BF&F – Best Friends and Foodies

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November Foodie Penpals – Bumpkin

Last month Townie sent me a link for this really cool blogger who has set up a pen pal program for foodies.  I signed up thinking it would be interesting to see what came.  Townie waited for me to be the guinea pig 🙂 And to be honest I was pleasantly surprised, having had no expectations.  The idea is you get paired with someone to send food to, $15 limit, and someone different who will send food to you.  I sent a box of all locally made treats to Rebecca at Hankering 4 Hummus so you can pop over there to see what she had to say about what I sent.  But, more importantly I received a totally awesome box of yummy goodies from Ritsa at Runner Ritsa.

Ritsa sent me a questionnaire about foods I liked and disliked and she was able to send me a box of goodies that included breakfast, lunch, snacks and treats all of which I have NEVER seen in my small town (of course if I ventured into the likes of the organic market or the REI I might have seen some of it!)  My favorite was by far the Sea Salt flavored Rice Works crisps.  She included a nice note and a recipe for, Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies, cookies I can’t wait to try!  I will be sure to let you know when I do so Ritsa gets full credit 🙂 

I have also been totally lacking in sending PROPER thanks to Ritsa as the package arrived while we were on vacation.  So, when I got back, on Tuesday, and my mail was back in service I got the package and have been whipping through it for the last few days.  Hubby is out of town and 3 year old has been a pill so I am lacking motivation these days.  Therefore, I did not take photos but I have added links to the websites for the products I received:

  • Justin’s Maple Almond Butter – Ritsa suggested trying it on a banana and that is exactly what I had for dessert last night.  YUM!
  • Moo Organic Chocolate with Granola – her comments were pretty cute, “it’s organic so it must be good for you”!  Mind you, I don’t know that I need the words “organic” on a label to convince me that chocolate is life saving (because we ALL KNOW it IS!!), but it was pretty yummy all the same! 🙂
  • Oat Revolution: Apples and Cinnamon – I love oatmeal for breakfast, if I am going to do breakfast at all.  I have always been partial to brown sugar but this was really yummy and one packet was filling.  The addition of flax was something new and I think that might have been the ticket.
  • Annie Chun’s Noodle Bowl: Pad Thai – Ritsa really did take my entire questionnaire into consideration when shopping for food.  I mentioned loving THai food and she made it happen.  I have never had a ready-to-eat quick meal of Thai food, but this was actually quite tasty!
  • Celestial Seasonings: Gingerbread Spice Tea – I told her I loved iced tea so she went “festive” on me.  This is the one product I haven’t yet tried.  My kids are tea drinking junkies so I hid the box fearing it would disappear and I totally forgot to make myself a cup!
  • Rickland Orchards Greek Yogurt Bar: Apple and Honey – this was really chewy, unlike some granola bars.  My 3yr old basically stole it from me shortly after opening and it quickly disappeared.  2 thumbs up.
  • And the Riceworks crisps linked above.


If you get the chance, I highly suggest you sign up for Foodie pen pals.  It was fun and who doesn’t just LOVE trying new foods!!  It was started by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.  It’s a few easy steps to get started:

-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 to get involved!


Oatmeal Cookies with Choc Covered Craisins – Bumpkin

I found these totally yummy little buggers last week, on sale!  I bought several packages.  They were begging to be baked into something.  I thought about adding them to my pumpkin bread (see my previous baking post) but opted for Rolos and pecans instead. 

Fall is a good time for oatmeal cookies.  For some reason they “call out” to me during cooler weather and not so much in the summer.  It might be the spiciness of them as I tend to use pumpkin pie spice rather than just cinnamon.  Although, cinnamon alone screams WINTER to me 🙂  I know, I know…I am a freakazoid!  But, you’ll get used to it.

Oatmeal Cookies with Choc Covered Craisins
adapted from Quaker Oats (the best oatmeal cookie recipe and can be found on the inside lid of the tub!)


  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1  1/2 cup Choc Covered Craisins

Let’s Make It!

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt; mix well. Add oats and Craisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Makes up to 4 dozen, as long as you don’t make them monsters like me!  🙂



Italian Sausage and Ravioli Soup – Bumpkin

I took out pork the other day because I was in the mood for pork.  When I opened the package to cook it, it smelled to high heaven!  I didn’t know pork could smell so nasty.  Needless to say, we did not eat THAT pork.  But, Townie had already posted pork for the day so I remember I had made this soup about a week ago and happened to take a photo so I would have some stuff in the “archive”.  The sausage is made from pork, so it fit the bill!

Our grocery store brand of Italian chub sausage is really good, so I always have some in my freezer.  I stock up when it goes on sale to throw into sauce and what not when we need a quick protein.  However, when I took it out this last time I was NOT in the mood for pasta and sauce.  The weather has turned so I was thinking soup.  I had some spinach that needed to be used, a pint of homemade spaghetti sauce and some frozen raviolis.  Out came THIS invention, that the family loved and WILL be made again.

I served with a crisp green salad and some crusty sour dough.  YUMMY!!

Italian Sausage and Ravioli Soup


1 lb italian sausage
1 pint spaghetti sauce
1+ qrts chicken stock
frozen ravioli (I had a small bag, so maybe 25)
2 c spinach
spices to taste
Parmesan cheese, garnish

Let’s Make It!

In a pan cook sausage until done. 

In a large pot, bring spaghetti sauce and enough stock to made consistency you desire, to a boil.  Add ravioli and cook until done.  Add sausage, spinach and spices.

