Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!

Everyone seemed to have a pen pal when they were younger.  Not to be woes me, but I remember writing a letter and not getting one in return.  Now I get to make up for lost time.  This time around, I received a wonderful package from Richgail at ASTIG Vegan.

Even though she is vegan, it didn’t stop her from putting together some great goodies, which included mangoes, flax seeds, chocolate hazelnut milk (made with hazelnuts, not dairy!), roasted peanuts and even a homemade Filipino dessert, yema.  She also included some planting seeds, which I plan to take to our community garden, here in Hoboken.  I use flax seeds regularly, but I am going to have to make something with flax seeds and post it here soon. **Major apologies for no pics of this major goodies, I had a meltdown with my memory card.  Thankfully, it is fixed but I missed out on these pictures!**

What I love the most about this project is getting to see what other people eat as their “every day snacks.”  We all have preferred nibbles but it is great to see what other people eat and then incorporate those snacks into our routines.

Are you interested in participating in Foodie Penpals with us?  Please see information below:

-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!)

-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 Penpals 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. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

If you’re interested in participating for April, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th


Chocolatey Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Hey!  It’s me here!  Sorry for the no talky lately.  I have been busy with a paper, new job and some entertaining on top of that!  I feel lucky to be busy with what I have.  It means life is going pretty well.  Unfortunately, I am also battling a leeeeetle sinus infection so what happens when one’s face hurts?  Make cookies!!

I had been craving cookies for a while so I am glad I finally got to my oven.  I have had several bags of Kraft Caramel Bits squirreled away from Christmas baking and they were calling to me.  I wanted to make a caramelly cookie with them.   I also had a bar of chocolate leftover from Christmas that I chopped into chunks to add into these gems.  I used my Deep Dark Cocoa from King Arthur’s which in hindsight, probably overpowered the caramels but these hit the spot anyway.  I think my sinus infection is dissipating!

Chocolatey Chocolate Caramel Cookies
Adapted from Rookie Cookie

2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup caramel bits
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Set oven to 350°F.
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar. Add eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in caramel bits and chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets.

Restaurant Review: The Spotted Pig, NYC

I’m back with another restaurant review.  The Spotted Pig has been on our “to try” list for  some time, but every time we go there, the wait is over 2 hours.  This time, the wait was 1.5 hours, but it was not too late to wait and the weather in NYC was amazing, so we did some strolling around while we waited and they called us when a table was ready.

The ambiance was warm and friendly, but really loud.  Thankfully, the tables were small enough so that we were sitting close to each other and could hear the conversation.  I had read that the Chicken Liver Toast was a good start so we sampled that first.  I am all about trying new things and the taste was good but I was kind of glad the restaurant was dark so I couldn’t actually see the chicken livers.  Anyway, the taste was strong and sweet and a nice dish.

Next, we had the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort & Shoestrings.  It was huge and very satisfying.  I am increasingly thinking that a quality cheese can really enhance a burger.  Of course, there is no hiding a poor quality meat or bread but the cheese can take good to great.  We also split the Seared Mackerel with Sweet Potatoes & Pancetta.  This was a smaller dish but the addition of horseradish to the sweet potatoes took them over the top.  Now, Sparky is obsessed with adding a bit of horseradish to his sweet potatoes at home.  Great trick!  The mackerel was cooked nicely, not dry and the lightness of the fish was a great counterpoint to the burger.

For sides, we also ordered the Kale & Bacon and Beets & Greens.  Both were decent.  The kale was a bit too salty for my liking but the beets had a great sweetness.  They really are my favorite vegetable.

Unusual for us, nothing really popped out on the menu for desserts.  The server spoke highly of all of them and I am sure the Ginger Cake is a winner but we were too full.  Speaking of servers, she seemed busy and harried, but was helpful in guiding us through the menu and made great suggestions.  Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to others but probably not go back, just because there are many other great options in NYC for the same price and because it is such a hassle to go since they don’t take reservations.

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

After a eating adventure or just generally a period of eating rich food, I like to counteract it by making pureed vegetable soup.  I love them.  I love them for the flavor, simplicity of just vegetables and the health benefits.  I feel awesome after eating these soups.  This one had been on my list and after eating a lot of fried chicken (worth every bite), I was ready for some vegetables!

Joy the Baker had one that had been on my list, so I jumped right in.  It came together fairly easily, however, I don’t know why I hand chopped everything instead of using the food processor.   Fool.  Maybe I wanted to feel the knife in my hand.

The coconut milk adds a creaminess and the proportions are spot on.  Even though spring is sneaking in, I think I will throw this soup together again before summer’s arrival!

This soup reminded me of another soup that I love: Creamy Carrot and Chickpea Soup.  This is probably heartier, because of the chickpeas, but it is a great vegan option.


Not My Momma’s BBQ Chicken

Oh, the list.  You know.  That one.  The one in the sky, where you put all the things you want to do some day like decorating ideas, recipes to make, crafts, and fashion wants.  I guess you could call that pinterest!  Anyway, I am more old fashioned and I still go back to the imaginary list of recipes in my mind.  This has been there for a long time.

Something about Jenna’s voice at Eat, Live, Run makes me feel like we could be good friends.  Her southern roots and food that her Momma makes is not so much like my Momma’s cooking but the love that comes through in her blog for her Momma does remind me of my love for my Momma (and her cooking!).  After spending time with my Momma, when I came home, I wanted something comforting and tasty, yet I didn’t want to sacrifice a ton of the time left in my spring break.  I turned to the crock pot and Jenna’s great recipe for BBQ chicken.

The only change I made was that I used a mix of white and dark meat and I doubled the recipe.  It was awesome and this is going into the rotation.  The sauce is sweet and tangy with a hint of spice!  I served it with Matt and Ted Lee’s Hot Slaw a la Greyhound Grill and it was a great match.  Add that cornbread and you have yourself a meal!

I apologize for all my picture fails this week.  I couldn’t pin down this food fast enough to snap a pic.  Amateur food blogger fail.  I’ll try again next week!