Foodie Pen Pal Reveal: January



After taking a month off from sending food packages to each other and instead donating money to those affected by the storms on the east coast that ravaged towards the end of last year, Foodie Pen Pal’s is back for more packages being sent packed with food.

This month I received a box from Jillian, from Her Split Ends. She did a wonderful job of getting me foods that I love. Flavors and foods I told her I was craving this month included: tea, chocolate, squash, quick to eat snacks, and mango.

The box I sent went to Dominique. She had requested a recipe and told me that she liked Mexican food, so I sent her a recipe to the Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas I’ve made before. The box mainly consisted of the ingredients to make the dish (minus the chicken and the sour cream and other super perishable things) as well as a box of Mexican hot chocolate. I live in a very Hispanic neighborhood. One of the grocery stores I frequent is actually a Mexican market, so coming about Mexican food is very easy for me (as are other cuisines – I love California.)

Anyway, you might be wondering what Foodie Pen Pals is. You’re probably wondering how is possible that some stranger somewhere in the country got your name and address and decided to send you a box of food.

Foodie Pen Pals is a program that Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean put together, where she pairs people together to send boxes of food to each other, based on likes and dislikes.

  • 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 treat

Without further ado, let’s look at what Jillian sent me.

IMG_8524First things first. Here’s a picture of what I unpacked from my box. I forgot to include the card Jillian sent in the picture, but it read:

Happy Foodie Penpal Package! I hope you enjoy all this yummy goodness! Good luck in law school and in your future!!
Love & Joy



In the initial email I sent to Jillian I told her that while I love to cook, I have a ton of night classes this semester. I get sooo hungry when it’s 9 o’clock and I haven’t eaten dinner yet. Snacks are essential to my survival. Jillian sent me quite a few snacks, some of which I’d never have before. These Chia & Fruit Clusters, for instance, were something I have never had (or even seen) before. They were great. I brought them to school with me a few nights to munch on during lectures. They were filling without being too filling.


A container of mango coconut water was also included. Honestly, I haven’t had it yet. I brought it to work with me one day to include in my lunch, but then we ended up going out to get Mexican and I forgot I had it with me. I do intend to drink it today. The idea of mango and coconut water together sounds delightful.



Jillian also included several tea bags. I love tea. Lately, with how cold it is outside, I’ve been drinking multiple glasses a day. I’ve used two of the tea bags so far and they were both great.

IMG_8531For as much as Justin’s Nut Butters are shared on Foodie Pen Pals, I’ve never actually tried it. I’ve even sent it, but I haven’t tried it. I used the Maple Almond Butter with a bowl of oatmeal. I ate the Chocolate Hazelnut with a banana (though I was tempted to just squeeze the package in my mouth.) I love Nutella. Justin’s tasted like a healthier version of one of my favorites.

IMG_8525I’m a chocholic, so this bar of chocolate did not last very long. And get this! My boyfriend watched as I opened the box, saw this bar of chocolate, and darted off with it. Lucky I got it back. Chocolate and orange is one of the most delightful flavors (and in fact, is my favorite ice cream flavor.) I was good though and didn’t off the bar in one sitting. I shared it with my boyfriend and actually savored it for several days.

IMG_8526Jillian also included a Kind bar for me. This made a great snack during one of those evening classes where my stomach was growling.

IMG_8527Last, but definitely not least, was a box of Butternut Squash Risotto. This was a very easy way to make risotto and was incredibly flavorful. I actually had it for dinner last night. I intended to take a picture of what I had done with it, but I forgot and only remembered when the meal was gone. I made Simple Garlic Shrimp and served them on top of the rice. There were also kale chips for the side. It was a nice, easy dinner.

Jillian did an excellent job of putting together a box for me with things that I loved! Thanks Jillian!





Fish Pie


This month over at BakeBakeBake the challenge is British. Frankly, my experience with British food is very small. All I can think of is fish and chips. But a baked British dish? Google was required to find something to meet the challenge! Fish pie is a pie made with white fish. It is a traditional British dish. Upon googling I found Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie recipe, using a combination of fish, shrimp, carrots, celery, lemon, tomato, spinach, and mashed potatoes.

