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