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.

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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

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Corn, Potato, Tomato Curry

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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
(source)

Ingredients
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

Directions

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

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

Ingredients
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

Directions

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

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve been all about soups lately. Besides it just being cold outside, I have night classes three days a week and need easy things I can grab and go before 5 or 6PM. Mondays I have class from 5-8, Tuesdays from 6-8, and Wednesdays from 6-9. I hate eating late, so eating before class is definitely the best thing for me to do. But.. to do this, I need something I can make QUICK.

Crockpots work well for this quick kind of cooking I’m looking for. Though it does take all day for the meal to cook, when it’s time for me to eat, I can eat quick. I can wake up early in the morning, throw everything in the pot, turn it on, go about my day, and come home to a house smelling delicious and dinner hot and ready. It’s like having a personal cook.

Except I’m the one doing the cooking.

This chicken tortilla soup was packed with flavor. It was great the first day, but even better the second.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 cans Ro-tel
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried cilantro
96 tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

1. In a crockpot combine the chicken, Ro-tel, beans, corn, onion, chicken broth, water, and spices.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours.

2. Serve the soup with 12 chips and 1 tbsp of sour cream.

* serves 8
* 346 calories per serving
* This recipe is being shared with Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen.

Peanut Butter Chili

I’ve been talking about how cold it is around here lately and I’m really not lying. I just attempted to chase my cat outside but gave up and decided he can come home when he’s ready, because unless I bundle up there’s no way I can manage the cold. I mean, I’m cold just sitting on my couch. There’s no way in hell I was going to chase him out for further than I did; he’s covered in fur. I don’t have much of that.

To keep warm on nights like tonight I have to make things that are known for their ability to warm up a cold person on a cold day. Soup works well for this. Chili does as well. I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and needed to give it a try.

The peanut butter in this chili gave it a very different flavor than what I normally associate chili flavors to taste like. I’m not complaining though. The addition of the peanut butter was definitely complimentary to the taste buds and also made the chili very creamy.

PS – while I was typing this the cat came home. I guess he got cold too.

Peanut Butter Chili

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 12-oz can tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn

Directions

 1. In  a large pot heat the olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent.

2. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and their liquid, the pepper, salt, chili powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Let simmer for 5 minutes and then add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, and peanut butter. Stir until the tomato paste and the peanut butter are well incorporated. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat and add all of the beans and the corn. Simmer for 20 minutes.

* serves 8
* 380 calories per serving
* This post is being shared with Ms. enPlace‘s See Ya in the Gumbo!