Archive for July, 2010

Friday afternoon – time for another Behind the Blog!

I hope your Friday is going well and that your weekend is kicking off in a fun way. I’ve got family coming to visit tonight and couldn’t be happier – it should be a great weekend, full of laughter and lots of good food 🙂

Sit back and let’s welcome Courtney!


1. What’s your name and blog address?

My name is Courtney and my blog is Pancakes & Postcards


2. How long have you been blogging?

From September 2008 until this spring, I was blogging sporadically
about my Peace Corps experience. But for a while I was dreaming of
starting a new food/travel/Africa blog and I finally did in March of
2010, after about six months of reading healthy living blogs 🙂


3. What do you love / hate about blogging?

I love feeling a connection with the world around me! Living in
Mozambique can get lonely, and reading blogs makes me feel more
connected to the "normal" world that I left. Every time someone leaves
a comment it makes me really happy! Blogging feels like a reminder
that I am not alone.
What I hate–well, here it is that my technical abilities prevent me
from being a "real" blogger. I don’t have electricity all of the time,
much less internet! I don’t have the space or the internet
capabilities to download new programs to use, and it can take four
hours to upload pictures for a post. Which normally doesn’t work,
since not only is that an amazing waste of time, but also because my
battery life is down to about an hour and a half! (It was five when I
got here.) So my capacity to blog is limited, but I think that is
better for now—I cannot get really caught up in the “blog world” and
miss out on my experience here.


4. What’s your favorite color?

Blue! It used to be red, but then I went to college at UCLA and I
pretty much bleed blue and gold now. Plus, it’s calming!

5. Favorite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption. I just saw Pirate Radio recently, which was great.

6. Favorite book?
The Poisonwood Bible. I read it here (while living in Africa–it is
set in the Belgian Congo) and it is the most amazing book I have ever
read. I also really love Eat, Pray, Love, probably more because I want
someone to pay ME to go travel around the world for a year to eat good
food and "find myself"! 🙂

7. Favorite food?
Raw chocolate chip cookie dough. And ice cream. And frosting straight
from the jar. My sweet tooth is uncontrollable. My favorite real food
is sushi–spicy tuna rolls all the way! And of course, pancakes. Love

8. Chocolate or vanilla?
DEFINITELY vanilla. But I love a chocolate brownie! But only with
vanilla ice cream… so…


9. Favorite tv show NOW and when you were growing up?

As a kid, I never watched any of those TGIF shows that were SO
popular… I loved Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon! I dreamed of being
on Legends of the Hidden Temple or Global GUTS… anyone with me…


10.   Do you like playing sports? Watching sports?

BOTH! As a kid I did soccer for a long time, basketball and track for
a little, competed in equestrian events for several years, and
eventually ended up on the dance team (I swear it is a sport). Now, I
love playing any sport when the opportunity arises and love watching
college basketball (March Madness is the best couple of weeks of the
year!) and football. Still consider myself a dancer, a runner, and a
rock climber.


11.   Are you a coffee or tea person? Or neither?

Both! Hot chocolate is my favorite, but I am trying to get into
drinking plain tea here (I LOVE hot beverages when it’s cold and can
go through a day’s worth of calories at Starbucks easy). I am drinking
plain tea a lot more now, but I still don’t really LIKE it. The
concept of tainted hot water still needs to grow on me. Where’s the
white chocolate peppermint mocha??


12.   Do you have tattoos or piercings?

Six piercings—two on the bottom of each ear, one cartilage and then my
nose has been pierced for about six years. Want a tattoo, but am not
passionate enough about any design yet to have it permanently inked
onto my body.


13.   Do you have any special talents?

Yes. I have an uncanny ability to know more or less what time it is
after not seeing a watch or a clock all day. And I can beat almost
every song on Expert on Rock Band (I’m a drummer. Super legit).


14.   If you could go anywhere in the world TOMORROW, where would you go?

Honestly? I have been in Mozambique for over 20 months now, so if I
could take a sporadic trip tomorrow, I would go home to California to
hug my parents and pet the dogs and cat! I would sit on the couch with
my family and eat pigs in a blanket and microwave popcorn, watch
movies, and fall asleep with the cat on my lap. Then I would fly back
to Mozambique and finish my Peace Corps service. 🙂 The rest of the
world can wait!


15.   Last thing you ate?

A soggy French fry pilfered from a colleague’s lunch. Ew. Regrettable.


