Archive of ‘Foodie Penpals’ category

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day: July 2014

It’s been awhile since I have participated in a Foodie Pen Pal exchange. I have really missed connecting with fellow foodies so I thought I would start up with the program again this month. I was hoping my garden would be producing an excess of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and tomatoes to send to my match, but no such luck. Maybe next month! :)

This month I was paired up with Betsy over at Betsy Between the Miles. She sent me a box of homemade and local items along with some Trader Joe’s favorites. Being from California, I love, love, love Trader Joe’s so I am always happy to find new items they stock. One of the first things I Googled when I moved to Chicago was Trader Joe’s. I honestly do not think I would have made the cross-country move if TJ’s didn’t have a Chicago store.

What Was in the Box?

July Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day | cucinakristina.com | #foodiepenpals

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November Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

It’s Foodie Pen pal Reveal Day!

We’re all familiar with Foodie Pen Pals around here, right? I took a few months off because I was overwhelmed with work, but I decided to give it a whirl this month and remembered why it was so much fun!

This month I was paired with Anna from New Orleans. She and I had very similar food tastes so shopping for her was a breeze. We’re both gluten-free and dairy-free so I was eagerly awaiting her goodies. When I opened the package she sent, I was SO excited! She had included all of the items necessary to make a full Diwali dinner.

I swear, my Foodie Pen Pals must all be mind readers because every month they hit the mark so perfectly it’s incredible. Not only do I love, love, love Indian food, but about a week before this package arrived, I was Google searching “Paleo Indian recipes” because I am wanting to experiment more with Indian flavors. 

Here is a picture of the items that Anna included in my package. 

Cucina Kristina - November Foodie Penpals

All gluten-free and almost all of these ingredients are Paleo. Double win!

I could smell the tea the moment I opened the envelope! Anna even went as far as to include recipes for all of the above ingredients. So thoughtful! There’s also fresh papadums, chia seeds and coconut, tamarind paste, Chai tea (my favorite kind of tea next to ginger tea!), vegetable biryani sauce mix, and chili chocolate. I can’t wait to have my own Indian feast. Yum! :-)

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Past Foodie Penpal Reveals:

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

July Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

I have been drowning in job applications for the past month. I never dreamed that finding a teaching job would be so time-consuming and overwhelming. I’ve applied to positions in Chicago and a few of the surrounding suburbs, but I have also been searching and applying for some non-teaching positions as a backup. I literally have not left my computer in almost 3 weeks! It’s rough, but I keep telling myself that one way or the other it will all be over soon and I will be back to work full-time.

In the meantime, I managed to participate in another round of Foodie Penpals! This month I was paired with Lucie from Georgia. Lucie was super on top of things. The deadline to mail packages is the 15th of the month and my package arrived on the 11th! She even included a description of each product along with the history behind it.

July Foodie Penpals

Honey coated pecans

I requested that the items be gluten-free and peanut-free, which meant that I could not receive any of Georgia’s famous peanuts. Lucie included some amazing honey coated pecans. Between my husband and I, these lasted approximately 15 seconds.

July Foodie Penpals

Pork rinds!

This was another winner with my husband. I think he is beginning to become more excited for my Foodie Penpal packages to arrive than I am. These had a very smokey flavor, which I liked a lot. Then, I saw this recipe from Paleo Girl’s Kitchen where she used pork rinds to bread chicken and my mind was totally blown. I am definitely going to have to give that one a test drive.

July Foodie Penpals

Southern condiment trio

I can’t comment personally about the above three items because I haven’t had a chance to try them yet. I am simply DYING to try the Georgia Peach Grilling Sauce, but the weather for the past few weeks has not been grill-friendly. We’ve had a lot of rain and even a few days in the 60’s. The 60’s?! In July? I don’t understand the Midwest. I plan on using it to cook up some chicken, but I am sure it would also be very tasty on shrimp or scallops.

