Foodie Penpal Reveal: July

For the second month in a row I participated in the most fun event on the web: Foodie Penpals. What is foodie penpals you ask? Here’s a breakdown:

  • On the 5th of the month you receive an email pairing you with information about who you’re paired with. You email that person to get information pertaining to allergies and dietary restriction.
  • By the 15th you put together a box of treats and mail them to your partner.
  • On the last day of the month you post a blog post about your box of treats.

  This month I received a box of goodies from Erika at You Just Did What?! Erika is also from California, just from a different part of the state than I’m from. She’s a runner and a good treat box packer! Erika sent me a variety of treats, all of which I’ve tried/eaten at this point! Well, except for the Power Bar, but I’m going to eat that tomorrow as a snack at work. First things first. Erika sent me a jar of Trader Joe’s Fat Free Spicy Black Bean Dip. I ate some of it spread on a sandwich. I also ate some off of my finger. I need to get some chips to eat the rest of this with, because it’s so good. The flavor is slightly spicy, but not overwhelming at all. I really like the texture of the dip. It might be fun to make into a seven-layer dip also… Oh man, or on nachos with melted cheese and guacamole. In the box there were also these two bars, a Luna Bar and a Power Bar. Like I mentioned above, I haven’t had the Power Bar yet. But I did have the Luna Bar at work the other day. It really just tasted like candy. For 180 calories for this size bar of what essentially is candy (with a lot more health benefits than just having a chocolate bar), I need to buy myself some of these. I get hungry at work at random times, so it’s nice having a snack in my drawer to grab and munch on. The Luna Bar did the job and I’m sure the Power Bar will as well. Erika also threw in two Crystal Light Margarita mixes. The first pack I used to make a pitcher with just water and the mix. The flavor was really great, especially when my boyfriend pureed some strawberries to add to it. The next packet will be used to make an alcoholic version of the drink (as suggested by Erika!)

Erika also sent me a loaf of lemon bread which she got at a bakery in Rancho Cucamonga. I was mainly surprised at how moist the bread was, even after being in a box and shipped across the state. Seriously, it tasted as if I had gone to the bakery myself and ate the bread the same day it was baked and sold. I had some of the bread for breakfast the day after I got my box of goodies. It made a great breakfast paired with a cup of coffee. While I loved everything in the box, this was my favorite part. It caught me the most off guard (a whole loaf of bread!) and I couldn’t get over how moist and tasty it was.

In my box I also got a container of trail mix, which has also been a great work treat. Now here’s a story for you. My boyfriend is allergic to almonds. I still eat almonds (and everything else he is allergic to), I just make sure to not mix it into his food. He’s not incredibly sensitive to anything he’s allergic to (which includes almonds and some other nuts, avocados, peaches, mangoes, and basically every fruit with seeds in the middle.) I told him when I first got it not to eat the trail mix, it had almonds in it and it was for me. Now, Matt just sometimes can’t resist things that look good to him even if he’s allergic. I mean, he’s even gone to the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying a peach just to complain for hours about how his tongue itched. Matt decided that if he picked the almonds and other nuts he’s allergic to out of the trail mix he’d be okay. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he complained for hours about his itchy mouth. He’s lucky his allergies are so minor because otherwise he couldn’t just decide to put things in his mouth that he knew he was allergic to. Crazy. With that being said, I have no food allergies to nuts or otherwise and I have eaten almost this entire tub of mix. The flavors are so good and I love it!

Last but definitely not least, Erika sent me a jar of strawberry jam from the same farm she got the trail mix from. This jam is soo good. Unlike the Smuckers I buy, this tastes a lot less processed and less sugary. The flavors of the strawberries are so strong and good. Rather than just spread it on toast, I decided my first use of the jam should be fun! I like to pick something from the box to make a recipe with to share here, since this is my food blog where I share recipes I’ve made and all.

This jam made its way into Strawberry Ricotta Stuffed French Toast. This hands down was the best french toast I’ve made. I credit the jam.

What are your favorite things to do with strawberry jam?

Strawberry Ricotta Stuffed French Toast

4 slices white bread
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp strawberry jam
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Spread 2 slices of bread with ricotta. On the other 2 slices spread with strawberry jam. Place a jam slice on top of a ricotta slice. Press gently.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture until well coated.

3. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Cook one sandwich at a time, 4 minutes per side or until golden. Repeat with the other sandwich. Let cool enough to cut in half.

* serves 2
* 397 calories per serving

Tuna Noodle Casserole


My mom tells me stories all the time about how when she was a little girl she hated Friday night dinners because her mom would make tuna casserole. Because of my mom’s aversion to tuna casserole, I never really had it as a child. But as a broke student, tuna noodle casserole is easy to make and incredibly cheap to make.

I’m not sure why she hated it so much, because yum!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

6 oz egg noodles uncooked
1 can of tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
parmesan cheese to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the noodles, tuna, mushroom soup, milk, peas, and cheese.

