Foodie Penpal Reveal: August


For the third 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 my Foodie Pen Pal box from Mary at A Small Loss. Mary’s blog and story is inspiring, as she is on a journey to lose 210 pounds. I have about 50 pounds myself and am inspired to start trying again. If Mary can lose 146 so far, I can lose 50. Anyway, Mary just moved back to Chicago recently and she got me my food really quick this month (it arrived before the 15th!) In the original email correspondence between Mary and me I told her that spices were one of my favorite flavors. I recognize “spices” isn’t exactly a flavor, but Mary seemed to get what I meant.

Mary sent me three different snack bars. Yes, yes, I know there’s only two pictured, but number three got opened and eaten by Matt before I got around to taking the pictures. I haven’t eaten the Ginger Snap bar yet (actually, I’m bringing it to school tomorrow for my evening class when I start getting hungry.) Matt and I split the carrot cake one and was very impressed with the flavor.

The missing bar was an Uber bar. It was some sort of banana flavor that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Matt devoured it. I’m surprised I even got this picture of it.

The main component in my box was 6 different spice mixes from a place in Chicago called The Spice House. I’m super jealous that Sacramento doesn’t have a place like this. I even yelped it to see if there was a shop dedicated to spices in the area, but it doesn’t appear to be so. I’m so glad Mary sent me these different spices. They’ll give me a lot of opportunities to spice up dishes in ways I haven’t done before.

The first spice there, Pilsen Latino seasoning is inspired by Chicago’s Little Mexico. Mary told me she uses this seasoning on fajitas.

Gateway to the North sounds delicious. The packaging lists several different ways to use it and Mary also suggests using it on savory oatmeal.

The Italian Sausage seasoning Mary says is delicious on roasted eggplant.

The Argyle Street Seasoning is inspired by a Chinese neighborhood in Chicago. Mary puts it on veggies and fish. I made shrimp and put this seasoning on it. It was delicious.

Bridgeport Seasoning is inspired by an Irish neighborhood in Chicago. Mary says that scrambled eggs or roasted cauliflower is a good combination with this seasoning. This is the seasoning that became my recipe for this post in fact! The seasoning is cheesey (if that’s possible!) It’s very flavorful and when gone I may need to order more. I found the recipe on the Spice House’s website. I’ll be using that site a lot to take advantage of these spice combinations.

Lastly there’s a Moroccan Spice Mixture. Mary says it’s good on chicken and dried plums. I’ll have to give it a shot!

Pick a spice mix from above and tell me how you would use it!


Bridgeport Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp Bridgeport Seasoning
1/2 cup walnuts, ground in a food processor
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil


1. Trim each breast. Pound with a mallet until thin.

2. Whisk the egg and water together.

3. Combine the Bridgeport Seasoning, walnuts, and flour in a large dish.

4. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg and then the seasoning mixture.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil. When hot add the pieces of chicken and cook for 5 minutes per side.

* serves 3





Slow Cooked Curried Beef

One thing I’m trying to do with my slow cooker meals is make two meals out of one. I don’t mean by that to eat the same meal two days in a row – I mean to make something different with the slow cooked recipe the second night. The last slow cooker meal I made didn’t make it to my blog because I forgot to take a picture – but it was lentil chili. The first night I ate it just as is. The second night I ate it as chili fries. I don’t like eating the same meal multiple nights in the row. It’s one of my quirks. But this a way where I can make use of a big meal over two days.

This is how my Mondays work:

– I wake up at 6 and sit on the couch for a little bit.
– I eat some breakfast.
– I prepare dinner in the crockpot.
– Around 10 a.m. I turn on the crockpot and I go to my Public International Law class until noon.
– I eat lunch in the Student Center.
– I go to back-to-back classes from 1:30-8:15.
– I come home and eat the slow cooked meal.

Tuesdays aren’t quite as crazy:

– I wake up at 6 and get ready for work.
– I work til noon.
– I eat lunch at the Student Center.
– I go to class from 1:30-3:30 and then 6:15-8:15.
– I reconfigure my crockpot meal.

From there my week is downhill and I can cook stuff not in the slow cooker.

Now, back to my curried beef meal. I should have taken a picture of it both nights, but I kind of was hungry when I got home from class tonight so I just chowed it down.

