Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie PenPal Reveal

Last month my mother insisted that I sign up for this little thing called Foodie PenPals.  I was a little weary at first, but it took about 15 seconds of her explaining to get me signed up.

So, let me explain...

Every month a ton (800+) of foodies join in the exchange of local and homemade food items with other foodies across the country.  On the 5th every month, Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean, sends out a list matching all of those foodies up with one person to send a package to and one person to receive a package from.  With me still?

Then you get in contact with both of your PenPals for the month, exchange food likes/dislikes, allergies, diets and so on.  After that you start creating a $15 package of local or homemade goodies for your PenPal all the while someone is creating one for you!  Doesn't this sound amazing already?

By the 15th of the month all packages are sent and then you get to impatiently wait until your package arrives!

To get a few more details and sign yourself up, click {here}!

The Lean Green Bean

This month I was paired with two lovely bloggers.  Jaime from Jaime's Journeys and Lisa from Feed You With a Kiss.  And they were the best pair a new Foodie PenPal could ask for.  Both of them have incredibly adorable blogs that you need to check out.  So go click on the links.

First I received Jaime's package...

It's here!  It's here!

The anticipation...

Jaime put together such a great package stocked full of local goodies!  And the purple piece of paper explained what and where everything was from.

First up we have two of my favorite things.  Coffee and Tea.  I absolutely destroyed the coffee in a mere couple of days.  There is a no doubt in my mind why they call it dark chocolate decadence.  Yum.  I've been trying to savor the tea and keep it around for a bit longer but it's just as delicious and probably won't survive too much longer.

Oh....holy chocolate.  Jaime knew the way to my heart.  As well as all of the men in the apartment, who stood hovering over me begging to take a bite.

Delicious local honey!  I've been using it in vinaigrette dressings and various baking projects.

This stuff is awesome!  Apparently it's from two guys who live in Jaime's town and have a local grilling show on TV once a week.  So legit.  I've been using it on EVERYTHING.

I haven't made this yet and I definitely need to.  Maybe I'll do that today...I don't need to prepare for the tour right?

This might have happened before I could finish snapping pictures of the package....Mmmmmm.

Okay so not only did I receive one package this month but I received TWO.  The PenPal that I sent a package to, also sent me a package because she is just that wonderful.  I was totally shocked to see it sitting on my doorstep and was convinced that it was just a mix up and that I would have to send it back.  BUT it wasn't!  Thank you so much Lisa!  And by the way...if you want to see what I sent her click {here}!

So many delicious Seattle sweets and goodies!  And unfortunately not all of it is shown because...some of it was gone by the time I could take a picture....

I can't wait to keep in touch with these ladies as well as meet my new PenPals for June.  Thanks Lindsay for starting such a great program!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Banana Coffee Smoothies

We are officially less than a week away from the tour!  Can you believe it?

It's a little overwhelming...or maybe I've just let my to-do list get a little too long this close to takeoff.  Darn you procrastination.

Strangely enough, most of that "to-do list" revolves around food.  Since we are going to be gone a whopping three weeks, I am trying to figure out how to get by without eating out three meals a day or even two for that matter.  So, I've been playing around in the kitchen and wracking my brain for things that I can make ahead of time and store in the cooler for at least the first week.  If you have any ideas send them my way!  They would be greatly appreciated.

This morning I had a revelation.


Ding Ding Ding!

Granted they won't get us through an entire three weeks but, I can imagine they will get us through a few days.  The great thing about these babies is that either I can make them the morning that we leave and keep them in the cooler OR I can pack the magic bullet and make them IN the car.  Genius.

banana coffee smoothies...
Makes: 1 large smoothie   Prep Time: 3 minutes   Cook Time: None!   Total Time: 3 minutes

1 1/2 cups ice
1/2 cup coffee, cooled
1/2 cup milk
1 heaping tablespoon instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
other optional goodies: peanut butter, cinnamon, almond extract, vanilla bean...the list could go on and on.

Directions: This is complicated so bear with me...
  1. Gather your goodies.
  2. Put all of them in the blender.
  3. Blend until no chunks of ice remain.
  4. Still with me?  Okay, good.
  5. Pour in a glass, top with cocoa nibs and a chunk or two of banana.
  6. Drink.  Mmmm.

Don't forget that you have a few more days to go sign up for my giveaway!  All you have to do is become a follower and leave a comment on the S'mores Cake post about your summer plans!   You can read all about it {here}. Woohoo!

Monday, May 28, 2012

S'mores Cake {plus a giveaway!}


The time has come my friends.

Time to tell you about the My Politic tour.  Time to tell you about some exciting guest post news.  Time to give away some amazing things.  And time to drool over some cake.

Are you so excited?  Because I am!

Alright, let's get started. {and please bear with me...this might be a long one.}

First, let's talk about what I'm going to giveaway!

