Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Foodie Penpals Reveal!

FPP-post

Hey foodies, it’s time for yet another Foodie Penpals reveal! My June FPP, Leigh-Ann, sent me a box that was totally chock full of goodies! I didn’t know where to start!

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The box included everything from a Lindt Sea Salt Chocolate bar, gluten free pasta,  Healthy Choice soup, Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter, Justin’s Almond Butter, Lara Bars, Clif Bars, Power Bars, Fig Bars, almonds, yummy drink mixes, a fruit strip, and … Roasted Seaweed Snacks. Yes, a box filled to the brim with healthy (& delish) snacks!

It basically goes without saying that my favorite thing was the Lindt Sea Salt Chocolate bar, so delish! I love anything with chocolate & sea salt.  Peanut butter and pasta are like two of my main food groups, ya just can’t go wrong with that. Loved the almonds and as well as some of the bars. Haven’t tried the soup yet but it looks great! The only thing that made me somewhat skeptical was, yes, you guessed it… the sea weed snacks. I never even knew they existed lol. They are were paper thin and of course, green… and just not my cup of tea lol. But I’m sure they are really good for you! ;)

I want to thank Leigh-Ann for sending me this awesome box! Also a thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for putting all this foodie fun together! :)

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And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-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 & 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.

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for July, please CLICK HERE (www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/) to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!
*If you're from Europe, please
CLICK HERE (www.thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/) to signup.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Walton’s Fancy and Staple in Austin

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Hey lovelies! On Thursday I took a little road trip for the day with my family to my favorite city, Austin! It had been a little over a year since the last time I was there (I live 3 hours away) and I had really been missing it! But we were actually there for a specific purpose, so I could take a little tour of where I might, in the hopefully near future, be going to culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu! I know I have yet to mention it on here but I have been considering attending culinary school for a while now and well, it truly doesn’t get much better than Le Cordon Bleu. After this tour I couldn’t be more convinced of that. But I’ll blog more about all of that very soon!

After the tour, we got a chance to stop & grab a bite to eat at a place I have been wanting to check out for some time now, Walton’s Fancy and Staple! It’s actually one of Sandra Bullock’s two restaurants on 6th street, the other being Bess, which I hope to check out on my next visit. But I’m a total sucker for cute cafes and Walton’s had my heart as soon as I walked through the doors.

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Walton’s sells a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee, desserts, as well as flowers & gifts. The place is so lovely! A little smaller & more compact than I expected but so cute!

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I loved the d├ęcor & atmosphere of Walton’s! Brick walls, hanging light fixtures, vintage wooden tables, flowers everywhere, not to mention the pretty display cases of delectable treats! It all just beckons you to sit down & relax with a latte & a macaron. Which is exactly what I did!

But first I did order a sandwich, I got the Freebird Chicken, which is grilled free-range chicken, jalapeno mayo, lettuce, tomato, & provolone cheese on multigrain bread. And in all honesty, it was good, but not rave worthy, in my opinion. But the coffee & macarons on the other hand definitely were!

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Okay, this Mocha Latte & Raspberry Macaron were so delish, let me tell ya! The latte was so creamy, I drank just about the whole thing…would have finished it if I hadn’t already felt so full lol. Plus, isn’t it pretty?! I love latte art! And the raspberry macaron was just about the best I’ve ever tasted! If I could’ve taken a whole box of these babies home, I would’ve! I do plan to finally try my hand at macarons very soon (picked up a bag of almond flour while in Austin at Whole Foods) and they will definitely be raspberry… and hopefully edible. ;)

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In addition to the macaron, my mom & I shared a chocolate cupcake with cookie dough frosting. I really loved the taste of the frosting but it was way too hard and stiff to eat. I think it was still too cold from being refrigerated. If it had time to sit out for a while I think it would’ve been really good.

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My dad ordered their chocolate caramel tart. So pretty, isn’t it? He wasn’t a huge fan but my mom & I were and gladly took it off his hands lol.

All in all, I really enjoyed Walton’s! If I do move to Austin to attend Le Cordon Bleu I can totally see going there to enjoy a latte and relax, read, or blog. It’s totally worth checking out if for no other reason than the delish coffee, desserts, sweet staff, and calming atmosphere. Definitely looking forward to paying Walton’s another visit next time I’m in Austin! :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Music Break: “The One That Got Away” – The Civil Wars

Oh let me tell ya, my music lovin’ heart is so happy right now! My most favorite dynamic duo in the world, the lovely Joy Williams & the handsome John Paul White of The Civil Wars are at it again! They just released their new single, “The One That Got Away” on June 11th. It’s the first single to hit the airwaves from their brand new self titled album that is set to drop on August 6th!! Eek! Can you stand it?! I can’t even! :D

Now if you’re familiar with TCW you know that they have been on a hiatus since citing “irreconcilable differences of ambition and internal discord” in the fall of last year. So it was very much a surprise to hear news of a new album. Is this a reunion? Have they resolved their issues? That remains to be seen. Since the majority of this album was completed before the split it makes one wonder if this is more of a swan song for the Wars.

What is quite evident is that pain and tension make for some great art! And that pain and tension is felt in every single note of this very intense & somewhat brutal song. I’m addicted.

“Oh, if I could go back in time
When you only held me in my mind
Just a longing gone without a trace
Oh, I wish I never ever seen your face
I wish you were the one
Wish you were the one that got away”

The tension of their personal issues, whatever they may be, almost seem to be fueling their art. It’s all a bit darker this time around. In a recent newsletter about the album they have stated, “The album was recorded amidst a grueling touring schedule, exhausting workload and a growing disconnect from their families.” 

