Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Foodie Pen Pal

This was my second month doing Foodie Pen Pals and I had such a fun time picking out again this month that I was looking forward to seeing what my foodie pen pal Kristi sent me.  You can see above that she sent a bunch of good stuff (I'm always amazed how much you can get for $15!).  She sent: Polenta, Potato pancakes, Cheese Bread Mix, Hot Pepper Parmesan Dip Mix, and Homemade Salsa.

I have to admit I was most excited for the Homemade Salsa.  I love me some Mexican food!  I'm not really a fan of bread, but my husband is looking forward to trying the Cheese Bread.  Since I hardly ever have bread in the house it will be a treat for him.  I've never made potato pancakes or polenta, so that that will be a new adventure.  And lastly, I'm a sucker for dips, so that Hot Pepper Parmesan dip mix won't last long! 

Thanks Kristi!!!

PS - If you want to see what I bought for Dawn, you can check out her blog HERE

Here are the details if you are interested in joining next month!
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re interested in participating for July, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Noodles and Company Penne Rosa


I'm a fan of the Penne Rosa from Noodles and Company.  Bill usually gets the Pasta Fresca.  It seemed easy enough to make so I wanted to try to make it at home.  I found a recipe through pinterest and decided to give it a try.  I added more mushrooms and spinach than it called for because it didn't seem like enough and because I always feel like I could use more of both when I'm eating at Noodles and Co. It turned out great.  Not exactly the same, but close enough and so easy!  Next time I think I will add even more mushrooms and spinach as they kind of shrink up.  Below is the recipe with the few changes to the amounts that I used.  I also added some chicken (optional at Noodles and Co) since Bill usually likes meat in his meals.

Copy Cat Noodles and Company Penne Rosa
From: What's Cooking at the Love's
Prep: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min

1 lb. box Penne Pasta
2 Tbsp white wine (can use chicken broth)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4-1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 - 3/4 cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
1/2 -3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 - 3/4 cup baby spinach
1 (14o) can Italian style diced tomatoes
Slices of cooked chicken (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Boil pasta according to package directions

2. while pasta boiling prepare spinach and mushrooms.  In a large skillet, heat wine, oil, marinara, mushrooms, tomatoes and red pepper over medium heat.  Stir liberally for 5 minutes.

3. Turn tomato mixture to low, stir in cream and spinach.  Then add pasta and mix well until spinach is wilted.  Stir in strips of cooked chicken if adding chicken.  Serve with sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quinoa with Avocado, Garbanzo Beans, and Tomatoes


My brother brought a bunch of avocados from California when he came last week.  Most of them went to batches of guacamole, but one lucky one got made into this scrumptious salad.  It is pretty easy and really filling. We liked it so much I'm making a big batch this week for our lunches.

Quinoa with Avocado, Garbanzo Beans, and Tomatoes
From: Elizabeth's Dutch Oven
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 avocado, sliced/chunked
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can (14oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1-2 limes
salt and pepper

1.  Cook quinoa according directions (mine: mixed 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water, brought to boil and let simmer covered for 10-13 minutes).

2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare avocado, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans

3.  When quinoa is done cooking, place in large bowl, stir in tomatoes, garbanzos and juice of 1-2 limes (I used 1 1/2 and they were pretty juice limes).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in Avocados last.  Serve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Balls

A friend at work brought in these Chocolate covered cookie dough balls and I knew I had to have the recipe.  I made them last weekend to bring to our family get together and they sold like hot cakes.  These are so easy and delicious that I will definitely make them again.  They do make a lot (around 30-40 balls) so I highly suggest making them for a group of people or you will end up eating them all yourself!

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Balls
From: Chef in Training
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 5 min

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 lbs chocolate disks or chocolate chips to coat (I used the kind marked for fondue and these worked great!)

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour, then add sweetened condensed milk. 

2. Stir in mini chocolate chips, mixing well.  Shape into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper.  Chill 2 hours.

3. Melt chocolate disks in microwave or double boiler.  Using 2 forks dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover.  place on waxed paper and chill to set.  Store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Easy Rhubarb Strawberry Jam


A few weeks ago I had a drink at DMK Burger Bar called Madame Geneva's Rhubarb Delight, which is Gin, lime soda, and gingered rhubarb jam.  And man was it tasty!  I've never had rhubarb before and decided when I went to the farmer's market that I needed to try and make some jam.  I found a couple easy recipes for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam that looked to easy to pass up.  It turned out great, although I might try a little less sugar next time and/or sugar free Jello-O because it is very sweet (but still tasty).  Bill made me his own version of the drink I had with the rhubarb jam and it was fantastic.  Although we mainly have been putting in on bread!

Easy Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
From: Frugal Upstate & All Recipes
Prep: 1-2 hours
Cook:  15 min

6-8 cups rhubarb cut into 1 inch chunks (2 lbs rhubarb = about 5-6 cups)
3 cups of sugar to taste
1 pkg (3oz) strawberry Jell-O

1. Wash and cut rhubarb stalks into half inch pieces and place in a large pan.  Mix in sugar with Rhubarb chunks.

2. Cover and let sit for at least an hour (up to overnight) until the juices come out of the rhubarb

3. Cook rhubarb mixture over medium heat stirring and mashing until it is soft and pieces of rhubarb have mostly disintegrated (about 10-12 min).

4.  Turn off heat and stir in dry gelatin mix.  Transfer to jars, or tupperware and refrigerate or freeze.  (I put one in the refrigerator and one in the freezer).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Homemade Cherry Pie Lara Bars

I really love the Cherry Pie Lara Bars.  The other flavor of Lara Bars are ok, but Cherry Pie Bar is my favorite, which is surprising because I don't like regular cherry pie, or pie in general.  But when I saw this recipe at Debbie Does Dinner, I knew I would have to try them.  Turns out, they are so easy to make and only 4 ingredients!  I ended up sending them to my May Foodie Pen Pal Tiffany, and she liked them as well.  I will definitely be making these again and again!

Homemade Cherry Pie Lara Bars
From: Debbie Does Dinner
Prep time: 10 min
makes about 20 balls (depending on the size)

6oz whole pitted dates, roughly chopped
6oz dried cherries
9oz pecans (or almonds)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

1. Place dates and cherries in food processor.  Pulse until processed to a paste.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Add nuts to processor (no need to clean in between) and pulse until finely chopped.

3. Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon to the bowl with the fruit paste.  Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the past.  Shape into balls or small bars on wax paper.


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