16.   When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A fighter pilot. No joke. Some girls played with dolls, I had model
airplanes and rockets and played computer air simulation games every
day with my daddy. I even sent Chuck Yeager (a really famous combat
pilot) a valentine when I was 5 years old. I included conversation
hearts that said "my guy" in the envelope, too. He sent me back an
8"x10" signed photo of him and his fighter jet that said "To
Courtney–good luck!" I still have it. Dork…


17.   What was your favorite subject in school?

Math at first–up until high school, I was obsessed with it. Then
Calculus was just WAY over my head… then I fell in love with the
social sciences and studied International Development and Political


18.   What games did you play when you were younger?

Everything. Battleship, Connect Four, Sorry!, all of those. But I was
so competitive that I would cry or be angry for about a week if I ever
lost, so I actually stopped playing games until I got mature enough to
get through them… I was a weird kid.

19.   Favorite restaurant?
I honestly don’t have one. I am a foodie, but I am also really easy to
please. I love a dinner at Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory as much as
one at somewhere fancier. There’s this place called Ami Sushi in
Westwood Village right by UCLA (where I went to school) that has
barely decent food and the worst customer service in the world, but
their “crunch roll” is probably my favorite thing on the planet.

20.   Favorite store?
Whole Foods! And REI–I was a big rock climber in college and would
always go there for new gear. Now, my favorite place to buy things is
from the ladies who sit along the street, in the shade of the mango
trees, and sell bananas.

21.   Favorite animal?
Horses, I grew up on them. But I also love cats and dogs, and here in
Africa, Guinea hens are making a run for the top. They are just so
cute… in a weird way…


22.   Favorite thing to cook/make?

PANCAKES! Because they are easy and let’s face it, even if they don’t
come out THAT great, they are still pancakes and therefore pretty
good. That’s what I like in my baking choices!


23.   Most embarrassing guilty pleasure?

Bad pop and rap music. I “only listen to it while I am working out…”
and hanging out… and singing loudly along to it when I am in my car
and other people can hear me…


24.   Do you have any nicknames?

NO ONE in Africa can pronounce my name (two consonants in a row and
you’re pushing it, but THREE?!?!) so instead of Courtney I have been
called “Coni” and “Mana Cornía.” For better or worse, these names have


25.   List one thing the “blog world” doesn’t know about you but should!

I have a gmail folder with about 300 recipes in it that I save from
other bloggers because I can´t get the ingredients or don’t have the
necessary equipment here to make them. I call this my “back in
civilization” folder and it guarantees that I will be cooking for
approximately nine months, ten hours a day, once I return to America.
Thanks for reading! Hope you check out Pancakes & Postcards sometime,
and I would love to see your blogs!


Thanks Courtney!

Want to be featured on Behind the Blog? Send your answers to these questions to branappetit [at] gmail.

And…just for kicks (and because I’ve had requests lately), here’s some pictures of Maggie.




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Strawberry Joy

Oatmeal or eggs.

Eggs or oatmeal.

I was already thinking about breakfast last night, and I was having a hard time deciding before I even went to bed. Since I didn’t know what I would want this morning, I went ahead and prepped some overnight oats and had an egg dish made up in my head that would be easy to throw together.


It’s a good thing I mixed up my oats last night, because I was way too hot this morning to even think about a hot breakfast.

Plus, I think this may be one of my best bowls of overnight oats yet!



  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk!!!
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • cinnamon
  • pinch of salt


  • 1/2 cup homemade greek yogurt
  • 1/2 – 1 cup strawberries
  • sprinkle of coconut butter


I was all out of regular (plain) almond milk and skim, so I decided to try this unsweetened almond milk in the mixture. Great idea – I loved the slight cocoa flavor it gave my oats!

Tasted a little like an almond joy with strawberries 🙂


My family gets here tonight!!! Woohoo!!!


What are you looking forward to this weekend?


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I know.

You’re going to hate me for posting this picture without the recipe, but I’m going to do it anyway.


Because that (times 2) was my afternoon snack today. I have no words. Okay, maybe two words: sugar coma.

But there will be a recipe soon!

Today was busy – I did all the laundry (3 loads worth), cleaned the house, finished up the project above, and put in my 8 hours of work. I’m worn out!

Nick and I actually had plans to go out tonight, but some things fell through so we just ate leftovers.


I heated up the pasta from last night and Nick and I split what was left.


Easy + delicious!

Now I just have to figure out what we can have for lunch tomorrow…

I’m catching up on Glee and then a new Burn Notice – night!


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Breakfast, Round 2

So…last night, I didn’t want to make a frittata for dinner so I wouldn’t end up having eggs for lunch and dinner today.

Too bad I ended up having eggs for breakfast and lunch anyway! I guess it is a good thing I’m not also having eggs for dinner, but, honestly, I love eggs so much that I wouldn’t mind.