I’d never heard of Mayhaw jelly before and it apparently gets it’s name because “May” is the month in which the “Haw”thorne berries are harvested. The description from Lucie’s note said that it Mayhaw’s are part of the apple family and that Mayhaw jelly has been toted as “the best jelly in the world.” I think I am going to save it for the fall because it sounds like something that would really perk up my taste buds when I am missing summer.

I plan on breaking into that jar of Hot Chow Chow this week. This is also something I had never heard of and when I Googled what to eat it with I realized that the possibilities are endless. Some of the things that I found were as an accompaniment to BBQ pork, mixed in with tuna, as a relish for shrimp tacos, and a topping on an omlete. I LOVE mixing salsas into my scrambled eggs so this is perfect!

To see what I sent to my Foodie Penpal, hop on over to Sharde’s page at http://shoedooo.com/.

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Past Foodie Penpal Reveals:

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

Za’atar Scented Carrot Fries

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have undoubtedly heard me rave about the Foodie Penpals program I participate in each month. Well, I found a Paleo version hosted by Tarah over at What I Gather and Brittanie over at Three Diets One Dinner. How perfect! Paleo Penpals is very similar to Foodie Penpals. Each month you are paired with another participant and you exchange Paleo-friendly items with them. Then, you create a recipe using the items you received from your pen pal. Tarah and Brittanie will put together a roundup post with all of the recipes that were submitted and post it on their blogs at the end of each month. I thought this would be a really great way to expand my Paleo pantry and get some inspiration for new recipes.

This month I was paired with Amanda from Kentucky. She sent me two different spice mixes; one was her own “super secret” pork rub and the other was a spice mix called za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that is a mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac and it used on pretty much everything in the Middle East. It can be used to season root veggies or you can add it to olive oil to make a dip for bread. Some people eat it straight from the jar.

Sumac has a slight citrus taste so my original thought was to make za’atar spiked marinara sauce; however, after adding nearly three tablespoons of it to the pot and finding it didn’t have the punch I was looking for, I gave up that idea. I’ve seen pictures of carrot “fries” floating around various Paleo blogs and decided to give that a try. Success!

Carrot fries are awesome! They have a consistency that is similar to sweet potato fries. The sweetness of the carrots and coconut oil pairs nicely with the tartness of the sumac. You can purchase za’atar online or you can make your own from scratch. If you can’t get your hands on any, you can substitute the za’atar in the recipe below for your favorite all-purpose spice blend or season with plain old salt and pepper.

By the way, have I showed you my method for melting coconut oil?

How to Melt Coconut Oil | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

We don’t own a microwave so I had to get creative!

Yup. That’s my bathroom. That’s my hairdryer. Laugh all you want, but it works like a charm! :)

Za'atar Scented Carrot "Fries" | Via Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Served alongside homemade mayo

*NOTE: This recipe makes a single serving of carrot “fries.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon za’atar

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425˚.
  2. Peel and chop carrots into quarters. You want them to be roughly the same size and thickness.
  3. In a bowl, toss carrots in melted coconut oil for a few minutes to make sure they are well coated.
  4. Add za’atar to the bowl and toss the carrots for another few minutes making sure to distribute the spice evenly.
  5. Spread the carrots onto a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes. Watch these as they have a tendency to burn quickly! It may take a few more minutes or a few less depending on how thick you cut your “fries.”
  6. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before serving.

May Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

I missed the sign up deadline for Foodie Penpals last month. Sad face. I am very happy to be participating again this month! This month I was paired with Paul, a fellow spicy food lover from Arizona. Paul sent me so many awesome things I couldn’t fit them all into one photo! Ok, enough chitchat. Let’s get started!

Dried Kiwi and Apple Chips!

Dried Kiwi and Apple Chips!

Up first we have dried kiwi and apple chips. These are my two favorite dried fruits to eat after dried mango. My beloved A&G only sells dried kiwi mixed with other tropical fruits so I am really excited to have an entire bag of just kiwi!

Wasabi Almonds, Kashi Go Lean bar, Chicken Enchilada Soup Mix

Wasabi Almonds, Kashi Go Lean bar, Chicken Enchilada Soup Mix

Next, we’ve got wasabi almonds. I have had these before, and I love them! They are not as hot as wasabi peas so if you are weary of trying spicy things this might be a good treat to get your feet wet. They have nice kick, but they won’t make your eyes water and your face turn red.