Day 1: Curried Beef over Rice
Day 2: Curried Beef Tacos

Slow Cooked Curried Beef

2 tsp canola oil
2 lbs beef short ribs, trimmed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1/3 cup green onions
3 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp red curry paste
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce

1 cup cooked rice

4 flour tortillas
1/2 tomato, diced
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp sour cream


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper. Add half the ribs to the pan, cooking 2 minutes on each side. Place the ribs in a slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining ribs.

2. Add the green onions, garlic, and ginger to the pan, sauteing 2 minutes. Stir in the water and curry paste, cooking for 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Add this mixture to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

3. Remove the ribs from the slow cooker. Shred rib meat with 2 forks. Discard bones.

4. DAY 1 INSTRUCTIONS: Serve beef over 1/2 cup of rice.
DAY 2 INSTRUCTIONS: Reheat curried beef in oven set at 350 for about 20 minutes. Take two small tortillas. Spread with sour cream. Place beef on top of the sour cream. Top with diced tomatoes and feta.

* makes 6 servings of the beef, (DAY 1 & DAY 2 both make 2 serving portions)
DAY 1 CALORIES: 382 calories
DAY 2 CALORIES: 480 calories
* Shared with Tuesdays at the Table, Tasteful Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Recipe Box, & Delicious Dishes

A Note From The Owner: Proposition 37

On California ballots this November we will be voting on Proposition 37, an initiative that would make food companies that use GMOs in their food to include labeling that would inform consumers who want to know that the food is not in fact ‘natural’ but was made using GMOs.

I’m really not all that concerned about eating processed food or genetically modified food. I feel like I’ve been eating it for the most of my life anyway – so whatever. But at the same time, I think it’s important to know what’s going into your mouth and fueling your body. I think it is the responsibility of food companies to allow us this knowledge, so people can make decisions about what they’re eating without being misled. And I find it disturbing that they want to continue being sneaky and dishonest with their labeling.

Starting this week I have decided to not purchase products sold by any of the companies that have paid to oppose the Proposition 37 campaign. I don’t feel comfortable knowing my grocery money is going to oppose a proposition that I think is important to Californians, and everyone.

If these companies want to continue using GMOs in their foods, I really don’t care. But if they want to continue to use GMOs they need to be honest about it and allow people to easily look at a package and know one way or the other.

For a list of major food companies against GMO labeling you can look here.

All I can say is grocery shopping was pretty hard today.

Lemon Rolls

This month at LiveJournal’s BakeBakeBake the challenge was to make a baked good using yeast. I was hesitant to partake because last time I tried something involving yeast, it was just a massive fail. I think mostly my last failure had to do with the temperature of my house and less to do with me just sucking. This weekend was the opportune time to make something using yeast. It was hot, but not too hot. And I had time (between reading for classes.)

I actually was convinced these wouldn’t work though. In fact I threw out my first yeast/milk combination because I think I had the milk too hot and the yeast wasn’t having the reaction I wanted it to. When I finally made the dough, I was still convinced these weren’t going to work. In fact, I was so convinced that while my dough was rising I went to Jamba Juice to get something to eat because I just had this feeling my dough was going to end up in the trash instead of the oven.

I am glad I was wrong!

These rolls were delicious. Though similar to the traditional cinnamon roll, these are filled with a butter, sugar, lemon combination. They were so good I couldn’t even take the picture of them without eating one first. Or two. 🙂

Lemon Rolls

1 1/2 large lemons
1 envelope (.25 oz) active yeast
3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100 degrees
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar


1. Zest and juice the lemons. Divide the zest into three equal parts. Divide the lemon juice into two equal parts.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over warmed milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until foamy. With the mixer paddle, stir the softened 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour into the milk mixture. Stir in the salt, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and one of the portions of lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the flour to make a soft yet sticky dough. I used about 3 1/2 cups of flour.

3. Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes.

4. Lightly grease the top of the dough with vegetable oil and turn the dough over so it’s covered in oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a towel. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled for one hour.

5. In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar with the 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and ginger. Add in a portion of the lemon zest and combine with your fingers until the sugar resembles soft sand. Slowly pour a portion of the lemon juice into the sugar. Stop when the sugar and lemon juice form a thick, clumpy mixture like wet sand.

6. Grease a baking dish. On a floured surface pat the dough into a rectangle about 10×15 inches.

7. Spread the 3 tbsp of remaining butter evenly across the dough. Spread the lemon-sugar mixture over the top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch the dough taut as you roll to keep the sugar inside. Cut the long roll into 12 even rolls. Pinch the bottom of each roll closed and place open and cut side up in the baking dish.