I was originally planning on oatmeal for breakfast this morning, but as soon as that bacon hit the pan, my plans changed.

And I just couldn’t get this lunch out of my head.


Yes, eggs + beans + grains + veggies is now one of my favorite meals. I’d never even made a dish like this until a few months ago, and now it’s all I want for lunch on the days I work from home!

It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and use up random leftovers, too. I was able to use 2 more zucchini and squash in this dish!


Today’s layers:

  • mix of leftover Spanish brown rice (tomatoes, peppers, corn) and last of the barley, corn, tomato, and bean salad plus sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with chile powder and garlic
  • fat free refried beans
  • 2 over easy eggs
  • avocado
  • salsa


A complete meal in one bowl: whole grains, vegetables, protein, healthy fat and a ton of flavor.

Who says eating healthy and balanced has to be tough or bland, for that matter?


What’s your favorite and most flavorful healthy / balanced meal, the one you would make for someone else just to PROVE that eating healthy isn’t boring?

I’d say homemade Mexican meals would be one of my top choices. It’s SO easy to make healthy Mexican meals at home and have a TON more flavor than the greasy dishes you get at restaurants.


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Best Bacon

Zumba is still kicking me!

Sitting is fine. Standing is fine.

Going from standing –> sitting or sitting –> standing…and my butt feels like it’s going to fall off my body.

Since I was crawling out of bed like I was 87 years old instead of 27, we decided to put off our morning run today. We’ll be able to go this weekend, and by then, I hope to actually be able to move my legs in a running motion.

Breakfast today included the best bacon ever.


This bacon goes from a farm in Pennsylvania –> the Amish market in Harrisonburg –> my happy stomach.


I’m not sure what’s different about their curing process, but it’s delicious. It’s thick cut and a bit saltier than any other bacon we get, and perfect.

Bacon, eggs, local fruit + Kona coffee, freshly made in the syphon.

I just took Maggie out for a bathroom break, and now she’s going crazy. Guess that means it’s time for work!

I’ve got a busy day ahead – my mom, sisters and brother in law are coming to visit this weekend, so I’ve got a lot on the agenda today (including working my 8 hours).


What’s your favorite meal / dish to make for friends and family? I’m trying to plan a grocery trip, but can’t decide what to put on the menu for this weekend!


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This dinner was summer on a plate.


When I got home from work today, I had no idea what I wanted to make for dinner.

The original menu plan was a zucchini, artichoke and pasta frittata. But…I thought I may be having eggs for lunch tomorrow and I didn’t want eggs for dinner and lunch, so that idea went out the window.

While I was deciding what to make, I whipped up 2 desserts! I don’t know what’s up with me lately – I just want to be in the kitchen, creating. Recipes soon 🙂 One is a family recipe of sorts that is very close to my heart and another is my spin on a recipe I found online, but those won’t be finished until tomorrow anyways.

Back to dinner!


I decided to stick with zucchini and yellow squash in my meal – I have way too many in the house right now from our CSA.

For the pasta, I sauteed 2 diced artichoke and garlic chicken sausages until browned, took those out of the pan, and added 1 diced zucchini and 1 yellow squash to brown. After those were browned (but not soggy), I added in about 1 cup of fresh corn kernals (cut right off the cob) and let the veggies cook for 2-3 minutes.

I added the chicken sausage back to the veggies along with some crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, and the last of a salad dressing I made the other night which had olive oil, dijon, whole grain mustard, vinegar, salt, and oregano.

After the veggie and chicken mixture cooked for a minute, I tossed in 2 cups or so of whole wheat spaghetti with a little pasta water and some fresh basil and parsley from our garden.


Best side dish for pasta?

Carbs with carbs. Specifically bread.

And not just any bread. This is homemade sourdough bread, from Biscuit Bob himself that he made this weekend.

I made a quick bruschetta topping with tomato, basil, salt, and olive oil.


And we had just a little of the tomato mixture left, so I added it to my pasta.

Seriously – summer on a plate!

And SO much of it was fresh + local:

  • tomato – gift from our neighbors
  • zucchini and yellow squash – from CSA
  • corn – farmer’s market
  • basil/parsley – our garden
  • bread – made a few days ago by my father in law

I’m a little sad that dinner is over – it was that good.

So many people think of pasta as always being this heavy dish, but light summery pastas are the total opposite of that. Yes, I’m full and satisfied, but I don’t feel completely weighed down or stuffed to the brim. Keeping the flavors light, bright, and flavorful keeps it from becoming too heavy. Plus, all the voluminous summer vegetables in the pasta help control my portions – the more veggies in the dish, the less actual pasta I need on my plate.