In the middle we have a Kashi Go Lean Roll. This went right into the glovebox of my car so I could enjoy it as a post workout snack. It might also serve as a “I’m stuck in terrible traffic and need something to eat immediately” snack. We’ll have to see which one comes first. :)

To the right we have chicken enchilada soup mix. This is an individual serving of soup. How cleaver! Tortilla soup is a favorite around our house so, since the flavors are similar, I am sure this will be a winner.

Chili Powder, Dark Chocolate with Orange and Chili, Chickpea Curry, Burger Seasoning

Chili Powder, Dark Chocolate with Orange and Chili, Chickpea Curry, Burger Seasoning

So much awesome is happening in this photo, I don’t even know where to start. Let’s go clockwise from the top.

Chili Nuevo Mexico – This is a New Mexico chili powder. I JUST ran out of chili powder so this came at the perfect time! I can’t wait to use this in chili, in burgers, or as a seasoning on grilled veggies!

Cocoacara – This. Chocolate. Is. AMAZING. This is a dark chocolate bar with orange and chili powder. Need I say more?

Mr. Kook’s Indian Style Sprinkler – This burger seasoning sounds really exciting. I can’t wait to try it! I think this would pair nicely with a cool coleslaw topping.

Curry Tree Chickpeas Curry – Another single serving meal. I am happy Paul sent me these things because they will be perfect to keep on hand once I start working full-time in the fall.

Hot Salsa, All-Purpose Seasoning, BBQ Sauce, Mango Chili Marinade

Hotter ‘N’ Hell Salsa, Sazón All-Purpose Seasoning, Sweet ‘n’ Sticky Molasses BBQ Sauce, Mango Chili Sauce

Shotgun Willie’s Jalapeño Salsa – The label says this is “Hotter ‘n’ Hell.” I’ll let you know if it lives up to its claim!

Sazón All-Purpose Seasoning – Paul said that he liked to sprinkle this on oven roasted root veggies. Lucky for me, I LOVE oven roasted root veggies!

Garland Jack’s Secret Six BBQ Sauce – My husband is really excited about this one. To be honest, I am not sure what to use BBQ sauce on other than ribs so I am excited to start researching and experimenting ways to use this. This list from Bon Appétit has some great ideas. The BBQ whipped cream with grilled pineapple is calling my name!

Last, but not least, Paul included a jar of Mango Chili sauce. This is another item that I use quite often that I just ran out of. Paul must be a mind-reader! I use this as a dip for steamed veggies, shrimp, and in salad dressings. I usually use Trader Joe’s brand so I am excited to give another brand a whirl.

I can’t thank Paul enough for this fantastic box of goodies! I wish I could be paired with Paul in August when my garden is exploding with peppers and I am looking for takers. I have a feeling he would be the perfect candidate for home-grown jalapeños, fish peppers, and Habaneros.

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Past Foodie Penpal Reveals:

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

March Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

While I can’t believe March is over already, I look forward to the end of the month because it is Foodie Penpal Reveal Day! I love visiting sites from participating bloggers and seeing what everyone received.

This month I was paired with Mary, a reader from the East Coast. She and I have been emailing back and forth throughout the month and she is just as sweet as can be. Here is a picture of what she sent me.

Photo courtesy of my husband!

Photo courtesy of my husband!

I am out-of-town at the moment so I had my husband send me a photo of the goods. I can’t wait to get home and dig in! In the box was:

  • Nature Valley Protein Bars (Salted Caramel!)
  • Planter’s Nut Medley (Pistachio, Almonds, Peanuts, Pecans, Hazelnuts, and Walnuts)
  • Stash Ginger Peach tea (LOVE Stash tea!)
  • Coppola Artichoke Marinara sauce (a locally made and jarred sauce)

I am the most excited about the artichoke marinara sauce. When I lived in California, I ate artichokes at least three times a week (no joke). I LOVE artichokes! They are one of my favorite vegetables, but can rarely be found in Chicago outside of summer. Typically, they are also very expensive, but I buy them regardless of price because I love them so much. I plan on using this sauce on spaghetti squash or to make zucchini pizza boats. I might even break my Paleo diet and make some wonton pizza pockets.