8. Cover the rolls with a towel and let rise for an hour.

9. Heat the oven to 350. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

10.While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a food processor whip the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the remaining lemon juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and process until smooth and creamy.

11. When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze and sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest.

* makes 12 rolls
* Shared with BakeBakeBake, Mealtime Monday, Makin You Crave Monday, & Mix it Up Monday

Hawaiian Turkey Meatballs


I had some leftover ground turkey and some leftover pineapple chunks and decided to make this delicious meatball meal for lunch recently.

That’s all. I don’t really have anything to say. It was yummy which is why I’m sharing!

Hawaiian Turkey Meatballs


1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp brown sugar

2 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

2. Mix together the ground turkey, onion, garlic, ginger, egg, panko, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Knead with your hands to combine well.

3. Roll the meat into 1-inch meatballs. Place on baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water, brown sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the cornstarch and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring.

6. Stir in the pineapple chinks. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the meatballs and recover, cooking for 5 more minutes.

7. Serve with rice.

* serves 4
* 374 calories per serving (not including the rice)

Baked Rosemary Polenta

If you’ve never had polenta today is the day we change this. I bought a tube of polenta at the grocery store to make these delicious baked crisps of yummy. For those that don’t know, polenta is cornmeal that’s cooked to a paste. It was a tube of this cornmeal paste that I got at the store and which you can probably get in yours too.

I served these with meatballs, which were good but were uninspired which is why they aren’t featured nor do they get a recipe. Just make your favorite meatballs and pair them with this baked polenta!

Baked Rosemary Polenta

1 tube polenta
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Cut the polenta tube in half. Cut each half into approximately 16 slices.

3. Place the pieces on a baking sheet and brush the polenta with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.

4. Combine the rosemary and Parmesan and set aside until the polenta is done.

5. Remove the crispy polenta from the oven. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan-rosemary mixture. Serve warm.

* serves 4
* Shared with Foodie Friday & Foodie Friday


Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Stew


The first week of my last year in law school was this week. Just two semesters left and I’ll have to change the name of my blog. It won’t be the Law Student’s Cookbook anymore, but the Unemployed Law School Graduate’s Cookbook. Well, that is until I pass the bar and hopefully get hired somewhere great. Then my blog will be called The Public Defender’s Cookbook. But more likely it will just need a new name that leaves me unaffiliated with a career. When that day comes . . . No. I can’t even think about it. It’s still so far off.

Anyway, school started this week and I have night classes two days every week. Last semester I had a ton of night classes.
Last semester I also got really fat because I ate out so much. On top of gaining pounds, my wallet got pretty slim. I would prefer things to work in reverse, so I’ve decided I really just need to implement ways that make getting home just before 9PM okay. The number one way this is going to work is if in the morning before I leave for work or school I throw everything for the day into a crockpot. That way when I do get home just 2 hours before my bedtime, I don’t feel like I need to run and get fast food to satiate myself. And frankly, anything I can make at home tastes a million times better than something that comes through a drive through.

This week has been a pretty mellow week compared to what the rest of my semester is going to look like. Two of my classes got cancelled the first week of school, so instead of two nights of needing quick dinners (rather, slow cooked dinners,) I only had one.

During the middle of my Prosecutorial&Defense Ethics my stomach started grumbling. I was happy to find this slow cooker stew when I got home.

Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Stew

1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 potato, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup green beans, broken into pieces
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry lentils


1. Add everything except for the lentils into a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. Add lentils during the last hour of cooking.

* serves 6
* 273 calories per serving
* Shared with Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen & What’s Cooking Wednesday

Chicken and Dumplings


This month at Food ‘n Flix we watched The Help hosted by Glennis at Can’t Believe We Ate. This is actually one of my favorite movies (and books) of all times. I typically don’t enjoy movie renditions of books, but I really feel like the movie did a great job of creating the book onto film.

In The Help there’s a lot of cooking on part of the help, the maids who raise rich white families’ children, cook dinners, and get no praise or thank you for the hard work they put in. The movie is based in Jackson, Mississippi, deep in the US South. There was a lot of fried food, a lot of Crisco… In fact Minny Jackson says at one point in her cooking lessons to Celia Foote:

“Crisco ain’t just for fryin. You ever get a sticky something stuck in your hair,like gum?…That’s right, Crisco. Spread this on a baby’s bottom, you won’t even know what diaper rash is…shoot, I seen ladies rub it under they eyes and on they husband’s scaly feet…Clean the goo from a price tag, take the squeak out a door hinge. Lights get cut off, stick a wick in it and burn it like a candle….And after all that, it’ll still fry your chicken.”

