eat a little bit of chocolate every day. I did save a piece for Rob. When he got home from work, I made him try a piece and told him to tell me what he tasted in the chocolate. “Is that rosemary?” he asked. SO CLOSE!

Via, Chocolate

Starbucks Via Refreshers – Valencia Orange flavor, Corazona’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Squares, Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter

You know, I had never tried the Starbucks Refreshers before. What a great introduction! The Valencia Orange flavor really took me back. It reminded me of TANG! They were so fun to try and to break up my water routine.

I had never heard of Corazona’s nor their White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Squares. I always love a good protein, nut or oatmeal bar for a quick breakfast or snack and these did not disappoint. I forget about macadamia nuts sometimes, even though I love nuts. It might be partially because I rarely buy them – they are expensive. But dear hubby is also allergic. Okay, better chance to keep them all to myself!

And you can never go wrong with any Justin’s nut butter. As a francophile, I adore Nutella. And somehow, somewhere along the way, Rob learned he is allergic to hazelnuts. That means All The Nutella is for Me… Mwahhhhhahahaha! But the discovery of chocolate almond butter makes it more accessible to Rob now. 😉

Huckleberry Jam, also from Idaho

Wild Huckleberry Jam, also from Idaho

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a huckleberry, much less Huckleberry Jam. New to me and from Idaho – win-win! I’ve been stirring it into my overnight oats. Sometimes I add a few chocolate chips, chia seeds {from my last Foodie Penpal} and slivered almonds, too. Perfect!

And last, but most certainly not least:

YUMMMAY

Angie’s Salted Caramel Kettle Corn

“NUMMAY!”

Recently, I learned that Angie’s Kettle Corn is out of Minnesota. My husband and I love the stuff. But how is it that I’ve never had nor have I even known about the Salted Caramel flavor?! Thank you, Amber, for introducing me. Well, maybe it isn’t a good thing. I did open the bag to give it a try and probably ate half of it… Next time, pour a serving into a bowl, Carrie! 😉

Thank you so much, Amber, for your thoughtful package and the kind note, too.

I love that you put some of your favorites in the box as well as items from your homeland.

Cheers to you!

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Thinking you want to become a Foodie Penpal? You don’t even need to be a blogger to do it! Nor do you have to participate every month. Here’s how:

1. Sign up by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.
2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.
3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.
4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.
5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.
6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.
7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.
8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}
9. To sign up for September by September 4th, click here.

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What would you have liked to try most out of this box and why?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Foodie Penpal from Colorado

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This month’s Foodie Penpal box came from Kelly from Colorado. She told me this was her first month with Foodie Penpals and asked me for some tips as well as my preferences.

She more than exceeded my expectations!

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Kelly is a cupcake blogger over at High Altitude Cupcakes. {Love that name!} As I drooled over the photos of her creations, I knew there was no way she could send me a cupcake without it flattening in transit. Or, if she had perfected cupcake shipment, she would more likely have to send only cupcakes, which could be a beautiful thing. But it also could be bad thing if all cupcakes were consumed {by me} in one sitting! But as I suspected, cupcake shipment still proves difficult. In fact, when I wanted to send last month’s Foodie Penpal some banana chocolate chip muffins, I opted to send her the dry ingredients along with the recipe instead.

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Her beautiful, hand-written card was fitting and adorable!

photo 3In this note, Kelly went into detail on each item she sent and why.  She carefully selected some items from her beloved home state as well as some of her own favorites.

photo 5Clockwise from the Cupcake note:

Doxy’s Smoky Chipotle Starter – Aurora, CO | This is the only item I have not yet tried. It’s a packet of natural herbs and spices that can be used to make salad dressing and dip or to season fajitas or pasta. It will not go to waste!

JJ Sweets Cocomels – Boulder, CO | Oh, Cocomels! Thank you for making another appearance in my life! I was first introduced to these when a sample arrived in my monthly Love with Food box. I once again adored these cream caramels made with coconut milk.

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups – Boulder, CO | I’m familiar with Justin’s Nut Butters, but I wasn’t aware that the company also made peanut butter cups! And with dark chocolate? There was no way that this could go wrong. And it didn’t. Each cup made it into a day starring as my daily piece of chocolate. Mmm.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate Covered Potato Chip Bar | I adore this chocolatier! Kelly just discovered it and with my love of chocolate, knew that she had to share.