3. Spread into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

* serves 4
* Shared with Presto Pasta Nights,

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

It’s been so hot here lately that I’ve been staying away from the kitchen. When it’s 100+ outside the last thing I want to turn is stand over a heat source. Unfortunately it’s even too hot to barbecue. I can’t stand for more than a minute outside without wanting to run away inside.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m a vampire.

Regardless, many days as of late I’ve been eating out. I really don’t like eating out all the time because I like what I cook and because I feel like it costs way more than it’s worth so much of the time to eat out. But at least I wasn’t the one sweating over my cooking food.

I’m not sure what then I decided to make a dinner where the oven was turned on – but I did. These enchiladas were delicious. Though they took awhile, I wouldn’t say they were hard.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp Brummel&Brown
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
dash cayenne
3 oz green enchilada sauce
6 corn tortillas
2 1/2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup onion, diced


1. Preheat your oven to 350. Season chicken with salt and pepper and toss with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, let cool and then shred.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-heat melt the Brummel&Brown. Add the jalapeno and cook for about 4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour for minute. Whisk in broth, whisking until the liquid thickens, about 6 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and enchilada sauce. Mix together. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into a buttered baking dish.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a small amount of oil and cook tortillas in batches soft, about 1 minute per side. Divide the chicken between the 6 tortillas. Place the chicken, 1 tbsp of cheese, and 1 tsp of onion on each tortilla and roll into a cigar shape. Place in the prepared baking dish and cover with the sour cream mixture and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

* serves 2, 3 enchiladas each
* 654 calories per serving
* Shared with Mealtime Monday, Makin You Crave Monday, & Mix It Up Monday

Chicken Lo Mein

You’re right. This isn’t really lo mein. I really should have just titled the post “Chicken and Ramen with A Lot of Vegetables” but that hardly sounds exciting. For as simple and quick as this dish was, it really was full of flavor. I need to find more recipes like this before school starts next month because while I do love cooking and spending time in the kitchen, sometimes I really do only have 20 minutes.

Chicken Lo Mein

1 tbsp peanut oil
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 package chicken flavor ramen noodle soup
1 1-lb bag of mixed veggies
1/4 cup water


1. Heat oi in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.

2. Add vegetables and lid. Cook until the vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Cook the noodles (without the flavoring pack) according to the package directions. Drain.

4. Add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and ramen seasoning to the water. Mix well. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Add the noodles and toss to mix.

* serves 2
* Shared with Full Plate Thursday 

Funfetti Cake Batter Milkshake

This month the movie choice at Food ‘n Flix was called Because I Said So hosted by girlichef. This movie is about an over-bearing mother (played by Diane Keaton) who tries to hook her daughter (Mandy Moore) up with the ‘right’ man. Of course, this leads to a ton of ridiculous drama only best found in chick flicks. Don’t get me wrong – I love this type of drama and humor.

Milly, the daughter played by Mandy Moore, and her mother, Daphne run a catering company where they make amazing cakes. I mean, they make everything, but they make some extraordinary cakes.

I told you they made some crazy cakes.

And I could have made a crazy cake too, but I don’t really have any occasion. Instead, I made a milkshake. The milkshake was inspired by the cakes and was also inspired by something one of Milly’s suitors said to her (and this one wasn’t chosen by her mom): I love that when I breathe you in you smell like cake batter. And I love that you have this insane way of talking in circles that makes perfect sense. 

This milkshake was easy to make (and would have been easier if I didn’t have to use my food processor to do it because I broke my blender.)

Any cake mix and ice cream flavors could be substituted. I’m sure any combination would be great. The Funfetti was a great choice and the sprinkles on the rim just added all the more fun to the drink. And it tasted just like cake batter!

Funfetti Cake Batter Milkshake

1/2 box Funfetti cake mix
about 3 cups vanilla ice cream
about 3 cups of milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles


1. In a blender combine the cake mix, ice cream, and milk. Add ice cream or milk to reach the milkshake consistency you prefer.

2. Take a pastry brush and lightly brush the corn syrup on the rim of your cups.

3. Pour the sprinkles in a shallow dish. Put the rims of your cups into the sprinkles.

4. Pour the milkshake into your prepared glasses.

* makes 3 milkshakes
* shared with Food ‘n Flix , Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Mealtime Monday, Makin You Crave Monday, & Mix It Up Mondays

Ginger Ale Chicken

I veered off slightly from the recipe I was following to develop this ginger ale chicken. Somehow I managed to forget to buy apple juice at the grocery store. Without apple juice I had to make do with other liquids in my refrigerator for this meal. I had several things to choose from: lemon juice, lime juice, or ginger ale. I considered my options, looked carefully at the recipe, and decided the ginger ale would be my best bet for making something I was in the mood to taste.

I really enjoyed the chicken. I didn’t feel so quite so fond of the mustard greens, so I’m just going to ignore that they’re on my plate.

Ginger Ale Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp ginger ale
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup orange muscat champagne vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce


1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add the chicken and cook it all the way through. Remove and set aside.

2. Add the remaining ingredients into the skillet. Heat and mix until well combined. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the chicken until warmed through.