Serve hot, topped with parmesan cheese.  YUMMY!

Baking Tuesday – TWOfer Pumpkin

I have been AWFUL at blogging lately.  I have so much on my plate that I just feel like ignoring everything sometimes.  But, shame on me.  You all want to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!  So, for Baking Tuesday today, I am gonna give you a TWOfer…two pumpkin recipes in ONE post.  Lucky dogs!!!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Choc Chip Cookies (DIVINE!!!)

adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Let’s Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, old fashioned oats, quick oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until well blended.
  • Blend in the dry mixture until combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and drop by the spoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes until cookies are lightly brown at the edges and set in the middle. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes then remove and place on cooling racks to cool.
  • Makes 4 dozen cookies.


Rolo Pecan Pumpkin Bread

adapted from  Taste of Home


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 cups canola oil
  • 20 Rolos candies, halved
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Let’s Make It!

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in candy and nuts.
  • Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Cheap Korean Beef – Bumpkin

I know I owe you baking from last week.  It is also baking Tuesday today so, technically I should be posting something sweet and yummy.  Unfortunately, I have baked twice this week and both have been disastrous!  I refuse to post either.  Baking Tuesday will be later this week as I make another attempt at something edible!

So, today I am posting this super easy, super yummy, “cheap” Korean Beef!  I found the recipe on Pinterest (naturally!) and the entire family LOVED, <3, LOVED  it!  Next time I have to double the recipe!

I added green beans so, we would have a veggie with the meal, served over rice with some kim chees on the side.  YUM!

Cheap Korean Beef
adapted from lizzy writes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used 1/4c.)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (see note)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced (Original recipe says “don’t skip this!” although I added mine in a little earlier, during the cooking phase)
2 cups green beans

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions.

Note from Elizabeth Bryant: here’s a trick I learned from Rachael Ray about fresh ginger. I love using fresh ginger in recipes but I never seem to have it on hand since it goes rotten in the refrigerator before I can use it. So, the next time you’re at the store grab a large piece of ginger. Peel the entire thing and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces. Put it into a storage bag and keep it in the refrigerator. When you need a few teaspoons or so, all you have to do it pull out one of the small pieces and grate the alloted amount with your Microplane or a zester. It grates really well frozen! Ta da!

Cuban Pork 2 Ways – Bumpkin

I had a pork shoulder roast, a HUGE pork shoulder roast.  So, I knew there would be leftovers.  When I was deciding what to do with it, I went ahead and just decided to make 2 dinners with it and went with Cuban. 

Roast Cuban Pork
adapted from elly says opa!

1 (2-3) lb. pork roast
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 dried California chilis
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup chicken broth

I had every intention of doing this in the crock pot, it’s the perfect recipe for it.  However, the HUGE aspect of the roast meant it didn’t FIT in my crock pot.  So, I roasted it in the oven on 300-degrees, covered, for A LOT of hours…until falling apart and deliciousness set in!

You SHOULD rub all the ingredients all over the meat, wrap in plastic and let it marinate overnight, but I didn’t.  It cooks long enough in some pretty hefty flavors that it was still flavorful.  Really, I find with a nice bone-in pork roast that sometimes even with just a bit of salt and pepper, it is still delicious.  Outside of a great rib-eye, and a perfectly marinated flank steak… I love no other meat as much as I LOVE pork!


The first night I did the pork as tacos.  The kids did burrito style with the beans and everything in a tortilla.  They aren’t fans of corn tortillas so they used flour, added a bunch of fixins and ate seconds. Hubby and I went for the taco route, simple and yummy. I like corn tortillas and when I don’t have time to get down to the Mexican market for homemade, I like these hand-made style corn tortillas for soft tacos. The meat is versatile enough you can do just about anything with it (to be honest even after 2 dinners there were still leftovers so I made a pan of green chile enchiladas with it and took that over to a friend who needed some “care”).  I’m tellin ya….HUGE pork roast!

LIke the original recipe I made a jicama slaw.  I just diced half a jicama, 1 small red bellpepper, about 1/2c. fresh cilantro.  Then I used fresh key lime juice, Tapatio sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  It added a nice flavor and cruch to the tacos.  I served dinner with black beans and rice (mixed together because that is how we Costa Ricans eat our frijoles negros, gallo pinto style!)


The second night I did El Cubanos.  Basically, a cuban grilled cheese.  They are REALLY yummy!  They are supposed to be on a hoagie roll type bread, but I used sourdough instead.  They get pressed like a panini.  Super easy, and a crowd pleaser:
shredded cuban pork
sliced ham
sliced pickles
swiss cheese
buttered bread

Have some fun…use your leftovers!

Baking Tuesday – Pecan Pie Cookies

Look at me…TWO posts in ONE day!!  A new record has been set, friends!!!  Really, this is my devoted attempt to get back on track!  Since I baked, I am not finding any excuse to NOT post today, ON TUESDAY!!  🙂

I found this recipe, once again, on Pinterest.  Be warned, I did my entire menu for the week from Pinterest recipes I wanted to try so, you are going to get your fair helping of it too!  These were 1. easy, 2. I always have every ingredient in the house and 3. if you love pecan pie, you are going to love these!

Make them now!!

Pecan Pie Cookies
adapted from Yum Sugar 

For Cookies:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

For Filling:
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl.
  3. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Shape dough into 1-1/4-inch balls.
  5. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.
  7. Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded tsp. filling.
  8. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.