That’s actually the direct quote from the book, so maybe she delivered it differently in the movie. I don’t remember.

But that quote almost convinced me to make fried chicken. And if not fried chicken, to make something else with Crisco.

But as I sat there after the movie I found myself craving my Aunt Beau’s food. My Aunt Beau is actually my great-aunt. She lived in North Carolina before she died several years ago and really has been my only influence in Southern food. The movie left me hankering for hush puppies, for deep fried soft shell crab, and most of all, for chicken and dumplings. I didn’t eat very much Southern food growing up because that influence was across the country from us. But when I did have it, it just felt good.

And it still felt good and felt right and reminded me of my Aunt Beau when I made it. This is far from being an authentic chicken and dumplings.  I mean, I got it from Rachael Ray. And on top of that, I didn’t even use a full chicken. But I’m sure my aunt would appreciate me working with what I had to make something reminiscent of her.

And then I almost had to scratch the whole meal because there were bugs in my biscuit mix. Lucky I found another box in my cabinet which was unopened and didn’t have the same problem.

Chicken and Dumplings

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup warm water (plus more if needed)
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup frozen peas


1. Place a large pot on the stove over medium high heat. Add oil, butter, vegetables, and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper, and bouillon. Add flour to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Stir broth into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken to the broth and stir.

2. Place the Bisquick in a bowl and combine with water and parsley. If the mix is too thick, add more water. You want it to be fairly watery – not as thick as if you were baking biscuits. Drop tablespoonfuls of the biscuit mix into the pot, spacing the dumplings evenly.

3. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and stir chicken and dumplings to thicken sauce. Stir the peas in, until warm. Serve in shallow bowls.

* serves 2

Chicken, Chickpeas, and Lentils

This was actually two dishes, but as I was making dinner it kind of became one. I had sort of an ingredient snafu, having to throw away the kale because it became inedible. So instead of making kale with lentil and the chicken, I kind of just threw the chicken on top of the lentils without the greens on top of rice.

It ended up being really good and hearty, so while I do wish my kale hadn’t been sitting in the garbage, my meal still came out delicious.

Chicken, Chickpeas, and Lentils

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped, divided
1 carrot, diced, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground red pepper flakes
1/4 lb uncooked lentils
1 can diced tomatoes, divided
2 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cayenne
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1/2 tbsp lemon juice


1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir half of the onion and half of the carrot in the hot oil, until softened. Add half the garlic, the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat and cook for 1 minute.

2. Stir the lentils, half the tomatoes and its juice, and 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth into the onions. Cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a new pan sprayed with cooking spray brown the chicken over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

4. Saute the remaining onion, garlic, and carrots. When tender stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir fry for 1 minute, then mix in the remaining broth and tomatoes. Return the chicken to the pan and reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Add the chickpeas to the pan and simmer. Cover pan and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve both the lentils and chicken over rice.

* serves 2
* Shared with Foodie Friday & Foodie Friday

Roasted Vegetable Orzo


I always forget how much I love orzo until I eat orzo. And then when I eat it I inwardly question why I don’t eat it more. I’m sure you know, but despite looking like rice orzo is actually a noodle. While the word orzo, also known as risoni, is also called “big rice,” and even “barley,” orzo is not a grain. It’s a short-cut macaroni. And it’s so versatile. I can’t believe how often I forget orzo exists. I need to load my recipe list up with orzo recipes just to force myself to make it more because . . . YUM!

This recipe using orzo reminded me of my love of the pasta. It made a good vegetable dish, a good pasta/orzo dish, and was generally pretty easy to make.

I paired it with a chicken dish, but really I think this recipe could stand alone.

Roasted Vegetable Orzo

1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 red onion, cut into chunks
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch sugar
salt and papper, to taste
4 tsp chicken bouillon
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (16 oz) package orzo
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 450.

2. Place the zucchini, squash, onion, asparagus, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Add in the garlic, olive oil, and sugar. Mix to coat the vegetables. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the vegetables, for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.

4. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the bouillon, wine, and orzo. Cook the orzo until al dente, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

5. Stir the roasted vegetables and Parmesan into the orzo.

* serves 6
* 369 calories per serving
* Shared with Presto Pasta Nights & What’s Cooking Wednesday,