This last month I learned about and decided to be a Foodie Penpal. I can’t remember how I fell upon this program, but it struck me as being so exciting. You sign up. On the 5th of the month you are given your assignment, of who you will be sending treats to. By the 15th of the month you send out your box of treats, having spent about $15 on what you put in the box. Finally on the last day of the month you make a post, sharing what you have and linking it to the roundup.
For my first month as a Foodie Penpal, Rose sent me a box of yummies. These treats hailed from Washington state, not too far from where I am in California. She sent me a variety of good things! I got things I can cook with, things I can snack on, and tea! Everything that I’ve tried out of the box so far has been delicious.
First I got a bottle of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe’s. I don’t really shop at Trader Joe’s for two reasons: first being I’m really cheap most of the time and second being there isn’t one around me. I love getting stuff from there though because everything is so exciting and not the norm you get at other grocery stores. I haven’t used this yet, but I was looking online about how people have used it. besides using it in salad dressings on lettuce and other vegetables, it also seems like it will make a great marinade. I was hoping to use all the ingredients Rose sent me and provide recipes to what I made with them, but unfortunately I just ran out of time for this vinegar. Keep your eyes open though, because I’m sure something involving this vinegar will grace my blog eventually.
This picture doesn’t do any justice to what’s inside the bag. Unfortunately the day the mail arrived it was flaming hot outside and the chocolate that was in the box began to melt. As soon as I saw, I threw all the melted stuff in the refrigerator and let it harden. It didn’t ruin any of the taste, but it lost some of its prettiness. Anyway, Rose shared with me some chocolate covered coconut. I love coconut and I love chocolate. I’ve brought these to work and they’ve been sitting in my drawer, getting munched on frequently.
Rose also sent me a bagful of Russian candies. I’m not going to lie – this intimidated me. My dad used to buy Russian candy when my brother and I were little and put it in our Christmas stockings, instead of the Hershey’s I’ve wanted. I really hated the chocolate he used to buy – it had all these strange fillings that I just didn’t like. When I saw all the Russian candy in my box I was worried that it would either go to waste or that I’d have to feed it all to Matt. I decided to not be closed minded about it though and to try some of the chocolate. My conclusion is that my dad just has bad taste in choosing Russian chocolates, because the ones Rose sent me have been delicious. I’ve been giving myself one treat of chocolate each night after dinner. This is a good lesson in not making judgments too quickly! Because I would have missed out.
Rose also sent me a bag of Northwest Vitality tea from her favorite tea store. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet (and really, I should have made myself a cup of it with the dinner I made from this box,) but oh well. I’ll make myself a cup as soon as I’m done with this blog!
Also included in the box was a bag of candied ginger. I’m not sure what I think about this yet! Ginger is such a strong flavor, and while I knew what it was when I stuck it in my mouth, it still caught me off guard and overwhelmed me. But how interesting! I love the concept.
Another treat in this box was a package of Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed snacks. This brought me back to grade school. The school I went to, in San Francisco, was very Asian. Growing up I have had a lot of Asian influence, including snacks. Back in the day, my friends would bring seaweed to school and they’d always give me some as a trade for a cookie. I remember how strange I thought the seaweed was before I first tried it, but then how in love I fell with the crunch and the salty flavor. This package also made it’s way into my drawer at work. It’s already gone. :X
The last part of this box actually assisted me in dinner tonight. Rose got me more from Trader Joe’s! She got me some South African Smoke Seasoning Blend and Rice Orzo Pilaf. I love to cook, so I was glad to get something I could create a meal with. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the spice, but after looking online I found a delicious recipe that I had to try. I feel like I get the spice mix now and see what I can really do with it. I served the chicken dish with the pilaf. Delicious and easy!
Inspired by my Foodie Penpal box, dinner tonight was a hit! Matt usually hates cinnamon on savory dishes, but the South African Smoked Spice Blend combined with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice really created an incredibly interesting explosion in my mouth. The flavors of the pilaf blended perfectly.
I’m hoping every month with my Foodie Penpal box I can make some sort of meal from the contents!
DO YOU HAVE OTHER IDEAS FOR WHAT I CAN MAKE WITH THE SOUTH AFRICAN SMOKED SPICE BLEND AND/OR THE ORANGE MUSCAT CHAMPAGNE?
Spiced Chicken and Mushrooms
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp garlic powder
dash of turmeric
dash of paprika
dash of South African Smoked Spice Blend
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 mushrooms, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Pound your chicken breast to 1/2-inch in thickness. Cut each flattened breast in half. I’ve really found recently that pounding your chicken makes it cook better and also makes it appear to have more on the plate.
3. Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
4. Place the chicken in a casserole dish. Using a pastry brush, brush the chicken with the oil on both sides. Using the brush, brush the spice mixture evenly on both sides of the chicken.
5. Cover with mushrooms.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the chicken, pour the rest of the vegetable oil over the chicken, and cook for 15 more minutes.
* serves 2
* 206 calories per serving