I was skeptical, but clearly I had no reason to be. This dish was time consuming (until it went into the oven) but came out perfectly with a beautiful crispy potato topping.

Fish Pie

2 lbs white potatoes, cut into pieces
1 carrot, shredded
2 sticks celery, shredded
5 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lemon
2 1/4 lbs tilapia, cut into pieces
4 oz shrimp, cleaned and peeled
olive oil
1 handful baby spinach
2 tomatoes, quartered


1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 12 minutes. Once the potatoes are tender, mash together with several glugs of olive oil.

2. Place the grated carrot, celery, and cheese together in a baking dish. Zest the lemon into the baking dish. Cut the tilapia into bite size pieces. Mix the tilapia, shrimp, spinach, and tomatoes in with the grated vegetables.

3. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the dish. Bake for 40 minutes.

* serves 6
* shared with Tasteful Tuesday Party, Tasty Tuesdays,  Tempt My Tummy, & Recipe Box 

Pantry Party January Round Up


This month at Pantry Party we shared soup recipes. Soups come in a vast array of variety. Vegetables, noodles, lentils.. The list could go on and on. This month’s Pantry Party brought out some great looking soups. It’s been pretty cold here lately, but the pictures of these soups warms me right up.

The next theme will be posted February 1st, so keep your eyes peeled!

lentil coriander soup (500x351)

Corina at Searching For Spice shared her Green Lentil and Coriander Soup. The vegetables add a nice pop of color to this lentil soup.

caul onion soup 2

Michelle from Ms. enPlace shared with us her French Onion Roasted Cauliflower Soup, aka Freebie Soup, aka Fart Soup (named lovingly by her son.) This soup meets the challenge so well. Besides Michelle using ingredients on hand in her pantry, she made do with what she had in the house to make this soup for everything! Sometimes those are the best dishes.


I made a weird dish this month: Green Tea Soup. This Asian-inspired fish and rice soup utilizes green tea as the broth. The soy sauce in with the tea broth added a nice salty, green tea flavor. It was definitely different than any other soup recipe I’ve made.


The next dish is from Shelby from Diabetic Foodie. Shelby’s soup is a Quick Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup. This soup makes use of leftover chicken and leftover rice. Soups can be a great way to use up leftover ingredients!


Next, June from Inspired By… stopped by with a bowl of Crockpot Enchilada Soup. This soup is made up of a lot of ingredients I could find in my pantry. It looks like an easy soup to keep you warm!


Janet from The Taste Space brought a bowl of Lemon-Ginger Split Pea Soup with Toasted Coriander. Janet not only shares this soup, but she also recommends that everyone read Vegan For Life.


Last but not least, Jeni from I Got This Martha shared a bowl (or a tortilla bowl!) of Crock Pot Taco Soup. Jeni shares her love of the crock pot (I have a mutual love) and pours this yummy looking soup into a tortilla bowl.

What a wide variety of soups this month! Next month’s theme will be announced on the 1st of February! Thanks for participating and I hope to see you again next month!

Lentil Chili

IMG_8559This month’s Random Recipe challenge was to borrow a random cookbook from a friend and cook a randomly chosen recipe from the book. My cookbook this month was Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. My random recipe happened to be the lentil chili. I’ve never cooked out of this cookbook before, but after this chili dish I may need to add the book to my collection.

The only thing about this dish is I think it’s dryer than it should have been. My schedule during the week is nuts, so on Wednesday and Thursday I actually make dinner in the middle of the afternoon and then heat it up after I get home from my classes that go until 9 p.m. For this chili I did the first hours work of cooking in the afternoon and the last 10 minutes when I got home from class. I think the chili sitting there made it thicken up a whole lot more than had I done the whole dish at once and then eaten it.

The flavor was great though and that’s all that matters.

Lentil Chili

2 cups dried lentils
3 cups water
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste


1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add in the lentils. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover, simmering for 30 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, and onions. Stir in and cover again, simmering for another 30 minutes.

3. Add the salt and tomato paste, stirring into the lentils. Simmer for 10 more minutes, uncovered this time.

4. Stir in the vinegar, black pepper, and red pepper. Serve hot either alone or with toppings such as sour cream, cheddar cheese, etc.

