Foodie Penpal Reveal: October

 

Welcome to my fifth foodie penpal reveal!

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 my box came from Illinois from Gail. My last month has been horribly busy, as you can probably guess by my lack of updates since my last foodie penpal reveal. I’ve been juggling school, work, a sprained ankle, the death of my cat, the welcome of a new kitten, and now an infection on my face. Basically, it hasn’t been easy. And because one of my professors thought it was a lovely idea to assign two papers due on the same week, things just haven’t calmed down. The last of the two papers is due today though, so at least there’s that. Anyway, I have finals coming up in about a month so I’m not expecting things to calm down until mid-December. Especially since right before finals start I have a trial that I have to prepare for. It probably will get dismissed though, but you never know.

Anyway, that’s my hectic life. Understandably, I’m not the only one trying to juggle things. Gail was having some trouble finding a time to get to the post office when it was opened, which I totally get because I have the same problem too. Unfortunately though, because my box was a little later than usual (which is fine!) I wasn’t able to make a meal using one of the components of the box. I do still plan on it though and once I make it, I will link it up with this post.

Gail managed to pack me a box full of things I’ve never tried. It’s been a treat!

Because Illinois is the soybean capital of the world, Gail packed me a container of soybeans. I’ve never actually had a soybean like this before. It was crunchy and salty. They reminded me of a mixture between popcorn and a peanut. It’s actually nothing like popcorn, but I don’t know why it made me think of it. These are delicious though and are a great snack!

 

In the box was also these Trader Joe’s Cats Cookies for People. Given I had just gotten my new kitty Isabelle this week, I couldn’t have asked for a more opportune treat! These little cookies aren’t too sweat and are so easy to just toss into your mouth.

Gail also included these kale chips, at the suggestion of the Trader Joe’s cashier. I’ve had kale chips once before and they weren’t my favorite things in the world. For as much as I like kale, I thought the other ones I had needed something. These Trader Joe’s chips have exactly what was needed! The flavoring on these is great!

 

These pita chips are actually my favorite part of the box this month. I was blown away at how yummy they were. I don’t typically consider pita chips a sweet snack, but these proved otherwise! I ended up getting some pumpkin ice cream and eating the chips and the ice cream together. Not very healthy . . . But yummy!

Gail also packed me up some pumpkin granola cereal, which is great! I love pumpkin flavors and I always look forward to October when it seems like everything gets made in a pumpkin variety. My boyfriend actually had the first taste of the granola cereal. He mixed it with maple yogurt.

 

Lastly Gail sent giardiniera. I’ve never had this before and I haven’t opened the container yet. This is actually what I plan to use to make a meal out of. I’m planning to make Italian Beef Sandwiches. It’s an Italian-American relish that I am excited to try!

 

 

 

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Food n’ Flix: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Roundup

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is everything perfect for a foodie movie for October – the month of spooks! Rather than watch a traditional foodie movie, I opted for something sort of different this month. While this movie is far from extraordinary and actually leans much farther towards the tacky-end of the scale, it inspired some beautiful dishes this month.

I’m glad no one’s tomatoes attacked them! Looks like we all managed to attack first!

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla made a special type of ketchup – “Please Pass the (Homemade) Ketchup”! For as humorless as Camilla claims to be, she definitely imparted some humor into this ketchup, based on a scene where disguise expert Sam Smith dresses as a huge tomato and asks, “Can somebody please pass the ketchup?” of the killer tomatoes. This ketchup seems like it would definitely surpass any of the bottled stuff and it doesn’t even look too hard! I may need to try my hand at this killer ketchup.

This month Heather from girlichef shares an alcoholic concoction, Spicy Crystal Head Bloody Mary.  Heather made sure to eliminate the threat of killer tomatoes from her home by mashing them and then mixing it with toxins . . . or you know, vodka. Heather’s post about her drink and the movie made me chuckle. The Crystal Head Vodka is a great choice of vodka for an October movie!

Glennis from Can’t Believe We Ate… did a great job killing her killer tomatoes too. With 35 pounds of killer tomatoes attacking her home, Glennis canned them, making Killer Canned Tomato Halves. I feel like she should send all of us a jar, because clearly she has plenty!

Deb from Kahakai Kitchen made a delicious Bread-Tomato-Garlic Soup. I am dying at the killer tomato in her photo – boy does he look scared! And he should be scared, because his killer abilities are ending and he’s getting made into soup. I really want a bowl of this soup. It looks so hearty and with fall looming (at least it’s still only looming here in Sacramento,) it would be a great way to bring in the season.

Lastly, I made a Killer BLT. This is a little fancier than just a standard bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich – with chipotle mayonnaise and avocado added to the mix to make a killer sandwich!

And that’s a wrap! I’m glad such a silly movie inspired such delicious dishes. I’m sure there will never be another killer tomato attack after showing those tomatoes that we mean business! Good job everyone and have a Happy Halloween!

The upcoming movie for November is Julie & Julia which is going to be hosted at La Cocina de Leslie. This is one of my favorite movies, so I hope you join us for another month of food!

Spinach Tortellini Soup

 

I guess it’s that time of year where the soup and stew recipes start increasing. It hasn’t really cooled off significantly here yet, but I think the temperatures are going to start dropping soon. I’m over the 100+ degree summer. I know I’ll complain just as much when the temperatures start dipping into the 30’s and 40’s, but for a moment I will be relieved that I won’t be sweating up a storm. And I’ll be happy for the increase in soups in my meal plans.