Win win.

Off to catch up on Top Chef and get into my pjs – it’s been a very long day.


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The Hunger

After all that hard work in Zumba last night, I woke up starving! Oatmeal was the first thing I thought about 🙂


I think most of my breakfast choices are filling, but there’s just something about a big bowl of oatmeal, fruit, and nut butter. It isn’t too heavy, but it keeps me satisfied until lunchtime most days, making it a perfect quick + easy breakfast.

Today’s mix!

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch salt
  • cinnamon
  • 1/2 nectarine
  • 1/2 cup wineberries (the last of them!) 😦
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter


It’s just now lunch time and I’m starting to get hungry – the oatmeal worked!

Let’s just hope my lunch is just as filling.


I brought more of the barley/bean/corn/tomato salad with extra tomato, some leftover green beans, and 1/2 an avocado for some fat.


I do have a snack for this afternoon, but I have a feeling my lunch will be pretty filling thanks to the whole grains, veggies, fiber, and healthy fats.

Plus, any lunch with avocado is good with me 🙂

Do you ever wake up starving and What are your favorite filling meals – are there certain foods/combinations that never fail to fill you up and keep you satisfied?

I’m always looking for new ideas and recipes!


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Zumba Kicked My Butt



I pulled a muscle in my butt that I didn’t even know I had.

And I loved every minute!

It was so much fun!

Zumba is totally different than anything else I’ve done and it was a nice change from running and things like BodyPump and the 30 Day Shred. I think having variety is definitely important, and I really hope to be able to keep going and/or get the DVDs so I can do it at home.

I got home at 9 pm (the class was from 7:30 – 8:30, and we needed dog food), grabbed 2 big glasses of water and settled in for White Collar – and then I took a shower, got in my pjs and crashed 🙂

It was a great night!

And my butt / right leg are still feelin’ it this morning 😉


What do you do for activity?

Run, walk, lift, zumba?

After the class last night, I’d say my very favorite activities are:

Hiking, BodyPump, and Zumba. All fun in their own ways.

I also used to do Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies at my Mammaw’s house after school. He may be crazy, but I can still do the pony!


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Tonight could possibly be a new adventure.

As of right now, I have plans to try Zumba for the first time.


A former WW coworker and friend is teaching Zumba now (on top of her other 500 jobs), and told me she does a Tuesday evening class just a few minutes from me.

So…unless something crazy changes once we get home (or I chicken out!), I’ll be trying to get my groove on for an hour later tonight.

Fact: I used to cheer in middle/high school and am fine learning and doing choreographed dancing, but ask me just to bust a move or look okay dancing with other people?

Not going to happen. I can dance like Carlton from Fresh Prince


or Elaine from Seinfeld


and that may be the best you get from me.

This should be interesting.

My trip is totally sneaking up on me!

Nick and I leave for Honduras again in 2 weeks, so I need some guest posts to put up while we’re gone. The hotel we stay in does have internet, but it’s never guaranteed to work and we’ll be busy all week working, so there’s a good chance I won’t be able to blog at all until we get home.

Want to post here for me? Send me your guest post to branappetit [at] gmail and I’ll get it scheduled.

It can be anything – a fun recipe, healthy living tips/ideas, fitness tips, your story, etc.


Have you tried Zumba? Love it, hate it?

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When I looked up the definition of a snack cake, it was described as “a cake recipe that is a one pan cake, all mixed and baked in the same pan”.

While I didn’t mix the batter in the pan it was baked in, I think that’s the closest description for this sugar crusted, tender crumbed cake.


Here’s what you’ll need.





Sugar Crusted Snack Cake

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp maple sugar or regular sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In large bowl, mix applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and egg together.
  3. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and stir until mixture is combined.
  4. Pour batter into buttered/greased 8×8 baking dish.
  5. In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle mixture of top of batter.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


The combination of maple syrup in the batter and maple sugar on the top is irresistible and gives just enough sweetness to the cake.

If you don’t have maple sugar, regular white sugar or brown sugar will work just fine.


I’m still not sure what to call this.

Coffee cake?

Snack cake?

Maple cake?

Snickerdoodle cake?

That last one might be the closest. The cinnamon sugar crust is like one giant layer of the best part of snickerdoodle cookies, all in one place.


If you make them, I’ll take name suggestions!

But whatever you do, just make them.

Your boyfriend, husband, brother, or dad will thank you.


Just make sure you grab a few pieces before they get their hands on the pan.

Baked goods stand no chance in this house. I’ve learned to move quickly or be ready to find an empty, crumb filled pan.


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