Foodie Pen Pal Fun – May

The joy of my life with joining Foodie Pen Pals is that so far, with every pen pal package, there has been at least one item that has been a game changer for me. Whether I knew I would love my treat at first sight like last month or whether it was a whole new, never-before-seen item that I PRAY is sold in Texas stores like this month, I think this is what the pen pal program is all about. I would have never known Justin’s peanut butter cups existed without Laura sending them to me in April. Nor would I have known the deliciousness of breakfast biscuits without Debra changing my world this month. Sit tight, and I’ll tell you all about it!

This month I was paired with two runners. I sent my package to Sara over at Run Around Sara. I was a little nervous because she said she is kind of a picky eater, but she also said she likes spicy, sweet, and salty, so pop over and see how I fared. 🙂 I aimed to send her a bit of Texas, touch on some foods she told me she liked, and maybe introduce her to a few new items that I know I love, even as a result of the pen pal program – hello, Biscoff! I received my package from Debra in New Mexico who blogs at Miles to Run. She is serious business about running, y’all. Go see what she is about. She sent me a fantastic package! Check out all these great items and this sweet card which now lives on my refrigerator door.

I was happy to see all the Skinny Cow and Fiber One treats. Recently, I’d had a conversation with my mom and grandmother about Skinny Cow being a good brand for healthier treats, but I’d never actually tried anything other than the ice cream. Well, now I have! The caramel clusters didn’t ring my bell too loudly, and there were only 5 in the package. However, that peanut butter heavenly crisp bar? HELLO! It smelled and tasted just like a Nutty Bar! De-freaking-licious! I was so happy to eat that sucker! I will be getting some more of those, for darn sure. The Fiber One brownie was a nice chocolate treat for the afternoon at work, but closer to the caramel clusters than the peanut butter crispy bar.



I’m rationing the chocolate truffles she sent me. There are four in the box from Cocopotamus, which is apparently a well known chocolate shop in New Mexico. At the time of writing, I’ve eaten the salt and pepper truffle which sounds STRANGE, I know. But it was actually quite good. Again, it is something I would have never ordered on my own, but because someone sent it to me, I’ll try it, and I’m glad I did. I have the following flavors waiting for me: red chile/cinnamon, dark chocolate fudge, and peppermint dark chocolate. Because there is no writing on the package, it’s just roulette when picking. What a food adventure!

Speaking of adventures in food, can you all identify all these different beans? How fun to get a homemade bean mix?? Debra is going to email me her favorite recipe for making them. I’m really looking forward to that.

Okay, y’all. Here is the game changer. Get ready. Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.
Yep. I’ll wait if you want to go out and find some right now. They are that good. I wasn’t sure what to think of them at all, and Debra had never had them, either; she got us both a box. I hope she loves them as much as I do. Heavens to Betsy. I took them to work the first day I had them and ended up sharing with some co-workers, much to their delight. When you open the little foil package, the most delightful oatmeal blueberry aroma wafts out, and you think, “How does it smell that amazing?” It smells freshly made! There are four thin, crispy wafers of blueberry and oatmeal tastiness just waiting for you. It’s a bit chewy where the blueberries are. You can see actual oats. There are hints of cinnamon. It’s a good thing you can’t see me drooling on my keyboard right now. My co-workers loved them just as much as I did. We were all amazed at how good they smelled and how homey they tasted. Thank you, Debra, for making our morning! I will have to ration these also, but they are a welcome addition to my breakfast rotation. Now to find out if and where they sell them in my area!

If you are not already participating in Foodie Pen Pals, you should be. It’s seriously sweeping the nation and practically sweeping the globe. I don’t make this up. Visit Lindsay’s blog to find out the details. You should sign up by June 4th to get your match on June 5th. There is a spending limit of $15, and you put your package in the mail by the 15th of the month with the treats and a handwritten note/recipe. Then you wait on your own fantastic package to come in the mail. When it does, you rejoice, photo-document, and eat. 🙂 Then we all post about them at the end of the month. It’s a delightful way to make new friends across the country and learn about so many new places, foods, and people. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #foodiepenpals. Come, join us, won’t you?

The Lean Green Bean

Oatmeal Pancakes

These delicious, hearty pancakes have the ability to knock your plain-jane buttermilk pancakes out of the park. Crrraaaaackkk! It’s a home-run, folks! No lie – they are some of the best pancakes I’ve eaten in my life and believe me, I’m quite the pancake eater. Check out my Food Memories page for more about eating pancakes. 🙂 I first learned about these pancakes from one of my regular food blogs in May and since then they’ve become part of the regular rotation. In my opinion, these pancakes have more stay-with-you power than regular buttermilk or Bisquick pancakes, which is one of the reasons I like them so much. It’s sort of why I prefer wheat bread to white bread. It’s a little chewier, a bit more dense, and a whole lot more flavor. Plus, because they are oatmeal, I feel better about eating copious amounts of them. You will also want to eat copious amounts because they are ridiculously tasty.

Deliciousness on a plate!

Oatmeal Pancakes
(taken and adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3/4 cup oat flour – 1 cup oats ground in the food pro yields about 3/4 oat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour – if you don’t have whole wheat flour, 1 cup AP flour is totally fine
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt – or 3/4 tsp if you want to measure
3 tbsp melted and cooled butter (plus a wee bit more for the pan)
1 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup – not the maple flavored corn syrup either, but the real deal
1 cup cooked oatmeal

1. Assuming you are like me and don’t have leftover cooked oatmeal…start cooking the oatmeal now, according to the package directions. I use 1 cup water and 1/2 cup oatmeal to make 1 cup cooked.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl. Be careful adding cold and hot ingredients together. I suggest adding the butter to the oatmeal after they’ve both cooled a bit and then adding the oatmeal to the milk/eggs/honey a little bit at a time.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold. Expect the batter to be thick. Don’t overmix.
5. Heat a skillet over med/med-high heat (about 5 or 6 on my stove dial) until water sizzles when flicked onto the pan.
6. Reduce heat to med-low (about 3 or 4 on my dial) and brush some of the melted butter on the pan.
7. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour batter onto pan. I get two pancakes per round.
8. When sides are slightly dry and there are holes bubbling on top, flip over. I set my timer for 2:30 and that is usually spot on.
9. Let cook 2 minutes on other side and remove from pan.
10. Brush pan with melted butter before each round – it doesn’t need a lot, just enough to keep the pancakes from sticking.
11. Brush, rinse, repeat until batter is all gone.

Pancake Making Tip

What I’ve learned making these pancakes and others is to brush the skillet with the melted butter and keep the pan on medium-low heat. Melted butter seems to work better for me than just relying on Teflon or non-stick spray. It’s good to have patience with the pancakes cooking on medium-low as that keeps the outsides from burning before the insides are cooked. Since I started doing these two things, I feel like my pancakes come out stellar every time. If you think they aren’t browning like you would want, turn the stove up just a smidge at a time as the heat will sort of accumulate…at least with my stove.

The batter makes 16 – 18 pancakes for me which I keep in a zip-top bag in the fridge to eat throughout the week. They reheat well in the toaster at work and are a delicious breakfast or snack. As a single gal, I’m not daunted by the fact I can’t eat (or at least shouldn’t eat!) the entire batch on the first day. I like that there are so many as this means I can enjoy them all week long.  I encourage you to give these a try – I promise you won’t be disappointed. Happy eating!

Nutritional Info for one 4-inch pancake (or what 1/4 cup makes)
Calories: 102
Fat: 3.6 g
Carbs: 14.6 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Sugar: 3.8 g
Protein: 3.3 g
Calcium: 7.3%
Iron: 3.3 %