Spinach Tortellini Soup
(source)

Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth
1 – 2 cups frozen tortellini
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil leaves
8 oz frozen spinach
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a deep pot heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic until it starts to brown. Do not burn the garlic though!

2. Add the beef broth into the pot. Add the tortellini into the pot and cook to the package directions, but don’t drain.

3. Once the tortellini is cooked add the diced tomatoes, basil, and spinach. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently and making sure that frozen spinach breaks apart and warms all the way through, about 5 minutes.

4. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

* serves 2

Killer BLT

 

As you may know, this month I’m hosting the Food ‘n Flix movie. For October we’re watching Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Check out the announcement post here. This movie is so bad, it’s good. I hadn’t actually seen it before. I laughed the entire movie. The jokes are so bad, the cinematography is so bad, the story line is pretty awful. But that’s the beauty in it, and I laughed and laughed.

When your BLT starts to attack, you know you have a problem.

Luckily the tomatoes I used on my BLT weren’t killers. I think I actually killed them with how I devoured this sandwich.

Killer BLT

Ingredients
3 slices sourdough bread
8 slices center cut bacon
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp adobo sauce
2 tomatoes, cut into thick slices
2 leaves lettuce
1 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the bacon on a cookie sheet with raised edges. Bake for 20 minutes until crispy.

2. While the bacon is cooking, toast the bread. Mix together the mayonnaise and adobo sauce in a small dish.

3. Spread some of the mayonnaise on one piece of bread. Lay four pieces of bacon on the bread. Then add the lettuce, avocado, and tomato slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the tomatoes.

4. Spread the mayonnaise on another slice of bread and lay it face down on top of the tomatoes. On the top of this slice of bread, spread more mayonnaise. Layer the bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado, and more salt and pepper. Spread the mayonnaise on the last piece of bread and lay it face down on top of the tomatoes.

5. Cut in half and try to fit in your mouth!

* makes one sandwich
* Besides Food ‘n Flix, this dish is shared with Foodie Friday & Foodie Friday

Mocha Zucchini Bread

This has been a horribly rough week. Last Monday I found my cat bleeding from the stomach. After taking him to the emergency vest and having him undergo surgery, he died on Wednesday October 10th in the early morning. It’s been emotionally tolling. And it’s even harder because while grieving, I till have to go to school and work. I’ve really just been not having the best of semesters, with the ankle sprain and now my kitty . . . Law school on top of my personal life is proving to be torturous.

When I get stressed, I bake. I always have. So to cope with the loss of my little cat I made zucchini bread.

It was a nice way to keep me distracted, to keep me from crying, and it’s made some good breakfasts.

Mocha Zucchini Bread

Ingredients
1 zucchini
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp cocoa
1 packet Starbucks’s mocha Via
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. Place the grating attachment into your food processor. Grate the zucchini. Place the grated zucchini between two paper towels and squeeze out the excess water.

3. In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, cocoa, mocha Via, salt, and baking soda. Beat until combined.

4. By hand, stir in zucchini and chocolate chips. Then add in the flour until moistened. Do not over mix.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

* Shared with Mix It Up Monday & Mealtime Monday

Mini Chocolate Muffins with Apple Cider Jelly Glaze

In my last Foodie Pen Pal package I received a jar of apple cider jelly from Sara. I had made the thumprint cookies that I didn’t let chill long enough. The jelly was so good I really wanted more ideas on what I should do with it. I had a comment from Stephanie who suggested a donut with jelly glaze. While I didn’t make a donut, I made mini muffins with a glaze of apple cider jelly! Thanks for the suggestion! These turned out excellent and were SO adorable (I love everything mini.)

Now that I’ve made two things with the jelly (and have eaten it smeared on toast, nom nom nom) I’m still looking for more suggestions! How else should I use this jelly to its full jelly potential?

Mini Chocolate Muffins with Apple Cider Jelly Glaze
(inspiration)

Ingredients

1 cup flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tbsp apple cider jelly
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
splash vanilla

Directions

1. Grease a mini muffin pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, nutmeg, and salt.  Cut the butter into the dried ingredients until it resembles a coarse sand.

3. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until combined.

4. Fill each mini cupcake 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when touched in the center. Set aside for several minutes. Once the muffins are not too hot to touch, place them on a wire rack.

5. While the muffins are cooling, make the glaze. Whisk the jelly together with the vanilla. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, whisking together until you have a thick syrup. You may not need all the confectioner’s sugar.

6. Dip the top of each muffin into the glaze. Place back on the rack and allow the glaze to set.

* makes 24 mini muffins

Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potato

 

The reason there haven’t really been any recipe updates is because I wasn’t cooking for awhile. I sprained my ankle very badly about two and a half weeks ago and have been incapable of standing long enough to put dinner on the table. Because of this, I spent many nights laying on the couch directing Matt what to do from my immobile position.

The first meal I made after being able to stand long enough was pork chops and mashed potatoes. I was so happy with these mashed potatoes and it was more than just the fact that I could stand. Seriously, these are the best mashers I’ve ever tasted. I will make them again (and again and again and again.)

Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potato
(source)

Ingredients
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
3 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp skim milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Place the garlic in a small ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Cool and peel.

2. While the garlic is roasting cook the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a large pot of water until tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the milk, butter, rosemary, and garlic. Mash until smooth. Mix in the cheese.

4. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.

* serves 3
* shared with Wednesday’s Whatsits & Cast Party Wednesday