The nut medley and protein bars will be a great post-workout snack and the tea will be a great addition to my collection. I drink tea every night before bed and ginger/peach is one of my favorite combinations. I am going to save a few packets and drink it iced once the weather warms up a bit.

THANK YOU, Mary for your thoughtful box of goodies! I can’t wait to sign-up again next month.

Past Foodie Penpal Reveals:

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

February Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

I have been a part of the Foodie Penpal program for the last 5 months and each month I am blown away by people’s generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness. This month, I was paired with Maeve over at Adventure with Maeve. She is about to launch a new blog with a new domain name so be on the lookout for that!

In my initial email to her, I told her that I had been trying to eat as 100% Paleo as possible, but that she should not feel pressured to find Paleo-friendly items. Given that Paleo relies heavily on fresh fruits, veggies, and meat, I thought it would be difficult to find non-perishable items that could easily be mailed and did not require refrigeration. Well, Maeve is super awesome and not only found me lots of Paleo-friendly items, but she also baked me a loaf of Bacon, Ginger, Banana Bread.

I feel really terrible because somehow I lost the photo I took of it! I thought I had uploaded it so I deleted the photos off of my camera, and now I can’t find it. After having some for breakfast, I sliced up the rest of the loaf to freeze for later so it’s not very photogenic at the moment. :( I stole the picture below from Maeve’s blog so she gets the photo credit for it.

Cucina Kristina | February Foodie Penpal Goodies

Photo Source: Adventure with Maeve http://adventurewithmaeve.blogspot.com//caption

Here is a peak at the rest of the loot.

[caption id="attachment_1981" align="alignnone" width="384"]Cucina Kristina | February Foodie Penpal Goodies February Foodie Penpal Goodies

She included the coconut flour and ground flaxseed that was leftover from the bread along with the recipe. Also included was a bag of Almond Meal. The bread was good, although I didn’t taste the ginger too much. If I make it again, I will definitely pump up the ginger. Since the bread wasn’t super sweet, I ate it alongside some runny eggs for breakfast. I haven’t tried my hand at Paleo baking yet, but this bread really piqued my interest so I might give it a whirl sometime soon!

Next up we have Roasted Coconut Chips and Powerberries, both from Trader Joe’s. I had to lie to my husband and tell him I ate all of the coconut chips to keep him away from them. I will definitely be picking these up next time I go to TJ’s. The Powerberries are dangerous! They are made from açai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry juice covered in dark chocolate. Need I say more? SO GOOD. To feed my chocolate addiction, Maeve also included Dark Chocolate Cocoa Nibs and Salt and Pepper Dark Chocolate. I haven’t tried either of those yet, but I am sure they are amazing. What isn’t amazing from Trader Joe’s?

Lastly, we’ve got a box of Trader Joe’s Gingermints and Grill Mates Hawaiian Luau marinade. I have written about my obsession with ginger chews a few times throughout this blog and the gingermints have now been added to my list of “must buy” items. They have a VERY intense ginger flavor, which I love. I am also excited about Maeve’s idea of including a marinade. This one sounds really good and since grilling season is almost upon us, we will be putting it to use soon!

I can’t get over this box of treats! It was so thoughtfully put together, and I love everything. The Foodie Penpal program has been such a wonderful addition to my blog and to my life. I have met some really wonderful people through it and would highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a blogger to join!

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

January Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!

Ack! I forgot to post my January Foodie Penpal reveal. I’m a terrible blogger! This month I was paired up with a gal named Lexi from Astoria, New York. She sent me a package that included some sweets from a local area bakery, which was awesome. Here is everything that she included.

January Foodie Pen Pal items from Astoria, New York.

January Foodie Pen Pal items from Astoria, New York.