Homemade Peach Jam | This is the best jam I’ve ever had! I am dead serious about this one. It’s made from Colorado’s famous Palisade Peaches. What I adore most about this jam is that the beautiful peach flavor shines through. It is not overly sugared. In fact, I told my husband that it kind of tasted like mashed fresh, ripe peaches. Beautiful and refreshing.

Clark’s Wildflower Honey – Fort Lupton, CO | This honey is produced from wildflower and bees out of Fort Lupton. I had recently run out of honey and always like to replace it with a new one from a local producer often found at the Farmer’s Market. Getting some from a Foodie Penpal is even better! I love the Wildflower variety of honey, too.

Homemade Fig & Olive Tapenade | Kelly sent this to cater to my love of Mediterranean inspired food. She said that she also shares that love. Of course, I’ve had  tapenade before, but I’ve never had it made with figs, which are something else I really love, but rarely ever get to enjoy here in Minnesota. And let me tell you, this tapenade is divine! It’s so versatile, too.

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Kelly suggested that I spread the tapenade with goat cheese on sliced French bread.

Perfect suggestion. This was an excellent way to enjoy it. I truly believe that if you are not a fan of olives, combining it with the figs mellows those distinct olive flavors out a bit with just that hint of sweetness. It also went perfectly with the honey ale above, which you’ll hear more about at a later date.

But then I got some ideas and enjoyed this beautiful Fig & Olive Tapenade in other ways!

with sliced tomato!

I added sliced tomato!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Drizzled with the wildflower honey!

I drizzled it with the wildflower honey!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

Tapenade (4)

I put it in a salad!

I made a simple salad for a work lunch one day which included fresh farmer’s market greens, tomato, goat cheese and the Fig & Olive Tapenade. At work, I drizzled a little lemon grapeseed oil over the top to dress it and topped it off with a few sliced almonds for some added crunch. Highly satisfying. It reminded me of sitting in the sun at a café in Provence. {I smile as I sigh here…}

Thank you, Kelly, so much for this beautiful box of lovely treats.

I can tell that you put a lot of thought and heart into it.

Everything has won me over!

I shipped a box of Foodie Penpal goodies this month to Maggie in Georgia, who is a big lover of Cheez-its. Let’s just say that she set me up to send her some of the cheddar variety of our local Pop’d Kerns. 😉

If you’d like to participate in Foodie Penpals, here’s the best part:

You don’t need to have a blog to participate!

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.

2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.

3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.

4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.

5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.

6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.

7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.

8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}

What is your favorite food from your neck of the woods?

Cheers~
Carrie

May Foodie Penpal with Flavor

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It’s Foodie Penpal reveal time! I’ve signed up to receive a Foodie Penpal a handful of times and I absolutely love it. You don’t even have to be a blogger to participate.

Foodie pen pals

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up here by the 4th of the month that you want to participate.

2. On the 5th of the month, you are assigned a Foodie Penpal.

3. You communicate with your penpal about any food allergies or preferences, as well as where to ship the package.

4. By the 15th of the month, send $15 worth of food to your penpal that may include homemade goodies, local treats or just some of your favorite discoveries that you want to share! The box must also contain something handwritten.

5. You’ll receive a package from another Foodie Penpal, who was assigned to you.

6. If you are like me, you squeal with delight when your package arrives.

7. You enjoy said goodies, which you may have never known about otherwise.

8. If you are a blogger, you post about the package you received on the last day of the month – Reveal Day! {If you are not a blogger, you do not need to do anything, but thank your Penpal, of course! However, if your Penpal does blog, you can choose to write a guest post, if you so wish.}

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My delightful May box came from Tiffany in Rhode Island. She shopped and sent my package out in less than 24 hours! I was so impressed when my box arrived.

here are the goods

Fun Foods shipped from Rhode Island by Tiffany

Tiffany’s cute smiley card indicated that she tried to find some items produced outside the U.S. {It’s like she knew me!} She found some spicy goods, too, knowing that I like things with flavor. {This blog isn’t called Season It Already! for nothing!}

Also included was a nice eco-friendly Target shopping bag. I took everything out and piled it all on top of the bag and Benny just had to get in the photo as he always does!

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Does Benny want to be in the photo or does he just want the food? Hmmmm…

The box was waiting for me when I came home from a girls’ weekend in Wisconsin Dells. The first thing my husband and I tore in to were the cookies!

cookies

These assorted gourmet cookies came from a local bakery/grocery store that Tiffany loves!