In celebration of the tour (and maybe a little sucking up for being gone for three weeks), I'm doing my second giveaway!  One of you lucky duckies will be the recipient of the following three things:

In honor of all of the S'mores I will {hopefully} be consuming in the next three weeks, I'm giving away this little S'mores kit from Matchbox Kitchen, which is an adorable blog with gorgeous pictures and delicious looking recipes.  A few of my favorites have been: Momofuku Milk Bar's Carrot Cake and this Edamame Dip with Almond Sesame Crackers.  Go check out the blog.  You'll love it.

To go with the S'mores kit I'm also giving away this ridiculously cool cookbook.  As well as delicious recipes that can be made while camping, this cookbook offers tips on essential equipment, supplies, food storage and preparation safety, cooking methods, and menu planning in the great outdoors.  Sounds wonderful right?  Click {here} to browse through it.

And finally the lucky winner will be receiving the brand new My Politic album, American Will.  You can get a sneak peek of their music {here}.

Sounds amazing right?  Well I've got one more thing.  Instead of just ONE winner, four others will also be receiving a copy of the My Politic album!  Swoon.

*Now for the rules and regulations.*

The giveaway will be open from Monday May 28th 2012 until Friday June 1st at midnight!  Sometime Saturday morning I will choose the five winners using a random number generator, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!  Good luck!

To enter the giveaway you must do the following two things:
1) Leave me a comment telling me about your big plans for the summer!  Lazy days by the pool?  Vacation?  Work?  Moving?  Gardening?  Tell me about it!
2) Become a follower!  You can do that by clicking "Join this site" on the left hand side of the screen.  It's that simple!

And now for a few ways to get yourself an additional entry or two:
1) Follow me on Bloglovin
2) Tweet about this giveaway -- make sure to leave your twitter handle in the comment!
3) Tell me what your favorite post was on Matchbox Kitchen's site
4) Go like My Politic music on Facebook

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!

Giveaway.  Check.

Tour things, next.

I've been hinting at the My Politic tour for quite sometime now.  And finally I get to tell you all about it.  Next Tuesday, I'll be heading out with two of the members from My Politic on an incredible three week music tour that they have put together themselves.  This will be tour number two, but last time was only five days...this one is three weeks.  Three weeks of camping, three weeks of driving, three weeks of glorious music...basically three weeks of unabashed fun.  AND I CANNOT WAIT.  I seriously wish I could bring all of you with me.

That being said...I'm going to throw out the line-up for you.  That way if you happen to be in/around any of these cities on the date given you can come out to the show because that would be ahhhmazing.

June 5th - The HeadHouse in Philadelphia, PA
June 6th - The Acoustic Coffeehouse in Johnson City, TN
June 7th - The Camp House in Chattanooga, TN
June 9th - The Camp House in Chattanooga, TN
June 11th - WonderRoot in Atlanta, GA
June 12th - Remedy Coffee in Knoxville, TN
June 13th - Thats CooL in Nashville, TN
June 15th - House Show in Springfield, MO
June 16th - Springfield Farmers Market in Springfield, MO
June 16th - Copper Run Distillery in Walnut Shade, MO
June 17th - The Bell's BBQ in Ozark, MO (this is at my you're ALL welcome to come!)
June 19th - House Show in Syracuse, NY
June 20th - The HeadHouse in Philadelphia, PA
June 22nd - Epicure Cafe in Fairfax, VA
June 23rd - Radio Bean in Burlington, VT

Impressive, right?

One more thing about these cities...if you know any wonderful food places in these areas that we MUST go...for goodness sake please let me know.  My Politic may be on a music tour...but this girl is on a FOOD tour.

As you can see I'm going to be away from my kitchen for a verrrrry long time.  It's unfortunate, but worth it.  But that also means that getting recipes to you is going to be impossible.  Also unfortunate.  BUT I have good news.  I have rounded up some amazing friends/fellow bloggers to get on here and share some recipes with you.  These people are wonderful so make sure to check back in the coming weeks for their posts...and give them a ridiculous amount of love when you can.

Schedule. Check.

Exciting guest post news.  Check.

Whew.  Are you ready for cake?

S'mores Cake... 
with toasted marshmallow frosting

Makes: 1 three layer 6-inch round cake + 12 cupcakes   Prep Time: 30 minutes  Bake Time: 20-25 minutes   Total Time: 2 hours

{Printable Recipe}

for the chocolate cake - adapted from Our Best Bites
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pans
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

for the graham cracker crunch layer-
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

for the toasted marshmallow frosting - adapted from Sweetapolita
16 large white marshmallows
1 cup confectioners' or powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounce jar of Marshmallow Cream (or fluff)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease three 6-inch cake pans with butter and dust with flour turning over to knock out excess.
  2. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in a medium heatproof bowl and set over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water.  Stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate is melted.  Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.  Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and increase speed to high, whipping until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment and add chocolate mixture, mixing on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing 10 seconds after each addition.  Add 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture.  Mixing each until incorporated, about 15 seconds.  Repeat until all of the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture have been added.
  4. Combine graham cracker crunch layer ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork.  Divide mixture between cake pans and press down in an even layer.
  5. Divide prepared cake batter between pans.  If you have extra, don't worry!  Make cupcakes!
  6. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.  Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, about an hour.  (If baking cupcakes -- bake for 10-12 minutes)
  7. While the cakes are cooling prepare the frosting -- Place marshmallows on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Turn the broiler in your oven on, and broil the marshmallows until they are toasty and brown on top, about 30-60 seconds.  Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, broil until the other side is also golden brown.  Combine butter and powdered sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until blended, about 1 minute.  Add vanilla and mix on high for about 3 minutes.  Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, mixing on the lowest setting for about a minute.
  8. To assemble the cake -- place one layer on a cake stand with the graham cracker layer facing up.  Add several spoonfuls of frosting over the layer and spread evenly.  Repeat with the next two levels.  After the third layer pile the rest of the frosting on top and start pulling down to frost the sides.  Top with graham cracker crumbs and cocoa nibs...or whatever else you can come up with!

