Rachel Schardt
                                  !THE REVEAL!

Today I get to share my first foodie pen-pal box from Lean Green Bean. I was sooo happy cos my foodie pen-pal so got me! Which honestly it's kinda nerve wracking trying to do the following....

1) Get something you think they will like. Granted even through the email interaction you have with them...it's still hard.
2) Your limited to 15$ on the whole thing. I had a hard time with that part...I mean come on we are foodies after all and you can do only 15$! But bonus you get to do homemade goodies.
3) Making the package. All of us foodies are artistic and well combine that with food and yeah...mind blank!
4) Hoping that they like your package as much as them hoping that you like yours.

So this how mine went...I got Mrs. Krystal and yes she has a food blog so check her out here! She must of know my fond...if not addictive love of Biscoff. I never mentioned it...never said a word but there in my box of love and food it was. I already declared war in my house if anyone dares to look, open, taste or even think about doing the a fore mentioned actions someone will get hurt!

Then the cookies...so big, so yummy....droll as sadly look to my left as I type this knowing that it's the lone survivor in the bag she sent me. I was nice I did share with hubby and my lil padawan. As have it she nailed the chocoholic's sweet tooth craving straight on. I love the combination of sweet and salty and padawan of course had to ask for the recipe. I did let Krystal  know that they were kid tested and approved! So of course she was so kind to email me the recipe....which is for now going to be a new holiday classic or anytime classic in my house.

Then there was the bbq sauce...I have seen this brand actually many times. I wasn't aware that it came from Texas. Trust me Texans know their BBQ! I can't wait to try it some time soon...I am being nice and I will share it with hubby since he's the grill master of the house!

Then the chocolate bar...I"m not a fan of chocolate as you all are aware but I loved it. It's from a local chocolate company in...yup you guessed it TEXAS! It was awesome. It had the crispy texture like the nestle crunch...but not over powering like that brand. The chocolate was indeed milk chocolate. The best part it melts so nicely in your mouth and no your not chasing it with milk or in Krystal's and my case coffee. It was super sweet!

Then the apple butter...Now I haven't tried it but it's another my must have's in the pantry. I have 6 pint jars full of it that I personally made. But this one is a little different; it's chunky. I never heard nor tasted chunky apple butter and honestly can't wait to try it! I just gotta hide it in the fridge so the boys in my house don't devour it.

And of course paper liners for cuppy cakes or muffins which no baker or self respecting mom would/should be without. I love the bright happy colors and of course the padawan asks me if we can make cuppy cakes. So that will be another weekend adventure in the kitchen for us.

I can't thank her enough! Thinking about joining the foodie fun...well check it out here!


Here’s some details about FPP in case you want to join in for March:
-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.
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
-Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for March, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!

Rachel Schardt

You've seen them, I've seen them...heck they even been on TV finishing salts. We wonder how to make them, what are they good for and where are the dang on recipes so I can make them myself.

Good questions, and here it is. "The concept of finishing salt is straightforward: fling a carefully chosen, artisan made salt across the surface of your food, and bite. As you eat, food and salt combine—first a flash of salt... then the food... a flicker of salt and now fuller food flavors, and then a faint spark of salt catches at the richest and most complex flavors of the food. With finishing salt, the relationship of salt and food evolves with every bite. The rewards are increased intensity of flavor, greater flavor complexity, exciting new textures and even aromas, and a heightened awareness of the very process of tasting food. Finishing salts promise the opportunity for a new, more intimate relationship with food." The Meadow

I think the Meadow summed it up nicely the perfect paring of food with a little bit of flavored salt to enhance the food. There are some finishing salts that are used in baking. And yes there is the super smokey salty meaty combination of bacon salt. You heard me right BACON Salt! 

I can't take credit for any of these recipes but what I can say is for the bacon salt recipe listen to the lady a little goes a long wayyyyy. I am providing links to these lovely artisans of culinary magic. Thank them, thank them alot, because now you too can make finishing salts for over half the cost of buying them.

Flavor Salts 

Gourmet Salts



Rachel Schardt

I love my mail today so excited that my foodie pen-pal package is here. I felt like singing...I did in my head the song from Oklahoma the Wells Fargo Wagon is coming. It was like an early birthday present just for me.

The next sign up is underway...you can sign up here. I can't share or tell what I got...shhh but I bet it's super yummy :) I will reveal what I got on February 28th. So keep your eye's peeled!