Dried pineapple are a serious weakness of mine. The reason I piled the lollipop and Almond Butter bar on top of them was to make the container appear full. I tore right into those and didn’t want people to think Lexi had sent me a half empty carton of pineapple! :)

The lollipop was such a fun idea! This might sound silly, but it has been a long time since I have eaten a lollipop and it made me feel like a kid again. It was made by a company called Yummy Earth. They make organic candy and have fun flavors like Pomegranate Pucker and Strawberry Smash. They are also certified organic and free of most allergens. The flavor she gave me was Wet-Face Watermelon.

I have not tried the cookies on the left yet, but Lexi included a hand-written note and said they taste like coffee. My husband hates coffee so I know those will be safe in the cupboard. I am usually very good about sharing my treats with him, but sometimes I get stingy and hide things. Also included in the package were yummy coconut macaroons.

Our matches for February came out yesterday so be sure to check back on February 28 to see what I get this month. You can read about what I have gotten in past months below.

If you want to read about what I sent my Penpal, head over here.

Wanna be a Foodie Penpal? Find out how! Click the stamp to sign up!

The Lean Green Bean

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:

– On the 5th of the 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 can choose 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 & UK 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 in the UK, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

November Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!

It’s Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day!

This was my second month participating in Foodie Pen Pals and I am having such a blast with it! If you like what you read and want to join the fun, information about the program can be found at the bottom of this post.

This month I was paired with a reader named Kellie. Kellie is from Tennessee and she is super sweet! She was actually a big inspiration in my decision to include the new travel tab on here and begin to write about my travels. It’s something many of my friends have encouraged me to do over the years and Kellie’s enthusiasm for traveling made me realize that there is an audience out there that would be interested in reading about traveling! Big shout out to Kellie for that!

Can I start with a picture of the box my goodies arrived in?

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

LOVE the pink zebra tape!

Super cute! I love the patterned duct tape, it would make a really fun stocking stuffer. Don’t you think?

In my initial email to Kellie, I had mentioned that I loved all things fall so she made it a point to stuff the box to the brim with fall goodness. Where do I start? How about with breakfast.

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

Only 140 calories each!

It seems like I am constantly rushing out the door 5 minutes behind schedule so I am always looking for breakfast items that I can eat on the go. Last month, my foodie pen pal made me these amazing power balls. I tried to recreate them, but must not have used the same recipe because the ones I made were kind of a mess. But, mess or no mess they were quick, filling, healthy, and easy to grab and eat on the go. Sadly, my local Trader Joe’s no longer had these pumpkin bars in stock, but they had fig and strawberry which are both delicious as well!

Up next is tea. I drink a lot of tea throughout the day. My tea habit began when I had an office job. It was always so cold in my office that I started drinking tea for the sole purpose of warming my hands on the cup. One of my favorite teas on the market is the ginger tea by Yogi Tea, but both of these are becoming close contenders.

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day

Different in flavor, equal in awesomeness!

Continuing with the ginger theme, let’s move on to the ginger chews. This is an item I buy regularly at Trader Joe’s so I was über excited to see them when I opened my box. As luck would have it, I was down to my last few in the package I had purchased previously. If you like these, I would also recommend the mango ginger chews by Chimes.

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

Ginger chews from Trader Joe’s

Speaking of mango! I love tropical flavors, especially now that I live in Chicago. One of my favorite ways to combat the winter blues is to snack on tropical flavors and daydream about summer.

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

Dried mango is a perfect on-the-go snack

Of course, what foodie pen pal package would be complete without chocolate?! That dark chocolate with coconut caramel was tasty! The other I am trying to save for a rainy day. I have a feeling it would pair well with a full glass of red wine. But, with only 100 calories per bar, they are going fast when my sweet tooth strikes! :)

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”  Charles M. Schulz

Finally, Kellie made me some homemade pumpkin oatmeal cookies and included the recipe! I covered it up with cookies because I am going to be stingy with the recipe for a little bit. These had the perfect balance of sweetness and pumpkin. I definitely want to bring these to a few parties before I start handing out the secret ingredients!