Good luck everyone!

**Update: This giveaway is now over!  Congratulations to Courtney from The Fig Tree for winning the grand prize!  Also congratulations to Sue, Andrea, Richard, and Monica for winning a copy of the new My Politic album!  Thank you to everyone that participated!**

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baked Chips

Guess what.

None of you made an offer to let me tag along for your Memorial Day weekend I made plans of my own.  Now are you regretting that offer you didn't make?  Didn't think so.

Last night I got a last minute offer to head to Newport, RI for a day on the beach.  Uhh.  Yes, please. 

So, this morning I got up bright and early, had a nice cup of coffee, packed my beach bag, and then started to make snacks for the day.  Obviously.  You can't go to the beach without snacks.

First I made {these} roasted chickpeas...Packed up some leftover oatmeal cookies from {these} whiskey oatmeal cream pies...Put together a bowl of fruit...And then I whipped up these baked chips...

Baked Chips...

Makes: 4 servings  Prep Time: 5 minutes   Bake Time: 15-20 minutes   Total Time: 25 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

4 russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
1/4 cup olive oil OR 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted
course sea salt
other seasonings (such as rosemary, black pepper, cajun seasoning, sprinkle of cayenne....)

  1. Preheat oven to 500° and grease two large baking sheets.
  2. With a mandoline slicer (obviously I didn't learn my lesson!) or a very sharp knife, slice potatoes very thin, about 1/8 inch thickness. 
  3. Press potatoes with a paper towel to dry them off and then place in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil or melted butter.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings that sound good!  I used a seasoning mix but anything would be good!  Just be creative!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Whiskey Oatmeal Cream Pies

Fact: Memorial Day Weekend is here!

Another Fact: My life (summer life) is like a big 3 day weekend so having Monday "off" seems like just another day.  But I'm excited that you get the day off!  You need it right?

What are you doing to celebrate the long weekend?  Having a barbeque?  Going to the lake/river/beach?  Taking a trip?  Tell me about it!  Or maybe take me with you?  I don't have plans yet...

If you are doing any of the aforementioned things this weekend, I highly suggest that you make these Whiskey Oatmeal Cream Pies and take them with you.  Your friends and family will love, love, love you.  Even though I'm sure they already do.

The cookies are oh so soft and chewy, the cream is unbelievably flavorful with the addition of vanilla bean and whiskey, and it kind of oozes out when you put the second cookie on it.  Mmmm.

Whiskey Oatmeal Cream Pies...   
adapted from Food Plus Words

Makes: Around 24 pies   Prep Time: 10 minutes   Bake Time: 5-7 minutes   Total Time: 15 minutes (for cookies) + 15 minutes (for whiskey cream)

{Printable Recipe}

for the cookies-
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon whiskey
1 vanilla bean (or two teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups oats

for the cream-
4 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons whiskey
1 vanilla bean (or two teaspoons pure vanilla extract)

 Gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 375°.

 Sift flour...

 baking powder...

baking soda...

and salt...

 into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

 In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and brown sugar.

 Beat on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until pale in color and fluffy.

 Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

 Pour in cream...


And the insides from one vanilla bean.  If you can't get your hands on some vanilla bean, you can add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract instead.

 Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

 Remove the bowl from mixer and add the oats.

 Mix with a spoon or rubber spatula.

Spoon cookies onto a greased baking sheet with a tablespoon or something equivalent.  Bake for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the whiskey cream, set a saucepan with 2-3 inches of water over medium heat until it starts to steam.  Combine brown sugar, egg whites, and salt in a medium heat proof bowl, whisking to combine.  Place the bowl over the water making sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water.  Whisking often, heat mixture until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.  Feel the mixture with your fingers to test.  Once the mixture is no longer grainy, transfer contents to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip for 8-10 minutes or until you have a light, voluminous meringue.  Add whiskey and the insides of one vanilla bean.  Beat for 30 seconds to combine.

 Now for assembly...lay one cookie face down.

 Spoon cream on top of cookie.

 Top with second cookie.

Ta-da!  You now have whiskey cream pies!  You can continue to assemble the pies or you can assemble them as needed if you don't feel like taking down 24 whiskey cream pies in one sitting.

A big thank you needs to go out to Momma Bell for supplying the yummy vanilla beans from Mexico!  Thanks mom!  You're the best.

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