* serves 2

Egg Noodle Casserole

I don’t really have any commentary on this post. It was an easy pasta dish that tasted great.

Egg Noodle Casserole

2 cups egg noodles
1 egg
1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 green onion stalk, sliced
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cucumber, diced
1 1/2 oz ground beef
1 sausage link, of your choice


1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a casserole dish.

2. Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. In a small pan, saute sausage, ground beef, and zucchini until the meat is cooked and the zucchini is soft.

4. In a small mixing bowl, mix eggs, cream, mustard, and some salt and pepper.

5. In a medium mixing bowl, add noodles, sausage, ground beef, zucchini, green onion, cheddar, pepper jack, half the parmesan, and the egg mixture. Mix well so everything is covered with the egg mixture. Top with the remaining parmesan.

6. Bake for 30 minutes.

* serves 3
* Shared with Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Culinary Vibes

Cheesy Chicken Parmesan

This month the Crazy Cooking Challenge revolves around fried chicken. I was initially going to make a traditional fried chicken in the deep fryer, but I probably don’t need the calories associated with the oil and crispy crispy breading. Instead I decided I’d make something standard, but maybe not something always associated with fried chicken. The requirements of this challenge were that the chicken be somehow fried.

I’ve actually never fried chicken parmesan before. I usually just bake it. But frying the chicken before putting in the oven definitely made it better. It made the breading be so much crispier and it also made the chicken really juicy.

I found this recipe at The Always Learning Housewiff. She didn’t make any commentary on the dish, but I’ll tell you it’s great! When I was little chicken parmesan was one of my favorite dishes and is still something my mom frequently makes for me when I go home to visit. I think this is the perfect recipe and seems similar to what my mom used to make.

This may not be the traditional fried chicken imagined, but just writing this post is making me wish I had leftovers!

Cheesy Chicken Parmesan

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 8 oz total)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
4 tbsp Parmesan, divided
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup flour
1-2 tbsp of olive oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella


1. Rinse off the chicken breasts and pat dry. With a mallet tenderize the breasts and pound until about 1/2 inch thick.

2. On a plate spread the flour. In a shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs, 2 tbsp Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. In one more shallow bowl combine the milk and egg.

3. Arrange an assembly line in this order: chicken, flour, eggs, bread crumbs. Working one piece of chicken at a time, dredge both sides with flour and knock off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture and then coat with breadcrumbs. Set on a clean plate.

4. Set a large skillet over medium-high and pour in the oil. Once hot fry each piece of chicken for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

5. Heat oven to 375. In a baking dish pour one cup of pasta sauce. Place the chicken in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheesy is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

* serves 2


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Butterscotch Chocolate Cookies

How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? A lot of people go to barbecues, watch fireworks, and do the All-American thing. Me on the other hand? I took it as a day off from work. And what do I do on days off from work? I clean. I read. And I bake. Today I didn’t get very  much cleaning done, but I did read both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (and must say, I am obsessed!) I also made cookies. It’s not dark yet, but when the sun goes down I’m going to see if any of the neighbors are shooting off fireworks. And then back to work tomorrow.

I love the summer, where I can say I’m going to “work” instead of going to “school.” Only one year left!

These cookies are nice, soft, and fudgey. I’m sure my coworkers will be mighty happy when I bring them to work tomorrow.

Butterscotch Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup shortening
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
3/4 cup powdered sugar


1. In a small pot melt the shortening and chocolate chips. Let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in the sugar, eggs, condensed milk, and vanilla.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and butterscotch chips. Stir to combine, so that there are no dry spots.

3. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours, until firm.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350.

5. Roll the dough into balls, 1 tbsp in size. Pour the powdered sugar into a shallow dish. Roll the balls in powdered sugar and place on a baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart. Take a spoon and lightly flatten each cookie.

6. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove and let cool.

* makes about 48 cookies
* Shared with Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, & What I Whipped Up Wednesday

Hawaiian Flavored Sausage

This is a recipe that I have handwritten in my recipe box. For being as flavorful of a dish as it is, it’s quick to make. The sausage I used probably weren’t the best choice, I had sausage with cheddar cheese in them, but I was making due with what I had. A plainer sausage is better suited for the dish – or even maybe an apple chicken sausage or something similar. The cheesey sausages weren’t bad, but it wouldn’t be a first choice.

Also, I used the Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar that I received in June’s Foodie Penpal Exchange. It was a nice touch!
I’m definitely going to continue foodie penpals to get more ingredients to line my kitchen shelves!

Hawaiian Flavored Sausage

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tomatoes, chopped
4 links sausage of your choice
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp  Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe’s
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup pineapple chunks


1. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet (or a wok, but I don’t have one.) Cook the onions, tomatoes, and sausage in the oil for about 10 minutes.

2. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and apricot. Mix well.

3. Mix the apricot mixture into the cooking sausage. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbly.

4. Add in pineapple chunks. Lower the heat and cook until the pineapple is cooked all the way through.

* serves 2
* shared with Mealtime Monday