It’s also a little bit of a departure from their usual sparse instrumentation. I was quite surprised to hear drums on this song…but it actually works.

If this track is any indication of what the album is going to be like, August 6th cannot come fast enough! Whatever the future looks like for TCW, I honestly couldn’t be more excited for this new album and just feel very thankful to have more music from them to treasure.

To pre-order the album click here. Also, to see their live in studio cut of this song, which is possibly even more intense yet beautiful, click here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies

Hey friends & foodies! I feel like I have been MIA from my sweet little corner of the world lately and I’m missing it! So what better way to attempt to get back to the blogosphere (yet again) than with a yummy recipe!

A couple weeks ago I was in the mood to try a crazy and fun new recipe. Maybe something slightly over the top. And where else do you go but the # 1 source for crazy over the top recipes but Pinterest, right? I stumbled upon this lovely recipe for Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies and thought they were perfect! And they really were… totally fun, totally over the top, and pretty freakin’ delish!

In all honesty, I’ve never been a huge fan of red velvet cake. That may be very anti-southern of me but it’s just never been my cup of tea… err slice of cake, so to speak. But red velvet in brownie form with chocolate and Oreos? Now you're speaking my language!

Red Velvet Oreo Truffle Brownies -

(Recipe from http://pizzazzerie.com)

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Moist red velvet brownie with a layer of crushed Oreos mixed with chocolate, topped with a layer of melted chocolate and a generous sprinkle of chocolate chips. Yes, make no mistake, this is one decadent dessert but it was truly love at first bite. All the layers compliment each other perfectly. It’s the first time I’ve ever had red velvet with anything other than cream cheese or buttercream icing…but this dessert breaks all the rules of red velvet cake. And I must admit, I like this crazy rebel of a brownie better!

I don’t know if you’ve ever made those Oreo truffles before but if you have, picture eating one of those with a slice of red velvet cake, and you have these brownies!

I had a little trouble getting the brownie done, but an extra 5 to 8 minutes in the oven seemed to do the trick! I also didn’t take the brownies out of the pan like the recipe says to do, I just didn’t really see any need for it. And being all out of mini chips, I used the regular sized semi-sweet chips along with some white chocolate chips as well.

Give this recipe a try when your in the mood for a decadent fun treat! :)

Ingredients:
1 Duncan Hines box Red Velvet cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 package Jell-O instant white chocolate pudding (3.3 ounces)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package Oreos
8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 package (1/2lb) chocolate bark (CandiQuick) (or about 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips)
mini chocolate chips for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine cake mix, melted butter, eggs, pudding mix, vegetable oil and mix well until thoroughly combined (2-3 minutes on medium of electric mixer).

Spray a 9x13 with nonstick cooking spray. I like the baking variety that has flour in it. Then spread the red velvet brownie layer into the pan. It will be VERY thick, use the back of a spoon (or clean hands) to help spread it into all edges of the pan.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (ovens vary so watch closely). Let cool completely before flipping out.

Crush package of Oreos in a food processor (or in a large plastic bag and rolling pin). Melt cream cheese for 15 seconds in a microwave to soften. Stir together crushed Oreos and cream cheese until blended smooth. Carefully spread out Oreo truffle mixture on top of baked red velvet brownies. Use your hands to help press it down instead of spreading to avoid tearing the brownies.

Melt chocolate candy bark (or chocolate chips) and pour over top Oreo truffle layer. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips while still warm. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

May Foodie Penpals Reveal!

FPP-post

Hey fellow foodies! I know, I’m 2 days late with this reveal… but in my defense I was visiting my cousin & her new beautiful baby boy for a couple days. So that’s a pretty good excuse in my book. ;)

My May Foodie Penpal, Anna, hails all the way over from the island of Guam! Which is definitely the farthest a FPP box has ever traveled to me! I honestly didn’t know much about Guam but it was so fun to get learn about it from Anna and to get to sample some of the local goods in the lovely box she sent me!

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Is that not the prettiest postcard ever?!

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Anna made sure to send little notes attached to each treat!

This was one of the most fun boxes I’ve received as it included some new foods I’d never even heard of but was really excited to taste!

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The box included:

Coconut Oil – I was so happy to see this in the box! I started using coconut oil about a month or so ago and I’m just about out. I’ve been using it for cooking, baking, and for my skin. You can use it for so many different purposes and it’s so healthy for you! Love this stuff!

Boonie Bee Honey made with local Mangos – So delish! Love the flavor of the mango in this honey!

Asparagus Biscuits – Okay, I can’t lie, I was so skeptical about these lol! I had never heard of Asparagus Biscuits before… I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But I decided to be brave and give it a taste…and it wasn’t bad. I honestly didn’t think they had much of a taste… I can’t describe the taste but they were just a little bland to me. I dipped one into the honey and it was actually pretty good like that. I don’t know if I would actually eat them on their own but they’re perfect for dipping!

Tita’s Guguria – This reminded me of cereal; a little sweet, crunchy. Makes a really good snack!

Spicy Momso Jam – This is so delish… and spicy! Like I needed water after just one bite lol. Love the kick this jam has!

Lindt Chili Dark Chocolate - You just cannot go wrong with Lindt! I had actually never tasted the Chili Dark Chocolate bar before but needless to say, I loved it! This was gone so fast!

I want to thank Anna for this awesome box! It was so fun to sample a taste of the island! And also a thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for organizing all of the foodie fun! :)

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And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals. In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-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 & 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.

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for June, please CLICK HERE (www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/) to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by June 4th as pairings will be emailed on June 5th!
*If you're from Europe, please
CLICK HERE (www.thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/) to signup.

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