* serves 4 large servings
* besides Random Recipes, this recipe is shared with Full Plate Thursday, Catch A Glimpse Party, Linkin’ Up Thursdays, & Showcase Your Talent Thursday  


Slow Cooker Machaca


Every Tuesday this semester it’s looking like I’m going to have to rely on my slow cooker. I work from 9 – 5 and then have class from 6:15-8:15. Wednesdays and Thursdays also have night classes, but I’ve been able to cook dinner at lunch time and just heat it up when I get home. This week’s slow cooker dinner was great and is going to make some lunches and breakfasts also.

This is absolutely not a traditional machaca preparation. Machaca typically is dried pork or beef which has been reconstituted. It can be used in a variety of dishes: tacos, flautas, burritos, con juevos, and more. I decided to serve this slow cooker version of the popular Mexican dish over a very Americanized Spanish rice.

My only issue was that I didn’t chop the chipotle peppers up enough. Whoops.

It also is nice that this month Cooking Around The World is cooking Mexican food. This dish is definitely getting shared!

Bloggers Around the World Logo

Slow Cooker Machaca

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 – 4 lbs chuck roast, cut into large pieces
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and minced
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
4 cups beef broth
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin


1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Place the pieces of beef into the skillet, browning the outsides. Place the meat into the slow cooker.

2. In the same skillet, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add to the slow cooker.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.

* serves about 12
* Besides Cooking round The World, this dish is being shared with Wednesday Whatsits & Cast Party Wednesday

Cocoa and Curry Rubbed Chicken



This month’s We Should Cocoa, sponsored by both Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog, has a theme of SUGAR-FREE. The challenge is to make a dish using chocolate but leaving out the ever loved sugar as a sweetener.  Originally I had decided I was going to make a sweet dish (mousse actually.) I had bought some Stevia to use instead of sugar. I made the mousse and it turned out okay, but I was really put off by the aftertaste of the Stevia. I’ve used it as a sweetener before so I’m not sure why it bothered me so much this time. But I couldn’t stand it to the point that I threw all my mousse in the trash.

I reevaluated the cocoa challenge and decided I’d take a savory route instead. While it may seem like I copped out because I picked a dish which inherently doesn’t use sugar, this actually was a huge stretch for me as I’ve never used chocolate in a savory dish before.

The chicken was delicious and I served it with rice and vegetable pilaf.

I’m glad this We Should Cocoa challenge pushed me into a different track to try something new!

Cocoa and Curry Rubbed Chicken

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin and cut in half
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Preheat your oven to 350. In a small bowl combine the cumin, curry, salt, pepper, and cocoa powder.

2. Rub the chicken with canola oil. Sprinkle 1 heaping teaspoon of the spice mixture onto each breast. Rub in the spice mixture with your hands. Place the chicken on a greased baking dish.

3. Bake for 25 minutes or until the juices run clear.

* serves 2
* Besides We Should Cocoa, this dish is shared with Tasteful Tuesday Party, Tasty Tuesdays, & Tempt My Tummy

Green Tea Soup



This month at this blog’s monthly Pantry Party, the theme is soup! Essentially the goal is to look into your pantry and make a dish that meets the theme with at least one (or more!) things found in your pantry. This month I relied on two pantry items to make soup.

– Rice
– Green tea

I also now have a new addition to my pantry: nori.

I was skeptical of this dish when I first started. But I was intrigued by this recipe from Sunset magazine. The idea of my broth being green tea seemed so odd, but.. I had to try it! I ended up adding some soy sauce to the broth because I felt like it needed a salt element to it. The addition of the soy sauce was perfect. I was so full after this bowl of soup.

Don’t forget to enter this month’s soup themed Pantry Party! I’d love to see what other soups came out of pantries this month. Entries are due by the 28th.

Green Tea Soup

1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 sheet nori, cut into strips
1 green onion, chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb swai (or other white fish), cut into 2 fillets
4 green tea tea bags
4 tsp soy sauce


1. In a rice cooker, cook the rice with 1/4 tsp of salt according to the rice cooker instructions.

2. Preheat the broiler. Rub your broiler pan with oil. Put your fish on the broiler pan and turn the fish over on the pan to get oil on both sides. Sprinkle remaining salt on the fish. Broil 3-4 inches away from the broiler until cooked through (when the fish flakes), about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3. Bring 4 cups of water to boil, either in a pot or a teapot. Once boiling add the tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the bags and stir in the soy sauce.