Those cookies were so chewy and fresh! Rob and I might have had them gone the next day. 😉

I’ve been holding out on the Mango Habanero Salsa. Why? Rob is allergic to mango. Also, when I open a jar of salsa, I never finish it. I have no idea why that happens! However, my dad is visiting this weekend. He loves habenero! I plan to dig in and enjoy the jar with him.

Tiffany indicated that she included these chips for dipping in the Habanero Salsa…

Rice & Bean

Lundberg Bean & Rice Chips – Pico de Gallo

…but we got too antsy. Pico de Gallo flavor? Sold! We tore the bag open. And, actually, we were glad we did. These chips were so flavorful and well-seasoned that I think they did better on their own. Mmmmm…

Actually, we’ve had company in town for the last week! Between Rob’s parents visiting last weekend, my parents visiting this weekend and my mom staying the week to deep clean our house {Yes, I AM the luckiest girl in the world!}, the Oriental Party Mix made the perfect snack.

And you know that the chocolate bar was broken up to pieces and brought with me to work each day for the past week or so. And I haven’t found a KIND Bar that I haven’t liked yet. This Fruit & Nuts in Yogurt one did not disappoint!

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Honeycomb Crisp Milk Chocolate from Ireland & Fruit & Nut in Yogurt KIND Bar

Lastly, is the Masaman Curry Paste from Thailand. Oh how I love curry! I had every intention of making it the week after I received the box. It just hasn’t happened yet. My plan is for next week. I’ve got a can of coconut milk that has been waiting to be used!

Thank you so much, Tiffany.

I adored my Foodie Penpals box and thank you ever so much for getting it out so quickly!

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I had so much fun shopping this month for my penpal, Ariel in Virgina. Ariel has a very interesting ethnic background. She sometimes writes over on her sister’s blog Hapa-tite, so if you want to learn more about these two ladies and what I sent Ariel, be sure to check out the site!

If you’d like to participate in Foodie Penpals, click here.

What is your favorite spicy or ethnic food?

Cheers~
Carrie

Paleo Penpal

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Yesterday was Foodie Penpal Reveal Day. I posted on the tasty package full of goodies that I received. However, the gal to whom I shipped doesn’t have a blog, so I offered to have her post what she received.

Before shopping and shipping I always ask if my recipient has any dietary restrictions and/or allergies and if there is anything they typically love or hate. This month, I learned that Brissa is a follower of the Paleo lifestyle. It was fun for me to learn more about the practice! I’ve also been following a few blogs lately written by Paleo followers and those giving Whole30 a try. I stole some of their favorites and ideas to send her. 😉

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Hello!

My wonderful April Foodie Pen Pal was Carrie from SeasonItAlready.com.

She wrote an awfully nice card with instructions on how to make some amazing spicy almonds!

In my goodie box I received: an assortment of teas, coconut milks (I am a Paleo lifestyler), organic tomatoes, some of her homemade spicy almonds, and coconut butter. Yum! I’ve been keeping my almonds in my tote and pop them out any time I need a snack! Thank you for this again, Carrie, it was thoughtful of you to learn something new for me in regards to Paleo! -Brissa ❤

Paleo PP

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You are welcome, Brissa!

Readers, are any of you following a Whole30 or Paleo regimen?

If so, what is your favorite compliant food?

Cheers~
Carrie

April Foodie Penpal Reveal

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When I’m assigned a Foodie Penpal, I always ask if my recipient has any dietary restrictions and/or allergies and if there is anything they typically love or hate. This month, I learned that the person for whom I was shopping, follows the Paleo lifestyle. It was fun for me to learn more about the practice. Furthermore, I’ve been following a few blogs lately written by Paleo followers and those giving Whole30 a try. I stole some of their favorites and ideas to send her. 😉 Check back tomorrow to see what I shipped!

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The Foodie Penpal shipping to me this month, sent me a whole list of questions! I loved it so much that I may even send it to my Foodie Penpal next month:

Do you have any dietary restrictions?
Do you like to receive homemade goodies?
Is there anything you absolutely love or absolutely hate?
Do you prefer healthy or are you open to all kinds of stuff?
Are you a salty or sweet person?
Milk, dark or white chocolate?
Do you like spicy foods?
When it comes to new foods; do you like to play it safe or get crazy?
What is your favorite cocktail?
Coffee, tea or soda?
What is your favorite & least favorite cuisine?
Favorite Snacks?
Do you like to bake?
Whoa! Talk about thorough! My goodie box was courtesy of Alex in Iowa of Alex Tries It Out. And now I’m a huge fan of her blog. I mean, she reviews beers, for one. Be still my heart. Check out her IPA cupcake recipe!
Alex

Each Foodie Penpal box must include something written. Here’s a nice note from Alex, empathizing in the overabundance of snow we had here in MN so late in the season. 😉

You can probably guess how I answered her questions, when you see what she put in the box!

