Tag Archives: penpal

Foodie Penpal from Chicagoland!

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This month’s Foodie Penpal box came from Ashley of My Cats and I (Cooking) in Chi. When I found out that Ashley was from Chicago, I told her that if she could somehow ship some hot fries from Pops for Champagne, that my husband would be forever grateful. 😉

From our email exchanges, Ashley and I found that we have a lot in common. We both love trying new restaurants and admit that we dine out more often than our waistlines and wallets can handle. She even gave me some recommendations for new restaurants to try the next time we travel to or through Chicagoland. I also found another person who doesn’t like a ton of bacon in dishes like me! {I seriously thought I was the only one with all the blank stares I get when I mention that.}

So what was in the box? Well, let’s just take a look:

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Ashley dubbed this a Reduced Guilt package!

Skinny Pop Popcorn – Mmm. No artificial anything! This stuff is good and coated with just the right amount of salt. “Popped Skinny in the USA,” the company hails from Chicago.

Trader Joe’s Mini Milk Chocolate Bars – For my chocolate fix. It was 90+ degrees in the Midwest when our boxes went out this month. I didn’t think about this until moments after I shipped my FPP recipient’s box! I worried about melted chocolate all over her goodies! I quickly sent her a warning/apology email. Soon after, I received an email from Ashley stating that she had included some chocolate, not thinking about the hot weather and hoped it wouldn’t be all over the box. {See how much alike we are?!} It was nothing the refrigerator couldn’t fix! These separately-wrapped 100 calories bars are heaven.

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix – This one makes me laugh. Whenever a Foodie Penpal {you are assigned to new people every month} asks me about my preferences and if I am okay with homemade or baked goods, I explain that I like both healthy and indulgent treats because I believe that any food can be part of a healthy diet as long as it is in moderation. Then I add, “That being said, when it comes to baked goods, if you send me a brownie, I’ll eat it. But if you send me a plate of brownies, I’ll probably eat those in one sitting, too.” Moderation is tough for me when it comes to baked goods. It’s why I don’t usually bake. So, then, why did Ashley send these to me?

Because you can use the mix to make ONE BROWNIE AT A TIME!

Genius. In fact, I’ve since dumped the mix into a jar with the {simple} directions on top, so I can make myself my own hot brownie anytime. YAY!

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Wonderful Pistachios {single serving pack} – Nuts are one of my favorite snacks. And I still think I might be the only one on the planet that can’t stop laughing at this Crackin’ Gangnam Style pistachio commercial. 😉

Also included was, as she mentioned in her note, one of Ashley’s favorite breakfast recipes for Blueberry Banana Pie Overnight Oats along with the Pecan Praline Granola and Chia Seeds needed in the recipe. I just had to make it!

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Sooo good. I only made half the recipe at a time and it came out just fine. Since then, I’ve also eaten the granola as cereal with banana or peaches added. And do you know how long I’ve been meaning to buy and try out chia seeds?! Now I’m just looking for some more fun recipes and uses for them.

None of those items have I previously picked up at Trader Joe’s. And I may have even passed them by in the future if Ashley hadn’t introduced them to me!

Thank you, Ashley for a not only wonderful and tasty, but also thoughtful package.

I loved {and am still loving} it!

Thinking you want to become a Foodie Penpal? You don’t even need to be a blogger to do it! 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.}

What are your favorite recipes for/uses of chia seeds?

Cheers,
Carrie

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

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