4. To pull your dish together, put 1 cup of rice into each bowl. Place a fish fillet on top of the rice. Pour half of the broth into each bowl. Garnish with green onions and nori.

* serves 2
* Besides Pantry Party, this recipe is shared with Food of the Month Club, Souper Sundays, Tasteful Tuesday Party, Recipe Box, Tasty Tuesdays, & Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Meatballs


This might not be the best picture to show what my completed meatballs and sauce looked like, but I wasn’t pleased with the pictures I took of the complete dish. Instead you get to see cooking meatballs. I really liked the meatballs. The addition of the sun-dried tomatoes was so good. Matt didn’t like them as much as some of the meatballs I’ve made in the past because he said they were too moist. It was probably because of the sun-dried tomatoes, but whatever. I liked them. He isn’t really always one to judge, because he likes it when I overcook things.

I served these meatballs over pasta with garlic bread. It was a carbalicious, delicious meal.

Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Meatballs

4 pieces of sun-dried tomato, patted dry
2 garlic cloves
1/2 anaheim pepper, cut into two pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 (14 1/2 oz) can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil


1. In a food processor, pulse together the sun-dried tomato, 1 garlic clove, one piece of the pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add in the breadcrumbs  and pulse more to combine. Remove the mixture to a large bowl.

2. Stir in the chicken, egg, and milk into the breadcrumb mixture with your hands.  Roll balls out of the mixture into balls 1 1/2 tbsp big. Roll the meatballs into flour and tap off any excess.

3. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the meatballs and cook for 6 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove and place on a plate.

4. Wipe the food processor clean. Add the other garlic clove, can of tomatoes, the other half of the pepper, and oregano. Pulse together until well combined. Pour the sauce into the skillet and simmer for 2 minutes.

5. Return the meatballs to the skillet with the sauce and simmer, turning halfway through, for 2 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

* serves 4 (makes about 20 meatballs)
* shared with Mix It Up Monday & Mealtime Monday

Corn, Potato, Tomato Curry


I love curries, but I’ve never made a curry with corn in it before. I was kind of skeptical at what this dish was going to turn out like. But I guess I am someone of little faith sometimes, because this dish turned out perfect. For about 525 calories (which includes 1 cup of rice) I got a delicious and healthy meal. And the colors of the dish, the red, yellow, and green, are so pretty. I accidentally put more coconut milk in the curry than what the original recipe called for, but I ended up really liking the more soupy texture of the dish. With the rice, it was great.

It was easy and was a great lunch!

In other news, school started this week. Life has suddenly got a little more hectic.

Corn, Potato, Tomato Curry

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 medium tomato, diced
4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 anaheim pepper, diced
2 cups canned corn kernels
1/2 can coconut milk
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder


1. Boil water in a large pot. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomato, cilantro, and anaheim pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes, then stir in the corn. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemon juice, and curry powder. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Serve over rice and enjoy!

* serves 4
* shared with Weekend Cooking

Baked Orzo with Kale and Cheese



Finding new ways to incorporate my veggies into my stomach has been interesting. I’m trying to include at least one veggie into my dinners. This is something I always intend to do, but have been slacking at considerably. I’m such a meat and potatoes girl. A pizza and ice cream girl. I like carbs and I like sweets and I like junk food. It’s a struggle to get my head into thinking otherwise. But I started this new year with a bang and so far have been pretty successful.

This was a smitten kitchen recipe which I slightly altered to make it work with the ingredients I had.

Baked Orzo with Kale and Cheese

2 tbsp olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz uncooked orzo
1/2 tsp tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 oz shredded mozzarella
3/4 oz grated Parmesan
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 head kale, sliced into thin ribbons
salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat your oven to 350. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and saute the celery for 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, tomatoes, kale, lemon zest, vegetable broth, and salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

2. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes.

* serves 2
* shared with Mix It Up Monday & Mealtime Monday