Foodie Pen Pal Fun: February

I love to get fun mail! So often my mailbox is filled with circulars and bills to be paid. It’s a joy and a delight to get mail from friends and family. I don’t get fun mail too often, though, outside of the birthday/Christmas season or wedding/birth announcements. Imagine my excitement, then, when I happened upon the opportunity to be a part of the grand adventure of The Lean Green Bean‘s Foodie Pen Pals! Some might claim coincidence, but I know it was meant to be. 🙂 I followed Lindsay’s Twitter on Saturday morning, read her tweets about the program by noon, and was signed up by the deadline by bedtime. YES, PLEASE! This is certainly my cup of tea! Sign up, make friends, send packages of foodie treats, and receive foodie treats? This is so meant for me! Food and friends?? Do you know me?? Joy! 🙂

Lindsay assigned me to send a package of treats to Carly in North Carolina. I sent her some Tex-Mex SASS sauce and Blanco Valley Farm’s jalapeño salsa mix from the Farmer’s Market, some Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, Italian seasoning blend from Penzey’s, a few chocolate treats from World Market, and a package of fun cupcake liners. I received a package from Sarah at The Smart Kitchen in Virginia. That Sarah sure knows how to send a package! I’m excited to share my foodie pen pal treats with y’all! Here is everything I got, minus the sweet note she included in the package.

Goodies from Sarah

Sarah asked me who I had a secret celebrity crush on, so I confessed my love for Will Smith. You know it’s true…he is a good-lookin’ man, and funny too! 🙂 She cleverly sent me “Gettin’ ‘Figgy’ Wit It” cookies. They are the most amazing (vegan!) cookies! They have figs, walnuts, and I’m certain cinnamon, too. I’ve never eaten vegan baked goods before so Sarah’s cookies were my introduction into that genre. Honestly, I was a little skeptical, and I’m still a little confused on how you make a delicious cookie like that without any animal products. I ate one immediately upon opening the package, just to see, and then had to sternly tell myself I was not allowed to eat the entire bag that night, even if it was Fat Tuesday. They are THAT good. I kindly shared one last Thursday with a coworker who also found them quite delicious. She, too, was impressed with the vegan nature of the cookie. Seriously, Sarah, how did you do it? Well done, ma’am. Well done.


I’ve also been scarfing down this crazy-good cinnamon honey-roasted peanut butter. It seems that nut butter is one of Sarah’s specialties. I’m hoping for a tutorial and the good word that homemade nut butter is not hard to make because this spread is rockin’ my world. Tuesday also happened to be Shrove Tuesday where folks eat pancakes as part of the Fat Tuesday celebrations. Boyfriend and I made pancakes to go with our “breakfast for dinner” on Tuesday, and don’tcha know? Cinnamon honey-roasted peanut butter goes reeeaaallly well on pancakes. Really well. So well that I had it for breakfast the rest of the week. It’s light, cinnamony, creamy, but not without a wee bit of texture. So delightful. Plus, Sarah clearly pays attention to the details with the color coordination of the jar to her blog, her stationary for her note, and her business card. Yep! Girlfriend has a card. I want one for my blog now, too. I do so love good attention to detail on cute little things.

Pancakes with Peanut Butter = GOOD!

All Gone....almost!

I haven’t used the rest of it yet, but I am looking forward to ways to use everything Sarah sent me. That salsa is going to be so good on some fish tacos on next week’s menu, along with just some chips one afternoon for a snack. Honestly, I’m not sure what Biscoff spread is, and checking out the ingredient list has only confirmed for me that it is some kind of spiced nut butter. A Google search result tells me that it’s a peanut-butter-esque spread made from cookies similar to gingersnaps. This makes me excited to try it because I love gingersnaps! I did tell Sarah I was an adventurous eater, as long as it wasn’t connected to mushrooms. I love that these are in little individual packages as well. That’s lovely for taking it in my lunch/breakfast to work. Spices and tea are always good choices for my pantry, so kudos there, friend. I’ll be sure to update you all along the way as the spices, salsa, and Biscoff spread get used. Check back for updates!

How cute is this??

It has been so fun getting to know Sarah through email and over Twitter. I am thankful that she and I were matched for my inaugural foodie pen pal experience. I think it is great that Lindsay thought of this program several months ago, and is willing to coordinate it every month. Thanks, Lindsay! If you are a foodie, blogger or not, and you want to participate, check out this page on Lindsay’s blog that has all the details. It’s low risk and high reward, so I really encourage you to give it a try. Here is a bit of housekeeping from Lindsay if you are interested in participating.

If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to Lindsay at and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!

You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!

***PLEASE NOTE: if you send an email, you WILL GET A RESPONSE within 48 hours. If you don”t….please re-send your email or contact Lindsay via Twitter (@LeanGrnBeanBlog). Last month we had a few emails get lost as spam so we’re trying to avoid that!
I’ll be sitting March out due to conference travel smack dab in the middle of the shopping/shipping period (boo!), but I’ll be back for April. I’ve been eyeballing all sorts of neat treats to send someone in April though, so get ready, my next pen pal – it’s gonna be great! Stay tuned!

The Colorado spice blend is SPICY!! I was quite liberal with it on our fish tonight, and it had quite the kick! Thankfully the mango and key lime salsa is not so spicy, so it was a good pairing to bring down the heat. Quite delicious, overall! I’m really looking forward to using the spice on some beef as I think it might stand up a bit differently. I do like spicy foods, though, so this was a great treat in my package!

Foodie Penpals

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 %