Cucina Kristina | Foodie Pen Pals

Pumpkin oatmeal cookies with white chocolate and cranberries

THANK YOU, Kellie for all of the fall goodies. I loved everything! xoxo!

Join the fun! Find out how to become a Foodie Penpal below.

The Lean Green Bean

October Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

This month I decided to participate in Foodie Penpals, an idea that was created by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. It was SO much fun, and I can’t wait to do it again next month! Full details about the program can be found at the bottom of this post. In a nutshell, you sign up over at Lindsay’s site and are paired with another blogger or reader at the beginning of the month. Then, you send them a package of goodies ($15 limit), and you receive a package of goodies from a different blogger or reader. At the end of the month, you write a blog post about the items you received if you are a blogger. If you are a reader, you can opt to write a guest post for the person who sent you items.

This month I was paired with a reader named Natalie. She was super sweet and sent me some amazing goodies (store-bought and homemade!). In addition to the goodies in the box, she also included a recipe for a pumpkin fruit dip. I almost planned a Halloween party so I had an excuse to make buckets of it. Yum!

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

The stash!

Here’s everything. Let’s take a closer look.

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Whole wheat pumpkin bread and power balls from
The Eat Clean Diet

Oh yes… that is homemade whole wheat pumpkin bread and power balls. Please note that she did send me an entire loaf of bread. I just couldn’t wait to try it so I dove right in! It was moist and tasted like fall. As soon I opened the box, I could smell the spices as if this bread were baking in my oven despite the fact that it was in a sealed plastic bag!

The power balls were one of my favorite things she sent. I had to do a couple of days of observation this week in a school beginning at 7:30 a.m. Those power balls were my breakfast and allowed me to survive sans snacks with middle schoolers and kindergarteners until lunch. I’ve pinned a few breakfast ball and breakfast bar ideas onto my Pinterest board, but I haven’t gotten around to making them yet. After this week, I will definitely be making some ASAP. They were a lifesaver!

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

I love peanut butter!

I was so excited to see those packets of Justin’s! I have seen these around the internet, but haven’t tried them. They are so great for an on-the-go snack because they are portioned out and take up very little space. I’ve been taking them to class with me and squeezing them on pieces of sliced apple. The flavors she included were maple almond, honey peanut butter, and chocolate hazelnut. The PB Thins were also a perfectly portioned treat. Yum, yum, yum!

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Natalie, the weather cooperated; it made it intact!

Dark chocolate AND coffee?! This girl read my mind! I’m saving this bar for a rainy day. Particularly one where I have been stuck in traffic for hours and want nothing more than to settle down into a bubble bath, grab a magazine, and spoil myself with chocolate and red wine. One of my favorite treats is chocolate covered espresso beans so I’m sure this bar will be divine!

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

4g protein, 3g fiber, 18g whole grain per serving!

I am kicking myself for not trying these with the Justin’s nut butters. I’m sure they would have been so good with them. Oh well. These are awesome with Laughing Cow cheese and would be a great healthy party treat. They would be a prefect accompaniment to a cheese and meat platter or as a substitution for bread in a traditional crostini. You could also serve them topped with bruschetta.

Cucina Kristina: Foodie Penpal Reveal Day

Beet and sweet potato chips!

Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE beets. Roasted, raw, pickled, or canned. It doesn’t matter how they are prepared; I can’t resist a beet. I used to keep cans (plural) of them in my desk at work for midday snacks. I’m not kidding. I have been trying to make baked sweet potato and beet chips for a while now and my finicky oven just will not cooperate. Everything will be going according to plan, then I sneeze, and the entire sheet pan of chips is burnt to a crisp. One of these days I’ll get it right. In the meantime, these are a great swap. Was I supposed to eat the whole bag in one sitting? Yes? Good.

I want to thank Natalie again for such a wonderful first experience with Foodie Penpals! I loved everything and now have a few new items to add to my snack rotation. THANK YOU a million times over! xoxo!

There you have it! Does it sound like fun? Find out how to become a Foodie Penpal below.

The Lean Green Bean