April Foodie Penpal Box

April Foodie Penpal Box from Alex!

Of course, all of the chocolate has been consumed! {Don’t worry, it wasn’t in one sitting. I’ve learned the art of enjoying a little bit of chocolate every day.}

I considered using the marinara sauce for dipping when I made my Award Winning Poker Meatballs. However, I got greedy and decided to keep it for myself. It is the local item she mentioned in the box. So I’m saving it for lata. Actually, the marinara sauce, turtle sundae coffee and Cheddar Popchips are the only items left. But, I’ve already divvied up the Popchips into single servings to enjoy in my lunches this week. I am a fan of Popchips. I am a fan of cheese. Win-win.

Thanks, Alex, for a fantastic box with such great variety. I felt like you knew me!

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You, too, can become a Foodie Penpal. You don’t need to be a blogger. You don’t need to do it every month. All you have to do is sign up by the 5th of any month, contact your penpal within 48 hours and ship a package of goodies worth $15 by the 15th! So easy and so fun. Click here if you are interested.

Do you have a favorite canned or jarred tomato sauce?

If you make your own, feel free to share the recipe!

Cheers~
Carrie

Foodie Penpal from the South

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It’s Foodie Penpals Reveal Day!

Are you a Foodie Penpal? If not, it’s easy to become one and you don’t have to have a blog to participate. Click here for details.

My February Foodie Penpal package came from Jes at Urban Sacred Garden. Jes lives in Louisville and recently traveled to Dallas, so she picked up the Edible magazines from each city. This month’s package was quite different form any that I’ve received in the past – and I loved it! There are some new-to-me ingredients in there that I’m dying to try.

FPP Box

Dried Mexican Chiles from Dallas, KIND bars, Kentucky Sorghum, Black Raspberry Preserves, and a few packets of Charleston Breakfast Tea

I adore spice and chiles! It looks like I’m going to have to open up my Homesick Texan again real soon. I already dug into one of the KIND bars as a snack the previous day. They are great, quick snacks as Jes suggests. And I’ve never had nor cooked with Sorghum! This stuff is straight from Kentucky. Jes enclosed and pointed me to some recipes online, too. I’m looking forward to giving them a try {after surgery of course}.

Look where these are from:

from the south

Goodies from the South!

Rob and I have a grand desire to travel to Charleston someday soon. It all started with our obsession with the band Shovels and Rope. In addition, we visited a friend in Asheville, NC a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite unique cities! How did she know that I love rapsberries?!

From the bottom of my heart, Thank You, Jes!

I love how your foodie picks were unique and varied. I’m looking forward to trying them all!

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And now for Wednesday’s Food Journal…

Breakfast

Magic Smoothie – same rendition as the previous day.

At work  – 1 cup of Charleston Breakfast Tea (see above!) & 1 cup of black coffee with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate

I love the messages in Promises. I needed this one!

I love the messages inside Dove Promises. I needed this one!

Lunch

I warmed up my leftover Avocado, Mozzarella and Bruschetta Chicken with Balsamic Glaze thing with extra bruschetta topping.

Note to self: This dish doesn’t reheat very well. It actually made the bruschetta taste a little strange because it was warm. I know that it’s warm when you broil and melt the cheese, but it’s just not the same.

My advice: Make the four chicken breasts as directed in the recipe. However, only top the number of chicken breasts you intend to serve that evening. Save the rest of the topping ingredients and broil again the next day.

Snack

Banana (not pictured). The truth is, while I do have a piece of dark chocolate every day, I don’t usually have this many bananas as you’ve seen read about this week.. I’m just trying to eat “easy” foods before my surgery. In addition, I’ve been getting more Charley horses at night, which my chiropractor says is common when it comes to herniated disks. So that extra potassium won’t hurt to fend those off!

Dinner

Rob and I used a Groupon at Hurricane Wings for dinner. It was Happy Hour there and they were offering two-for-ones, so we got two of each beer we ordered:

wed-oatmeal stout

Summit Oatmeal Stout & Ranger IPA

We shared a beer. That way, I could enjoy an IPA with my meal and a stout for dessert!

