Who loves getting packages? Everybody! Right?!
You know what are the best packages? Packages with FOOD in them! Thus the brilliance of Foodie Pen Pals.
A pen pal primer: the mastermind of this venture is Lindsay. She matches up food bloggers (or even just food blog readers who also want to participate) with someone to send a package to and someone to receive a package from. Here are the deets borrowed from her blog!
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact each other and get mailing addresses 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.
I was paired with another Lindsay, a denizen of Normal, Illinois. She hooked me up with, as she put it, “a little slice of the Midwest”!
The goods, all arrayed on my dining room floor (where I RIPPED THE PACKAGE OPEN. Guys, getting packages is so exciting).
For reasons best understood by me, I photographed the cookie BOX rather than the cookies themselves up close.
Suffice it to say, by the time I realized that, it was too late. Cookies were GONE.
Aaaaaaaagh you know those wonderful rich dense sugary bakery cookies? That are then sent over the edge by having beautiful and delicious icing atop? Yeah, that was these Jack O’ Lanterns. SO AMAZING. I sincerely hope to visit this bakery when I head to Illinois for Thanksgiving.
Next, the cutest chocolates I have ever seen:
As if the adorable Halloween-themed devil, mummy, spider, and cauldron of witches’ brew weren’t great enough just to look at, they topped SUBLIME chocolate. Three milks and a dark. Wonderful :D I had fun sharing these—the devil was the first to get claimed!
Sweet little honey bear of local honey (this is weird of me, but I am super into local honey. Since it’s so good for allergies, and I have such sucky pollen allergies. I’m hoping that if I just eat local honey from all over the United States, I can travel ANYWHERE without needing Benadryl).
With a recipe to go along! I love getting salads with honey mustard dressing when I go out to eat but somehow never combine the two things when cooking at home. Now I have a recipe to help me out!
So finally, let’s talk about those beer nuts.
Being such a clueless non-Midwesterner, I thought initially that they were literally beer-flavored nuts. Which I would’ve been totally down with. I don’t like beer but I do like beer bread, chocolate stout cupcakes, etc. Why not nuts?
But rather, they are nuts one can eat while drinking beer (though based on their deliciousness and my utter disregard for preserving my girlish figure after having imbibed in alcohol, I wouldn’t recommend it per se). A little sweet, a little salty, oily, and utterly addictive.
Okay so… remember the nut butter I raved about while at sea?
BEER NUT BUTTER!
I saw that the beer nuts were
1. Already roasted
2. Already infused with sweet and savory flavors so integral to peanut butter
And I thought, it is finally time for me to make some homemade nut butter!
A big thank you to Sarah from The Smart Kitchen for posting with such frequently about making homemade nut butter. It made me much less intimidated.
Because I wanted to save some of the beer nuts for regular beer nut eating, I decided to do a mixed nut and seed butter, with all kinds of delicious things contributing.
To that end, the plurality of nuts in the nut butter were the beer nuts. But I also added smaller amounts of roasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, and, taking a cue from Trader Joe’s, sunflower seeds.
Obviously, this made my kitchen smell awesome.
I actually wonder if putting the roasted nuts in the food processor while still slightly warm (though not hot) helped speed up and ease the butterifying process, because it took a few minutes but the blade seemed willing enough to make it happen (there was no ominous shaking or smoking from my food processor).
Anyway, it came together beautifully, a wonderfully gritty texture reminiscent of Trader Joe’s plain peanut butter.
How it’s Did:
1 cup beer nuts
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Roast walnuts, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Start with the walnuts, pecans, and almonds- they take around five minutes, whereas the sunflower seeds only take about two. I did this in my countertop toaster oven, at about 350 degrees.
Throw everyone in a food processor. Whirr away to desired consistency!
This nut butter was crazy tasty and utterly addictive. Slightly sweet, slightly salty, with a heavenly well rounded flavor of smoky depth. No one nut dominated (though I have the beer nuts to thank for a lot of the flavor, I’m sure); it was just totally synergistic nut butter delight.
Thank you so much, Lindsay!