The great thing is that you can make homemade goodies for pen-pal, you don't have to have a food blog or heck even a blog. I can't wait, it's killing me cos the box is staring at me and I feel like the cookie monster from sesame street I need it NOW...but I can't.

In honor of my Foodie Pen-pal in TX...I will post a yummy recipes from TX! Palacios, TX is known as the shrimp capital of the great state of Texas and with that I'm ready...I love shrimp!

                                                                  Shrimp fajitas

Serves 4-6
1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pure chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lime, juice of
8 -12 flour tortillas or 8 -12 soft corn tortillas, warmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 green onions, cut into thirds
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/3 inch strips
sour cream
chopped fresh cilantro
minced red onion

Add shrimp, salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, lime juice to a large bowl or heavy duty zip-top plastic bag.
Toss until spices are distributed and shrimp is well coated.
Let marinate for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet (cast-iron is best).
Add the green onions and peppers; cook and stir occasionally 2 minutes or until slightly softened.
Add the shrimp and marinade; cook and stir constantly about 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
Spoon shrimp and vegetables into warmed tortillas; garnish with sour cream, cilantro and onion if desired.
Fold up and eat.

I hope you all enjoy! Till the reveal...then on to next month's foodie pen-pal!

Rachel Schardt

I have been wanting to do this project for awhile and I finally got in. So here's how it works. It's just like a regular pen-pal program but with some twists to it.

You can make/buy foodie items for your pen-pal cost can't exceed 15$. Foodie allergies not a problem because that is covered too....When you get the email from the nice lady running it you are given your pen-pal. You have 72 Hours to contact your pen-pal and swap information...including food allergies, aversions (me very spicy food). You talk about things you do like, like me and coffee, cooking, baking, canning, crabs you know REAL FOOD!

Well then you have till the 15th to mail said box out...Yeah yeah I know i'm a little behind but my pen-pal is like just getting them finishing touches done to make the package just right! I did a mixture (hope she ain't reading this) of homemade and store bought goodies....ok maybe she can read this cos I ain't saying what I made (yet). 

You also have to have something written in the package. A note, recipe cards (I did that for what I made, just encase she wanted to make more). I also plan on writing a letter too.  I love projects like this...I've done it for scrap-booking and more. The ideas on pen-pals is limitless, but as foodie this is so far my most exciting thing to do. I have no idea what my pen-pal is sending me...so it's like Christmas for me :)

If you want more information on this lovely project you can check out the blog The Lean Green Bean Foodie Pen-pals so hurry over get your name on the list for next month and share the food!

Rachel Schardt

An orange by any other name is still an orange right? Wrong! There are many different species of orange and they range from Bitter to sweet. I'm learning the hard way about this and trust me the hard way!

So see what had happened was there is a free growing orange tree near my son's bust stop, and I was like oh wow oranges, what yummy sweets can I make this new found treasure...then my son was wanting to eat one. Sure ok nature's candy is good thing...except this was one bitter orange. I mean bitter like lemon's are tart bitter.

So google fu was used to find out what kind of orange I had found...and ta da it's the Seville orange. The most bitter orange out of the family.  Seville oranges are most commonly used for orange marmalade. Use the zest and juice in flavored sugars or salts, syrups, cocktails, vinaigrette or marinades. Pair with fennel, bitter greens, chicories, olives, other citrus, fresh herbs, aged cheeses, seafood, rice, and Spanish spices. Seville oranges will keep, refrigerated, for two weeks (SpecialProduce.com)

Now with keeping this in mind I made some yummy super moist orange bread that lasted only 3 days and used some of the juice to make the glaze with cream cheese. These little gems are great for baking because the bitterness associated with them seems to dampen that bitterness so you are left with that nice orange flavor.

Here are some recipes to try encase you happen to find these little gems just growing out there and not in someone's yard unless they wanna share em!

Lavender Jelly with Orange-pith Pectin
Easy Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville Orange and Vanilla Bean Marmalade

Orange Bread (the one I made) 

As for the glaze I made for the orange bread I mixed 1.5 cup of powder sugar to 4 oz. cream cheese and 2 Tbsp of orange juice. If it's to thick add more orange juice...just remember the juice is bitter. If to thin add more powder sugar to desired thickness. A little of this goes a long way!