Of course, I tried to make good choices. But I had no idea that the Firecracker Shrimp was going to be fried!

I had only about half of the shrimp and most of the salad. I ordered the salad with the intent to get more veggies in for the day. However, it was just lettuce, a few diced tomatoes and mostly dried cranberries, candied pecans and blue cheese with a Zinfandel vinaigrette. So, the salad wasn’t very veggie-ful. I also stole a few of Rob’s fries that came with his – you guessed it – burger!

Snack

Small wedge of double cream brie.

NOTE: While I’m still up about 4 lbs since my lowest since losing weight, I’m down 2.4 since last week. That’s great considering I gained almost 5 lbs on a recent cruise.

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What are your favorite local treats in your area?

Cheers~
Carrie

Foodie Penpals Encore {A Guest Post}

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Yesterday, I posted on what I received from Terri in Georgia, the Foodie Penpal who was assigned to me. I enjoyed some great breakfast goodies! Today, you will hear from the gal I was assigned to shop for and ship to! Jillian doesn’t have a blog. And you don’t have to have one to participate in Foodie Penpals! However, I invited her to do a post, if she so desired. {Again, not a requirement, so don’t let that hold you back from becoming a Foodie Penpal yourself.}

Thank you, Jillian for writing this guest post!

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Hi “Season It Already” readers!

Carrie has already filled you all in on the basics of Foodie Penpals –  this January was my first time participating.    I live in New England, I am a wife and a mom of 2 young boys, and I love all things related to health, fitness, cooking, and eating!

This past December I finally took the plunge and joined Twitter, mainly as an outlet for posting about the Tone It Up lifestyle (see below), and that is how I learned about The Lean Green Bean and Foodie Penpals.   Put together a small box of yummy goodies, send them to someone else, and get one in return?   Sign me up!

 Here is a photo of the items Carrie sent in my package (sorry for my horrible photography….):

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She included Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb and Seasoning Mix, Wildtree European Dipping Oil, San Franola Granola, and a few dark chocolates and Werther’s Originals candies.   Most importantly, she included a little note explaining to me how she likes to use each item, and why she chose to include it in the package.

To be honest, it took me quite some time to get around to taking photos of all the items, and I didn’t dare use anything until after the official photo shoot!  Last night after I took the picture, I immediately tore into the dark chocolates. Loved every single one, especially the Sea Salt and Caramel.

This morning I was anxious to try the San Franola Granola. After trying a few delicious little granola nuggets right out of the package, I added the rest to a bowl of greek yogurt, and it was heaven.  The granola looks chocolatey, but it is actually a slightly crunchy version of a homemade oatmeal raisin cookie.

 fppoatmeal

For lunch I had planned on making a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad drizzled with the Wildtree dipping oil, but after starting to make the salad I realized that the mozzarella I had in the fridge was no longer good.   It became a romaine and tomato salad with walnuts and blue cheese, to which I added a small drizzle of the dipping oil.   A little bit definitely goes a long way, and it was delicious.   I can’t wait to try it on chicken, for dunking crusty bread from the bakery, and to eventually get some fresh mozzarella to try it on a Caprese salad.

The only item I have yet to try is the Pampered Chef Seasoning Mix, but I can guarantee that will not last long in our house.   We roast vegetables numerous times per week in our house, and the container also recommends using it as a rub for poultry.   Roasted chicken and veggies will definitely be in the menu one night this week.  Carrie also suggested tossing it with some popcorn along with a little parmesan cheese- sounds perfect, huh?

Before putting this foodie care package together, Carrie asked if I had any allergies, food restrictions, etc.   I am not allergic to a single thing, however I explained that I have been focusing on eating less processed foods and following the Tone It Up nutrition plan (oh, and I also mentioned that I don’t like mushrooms or olives, although I wasn’t expecting anyone to send those along!).   If you have never heard of Tone It Up or Katrina and Karena, please visit their blog, ToneItUp.com.  They offer an entire range of work out videos, recipes, nutrition information, and most importantly, a community of incredibly supportive and positive women who believe in challenging yourself while being kind to your body and fueling it with natural foods.  It has truly changed my life!

Thank you Carrie for allowing me to try my hand at blogging for a day – I have such respect for those of you who do this on a regular basis.   I really enjoyed participating in Foodie Penpals and I’m excited to keep cooking. J

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I’m so glad you loved your goodies, Jillian!

Cheers~
Carrie