February Foodie Penpals!

Well, its the end of February and I decided to join Food Penpals again. Every month, each person who participates reveals their goods on the last day of the month - today! This month, I got paired up with Barbra from Mature Spring Chicken. She is from the Lone Star State of Texas and I was really excited to get some fun stuff from the south.

When she sent my goodies, she made sure to tell me to save my calories. Uh, yeah, she was totally right.

I got a mix of delightful chocolate treats, an egg timer (which I've never used one before - so excited to try it out), a fun cookie cutter in the shape of Texas, a spoon dipped in chocolate (for coffee maybe?) and my favorite - sweet tea!

I loved everything, but check out my favorites before.

We may have had some intergalactic connection and that's why she sent me this. Southern sweet tea is the absolute best!

Chocolate covered fritos and pretzels? What the what? 

I can't wait to put this chocolate sauce on everything.

And how cute it is that she added seeds for the Texas State Flower. I don't know if they will grow out here, but I am going to add them to my garden.

Thanks again!

If you want to join Foodie Penpals it is open to everyone, not just bloggers. Check out the details below and sign up. Fun times.

-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 Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 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. 

Sign Up HERE!




Wineaversary and Preserving Lemons

I preserved lemons this week! They were so pretty sitting on my counter. Bright, beautiful meyer lemons.

But first, let me tell you about Wineaversary!

Oh Wineaversary....I love you. 


Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

Or it makes really delicious soup, which is what happened in this case. As much as I enjoy cooking, my skills (following directions, measuring correctly) really lend themselves better to baking. So last night when I was about to have a minor meltdown because I had forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer before I left for work and it just wasn't defrosting quickly enough (even though I obviously followed the directions!) Dan came to the rescue! Dan's skills (not measuring, not following directions) lend themselves better to cooking and so with our combined talents we created a soup based off of this recipe for Chili-Spiced Chicken Soup with Stoplight Peppers and Avocado Relish from My Recipes. And by based off of, I mean to say that pretty much all the ingredients are the same, but our method of getting to the final product was a bit different. And Dan may or may not have added some beer into the soup from our favorite local brewery via a pan de-glaze. I must say it was quite a nice touch, and I learned something new.

What you want me to stop talking and put up some pictures? Well, ok, but you only get 3.

Yummy spice mixture all stirred up. I created this while I was waiting for the chicken to defrost. And it reminded me a little bit of sand art. You know you loved that stuff. Lucky for you, you can buy some here.

I didn't make the avocado relish because I think I'm one of 5 total people on the planet who hates avocados. Dan loves them and puts them on everything so he made his own topping.

I think this soup or a version of will probably become a staple when we're in the mood for something warm and hearty.

Have a good weekend everyone! It's going to be cold, rainy, and miserable here in Baltimore.



Vanilla Cashew Smoothie

I cannot tell you how excited I am that I don't have to work on Monday. Seriously, why aren't there more holidays built into the year?! Standard two day weekends just don't cut it. I always feel like one day is dedicated to running errands and the other is for something fun. Don't get me wrong, I like doing my meal planning, grocery shopping, and weekend Target excursions. There is something cathartic about those errands for me, but that doesn't count as something "fun." We all need at least two solid days to do stuff we want to do and not what we have to do. I say we get Saturday for something fun, Sunday for errands, and Monday to recup and mentally prepare for the work week. How can we start this?

I am fully taking advantage of my extra day off this week. Sunday was full of yoga, shopping, my favorite coffee and my favorite grocery stores. Monday is for a new tradition with my lovely friends. We are going wine tasting! Last year Jaye was visiting, and we took a limo all through Napa. This year we are going to do it all over again (sadly, minus Jaye and a few others). But we decided to go Livermore instead of Napa. The tastings are a lot less expensive, the people are less pretentious and the wine is fabulous.

I'm pretty lucky to live within a hour of all these amazingly fantastic places.

Any way, not too sure what my rant about weekends and wine has to do with my this post, but this is my something new this week. I tried and made cashew milk for the first time. I first read about cashew milk from Shutterbean and this soup that is on my list to make. Then I saw it in a smoothie and knew I had to try it. I am not the biggest fan of dairy unless its in the ice cream form. I usually eat my granola and make my smoothies with almond milk, so I thought this would be a good alternative. I might just make a batch of just milk sometime soon to have on hand.

First, get all your ingredients ready - slice your bananas for easy blending.

Equipment: I love my magic bullet. It is perfect for one serving smoothies. You can also use a blender :)

Cashews are ready for the warm water bath.

After you blend the cashews, they will actually look like milk - pretty cool right. Then add all the rest of the goods and blend again.

Vanilla Cashew Smoothie
Serves 1//Inspired by Whole Living
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 frozen banana, sliced
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey

Boil 1/2 cup of water and add that to the cashews. Let them seep for 15 minutes, then blend until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of crushed ice, banana, vanilla, and honey. Blend again until smooth. Serve immediately.




Monday Bites: Cacao Nib Dark Hot Chocolate

I feel like I’ve been stuck in a hole since February started. Well, not really. But I’ve been consumed by those damn Fifty Shades of Grey books. Arg, they are awfully addicted. I’m not one to read these types of books....well, who am I kidding, I totally read the Twilight books and Hunger Games. I liked them too. Whatever, I said it. Anyway, by popular demand (and it being my choice) we picked Fifty Shaded for our book club this month. It took me a measly 10 days to finish the three book series. What?! I know, I am a little embarrassed  And since I’ve been so enmeshed in finishing my trashy novels, I haven’t been too inspired to get off the couch and make much food. But, this weekend, I took a break from the books and made some hot chocolate I’ve wanted to try for nearly a year.



CORE Foods: Review and Giveaway!

During the tasting pavilion at the Food Blogger's Fest back in October, I stopped by the CORE Foods booth so see what they had going on. They were offering up some pretty tasting treats (like everyone else there!). After I got home from the fest and went through all the business cards and the loads of information I picked up, I read up on what CORE meals were, who CORE food was, and how they got started. Its a pretty interesting company.


My January Adventures

Well, the first month of 2013 is over and done with. It was a great start to the year and I have been trying to capture life in photos to share.
Here is what January looked like and a few of my favorite things from the month.
Above is a photo of the morning sunrise I am so lucky to have nearly every day 
(if there is no fog that is).

I started off the month with making my resolutions, going for a hilly 6 miler and some Philz

morning shadows

a run with a view

Of course, I had to try bacon crack at The Local Butcher Shop
Amazing, by the way. Its like bacon toffee

I got my craft on - jewelry peg board.

I visited Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. 

It was nothing short of ah-mazing. How beautiful are these macaroons!

Heretic was at the Winter Brews Festival in Concord and I help pour some fabulous beer. 

The men, hard at work.

Here is some link love...

Why Publix is the best supermarket on earth

Chris and I played this drinking game!

So stinking proud of my husband and Heretic! They are getting tons of buzz these days.

Just bought this necklace and can't wait until it gets here!

I plan on making this soon.

I want this scarf!

I just cut up a butternut squash...wish I saw this first.

Be a pro and get rid of you salt shaker. I got rid of mine a while ago, and my parents didn't know what to do during Thanksgiving.

This SNL skit has been making me laugh all month. You know you've met someone like this.

Instead of cocaine, 20 somethings are now way into food.

Last but not least...I'm obsessed with all the Tiny Desk Concerts that NPR is hosting.

Here's to a lovely February...!

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