Foodie Pen Pal Reveal: February

FPP-post

Once again I received another wonderful box in the mail full of food. I love participating in this program and foresee continuing in it so long as it exists.

This month I received a box from Alyson at Simply Nutricising. In the email I sent Alyson with my likes I told her I liked hazelnuts, chocolate, candy, and spices. I also told her that I rely on snacks during the week when I have my late night classes but that I love to cook. The box Alyson sent me hit the mark perfectly. I love everything in the box.

The box I sent this month was sent to Kiersten. I sent her some Annie’s Mac & Cheese, some jam, some herbal coffee, and some other things.

So if you haven’t heard about it already, I’m assuming now you’re wondering “WHAT IS FOODIE PEN PALS!?” I mean, when I first read a blog post about it that’s exactly what I thought. So here, let me tell you.

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

So.. What did I get this month?

IMG_8632I had opened my box so late on Tuesday night. I have class Tuesdays until almost 9:30 p.m. I got home and I shoved some food into my face and realized there was a box sitting on the counter that I hadn’t seen when I walked in. After shoving food into my face I tore the box open like a ravenous dog.

IMG_8637Among the food varieties packed in the box, Alyson sent me a super cute kitchen towel. I’m always in need of these, so this was excellent.

IMG_8638Whenever I get a FPP box I can’t resist but chowing down on something immediately. I obviously don’t eat everything in the box in one sitting, but I always have to have something. Considering I had just finished dinner Matt and I shared this ka-ka-o milk chocolate peanut butter bark. I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. And I have an even bigger love for chocolate. I probably should have made this bark last longer than the minute it took to eat it so I could have savored it a lot more than I did, but it was excellent and was a perfect way to start the February FPP box.

IMG_8639Speaking of chocolate, Alyson sent me a handful of chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day. I did restrain myself a little bit – I haven’t eaten them all yet.

IMG_8640Alyson really listened when I said that there are some days when I could really use some snacks. She sent me multiple 100-calorie snack packs in three different varieties: chocolate pomegranate, dark chocolate roasted almonds, and dark chocolate blueberry. I’ve tried the almonds and the blueberries so far. I’m actually going to need to find these on my own because they are really satisfying when sitting in a class that feels like it’ll never end and your stomach is rumbling. On top of that, chocolate!

IMG_8641I haven’t had a Dum-Dum in forever. When I was in elementary school I recall having them a lot. I vaguely recall a teacher handing them out as rewards. I love the bouquet she created with the lollipops. They bring me right back to childhood!

IMG_8633Alyson also included this box of instant oatmeal called OatFit. I brought the box to work because when I get hungry after court it’s super easy to pop this in the microwave and have a big bowl of oatmeal. The coolest part about this is the convenience factor. The packet that the oatmeal comes in is also the measuring cup for water. Such a great product!

IMG_8635I’m feeling like this is the endless box of goodies! Alyson also sent me these flavored vinegars in calamansi (citrus) and cherry. Though I haven’t used them yet, I have found several ideas online for things I’m going to make with them. I plan on using the calamansi on roast salmon. Alyson also suggested using it in a salad dressing.

IMG_8636Last but not least, Alyson sent me two Penzey’s spices. One was in Bold Taco and the other is cinnamon. I love spices (and told Alyson that) so I was very excited for these. Also, I’ve been wanting to order Penzey’s for some time now, but I just hadn’t been able to justify the cost of their spices to myself plus shipping. But after trying the Bold Taco spice (I haven’t opened the cinnamon yet) I think I’m going to have to change that and start exclusively buying Penzey’s.

With the Bold Taco spice I made a pasta dish. It was delicious.

IMG_8643

Enchilada Pasta Casserole
(inspiration)

Ingredients
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp Penzey’s Bold Taco spice
3 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup red enchilada sauce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 can diced green chiles
6 oz egg noodles

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot boil water. Cook the egg noodles to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, cook the chicken until no longer pink. Stir in the Bold Taco spice until the chicken is all covered.

3. Add in the cream cheese until melted.

4. In a large bowl combine the heavy cream, enchilada sauce, half of the cheddar, half of the monterey jack cheese, the corn, and the diced chiles.  Stir to combine. Pour the sauce over the chicken and simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Add the pasta to the chicken. Mix well until everything is coated in the sauce.

6. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish. Cover with the remaining cheese.

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

* serves 3

Thanksgiving 2012

 

After I uploaded my pictures I realized this photo was preemptive – I forgot to put the turkey on my plate! I didn’t actually go turkeyless though, so everything is right in the universe. For Thanksgiving I am at my parents’ house. I wasn’t responsible for all the dishes and will only be sharing the recipes for what I actually made. But our dinner consisted of:

– Turkey
– Bread
– Sauteed green beans
– Twice baked potato
– Roasted winter vegetables
– Stuffing
– Cranberry
– Biscoff pumpkin cheesecake
– Chocolate pecan pie

It was all great.

The first dish I was responsible for was the roasted winter vegetables. Last week at work we had a potluck and someone brought something similar to this. After having it at work, I knew I needed to make this at our own Thanksgiving because it was such a nice accompaniment to an otherwise heavy meal.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Ingredients
3 beets
1/2 butternut squash
4 yams
1 fennel root
2 tbsp sage, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400. Chop all the vegetables into cube sized pieces. Combine in a baking dish.

2. Add the olive oil, sage, and rosemary to the roasted vegetables. Toss with your hands.

3. Place in the preheated oven for about an hour and a half, until soft. Check every half hour and stir.

* serves about 14

Naturally I was also responsible for a dessert. While searching the web recently I found this recipe for a biscoff pumpkin cheesecake. On foodie penpals biscoff spread seems to be making its way through the boxes, so I decided that it must be good and I should try it. The biscoff spread is crazy good. Basically you’re eating the creamed version of the biscoff cookie. It’s hard to fathom such a thing even exists!

The cheesecake was a huge success and very loved at dinner. I think the cheesecake is one of the best Thanksgiving desserts. You make it the day before and all you have to do is cut it on Thanksgiving day.

Biscoff Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients

CRUST
30 biscoff cookies, ground into crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 tbsp brown sugar

CHEESECAKE
24 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 cup fresh roasted pumpkin, mashed
3 eggs, room temp
1 egg yolk, room temp
1/4 cup sour cream, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup biscoff spread, melted

Directions

1. `Preheat your oven to 350. First make your crust. In a bowl combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and brown sugar. In the bottom of a springform pan, pour the crumb mixtures. Press against the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Remove and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

2. Next, make the cheesecake. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, for about 5 minutes. Mix in the pumpkin and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until just combined.

3. In a small bowl combine the sugar, four, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Pour this mixture into the cream cheese and stir together well.

4. Pour your cheesecake filling into your cooled crust. Pour the melted biscoff spread on top of the cheesecake randomly and swirl with a knife.

5. Wrap the springform pan in several layers of aluminum foil. Put the pan in a roasting dish. Boil water and fill the roasting dish so that the water comes about half way up on the pan. Place the roasting dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes, until the top is brown and the cheesecake is puffy.

6. Let sit out and bring to home temperature. Once cooled, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

* shared with Sweet Treats and Swanky Stuff Saturday & Weekend Cooking