This past September I attended a meeting of the Columbus Dietetic Association where I learned about an interesting program created and hosted by a dietetic intern/blogger in the Columbus area called Foodie Pen Pals. Here is her summary of the program:
And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals and what the program is all about:
-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 & European residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 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 from the US or Canada and are in participating for November, please CLICK HERE (www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/) to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by February 4th as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!
*If you’re from Europe, please CLICK HERE (www.thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/) to signup.
I thought that is sounded like a really neat opportunity to meet other “foodies” and to get the chance to recieve a fun package in the mail filled with food (who wouldn’t like that?)
On winter break I finally signed up for the program. I put together a box for my “penpal” and waited anxiously for mine to arrive.
Then, on a cold winter Friday afternoon. . .
It finally arrived.
I was so excited that I tore through brown paper that was so carefully wrapped around the sturdy square package to discover the following items:
Basmati rice, a slotted turner, vanilla sugar, chicken stock, pot roast seasoning and garlic sea salt.
My penpal knew I like to cook so we decided that she would send me some of her favorite things to cook with.
We used the garlic salt on garlic bread the night I got the package but since then we have tried it on brussel sprouts, chicken and potatoes (it basically goes with everything).
and last week I made a pot roast in the crockpot with the seasoning and it was so delicious and super simple. All I had to do was stir a cup of water into the seasoning and pour over chopped veggies and meat and cook for 8 hours on low. With salads and bread it was a quick and easy winter meal.
then last night I pulled the Basmati Rice out of the pantry and served it with chickpea curry and naan. I loved how aromatic it was and how quickly it cooked (15 minutes versus 25-45 for regular rice).
Overall, I really enjoyed this program and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys food (or getting large packages in the mail). It was really fun to try some new ingredients that I wouldn’t normally think to buy. I look forward to participating again in the future.
What could make this better on a snowy winter night?
No. Not a new episode of Downton Abbey. Getting warmer though (no pun intended and a new Downton Abbey never hurts)
I was thinking more along the lines of individual servings of baked beans that have been naturally sweetened with cranberries, maple syrup and molasses then topped with crispy warm and lightly sweetened cornbread.
This recipe earned a 10 out of 10 from my family. It is from Oh She Glows who is such an inspiration to me because of the talented way she combines flavors and textures.
The original recipe calls for baking in a casserole dish but I was short on time so I baked individual portions in a jumbo muffin tin. The results were delicious. The caramelized baked bean exterior was perfectly complemented by the fluffy cornbread.
The delicious and hearty winter meal.
Pumpkin Maple Baked Bean Cornbread Casserole (slightly adapted from OhSheGlows)
Maple baked beans with a pumpkin twist all topped with a lightly sweetened cornbread.
Yield: 8 servings
Cornbread Topped Maple Baked Beans:
- 3 (15oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 sweet onion, chopped finely
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste
- 1.5-2 tbsp regular mustard
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a pot, add a splash of oil along with the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Now add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook over low heat until thick, about 10-15 mins. You can make this the night before and leave it in the fridge like I did.
Cornbread Topping (I don’t suggest making this on its own as cornbread, it works as a topping only)
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour (I used spelt flour)
- 2 tbsp ground flax
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp light-tasting extra virgin olive oil (or canola)
3. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir until combined.
4. Grease a casserole dish (I used 2.3 L) or a jumbo muffin tin (makes approximately 8 servings if using a jumbo muffin tin), spread in the maple beans, and spoon the cornbread mixture over top. Bake at 400F for about 35 minutes until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Note: Does not keep well for leftovers (it dries out a bit). I suggest serving immediately or halving the recipe if needed. Enjoy!
This recipe has been in my “to try” list for a very very long time. I love butternut squash. In fact, lately I have been buying them whole and instead of peeling and chopping them up I just bake the entire squash whole at 400 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes. When the squash is soft, all I have to do to peel off the skin and scoop out the seeds. So easy, and then I have squash to last me for the rest of the week. I use it in salads, quesadillas, soups, etc.
The method of cooking squash that I described above yields steamed squash with a more canned pumpkin like texture. However, this recipe requires that you roast the squash in the oven to achieve a much deeper flavor and some nice carmelization. Other ingredients are roasted with the squash including apples, onions, fresh sage, etc. It tasted a little like Thanksgiving stuffing with squash instead of bread.
While all the ingredients roasted, you cook your risotto. Risotto has a notorious reputation as being hard to replicate at home. My best advice would be to pay attention! Risotto requires stirring and an eye for when to add more stock to get the right consistency. Otherwise, it is surprising simple to make and takes about the same amount of time to cook as a pot of brown rice.
Once the veggies are roasted you combine them with the warm silky risotto and top the whole mixture with slivered almonds, fresh sage and some warm cream. It was perfection! I often critique my dishes as I eat them thinking that I should have added more of this or less of that but this dish needed no changes. Enjoy with a glass of white wine and a arugula-based side salad for a hearty and filling winter meal.
Cozy Harvest Risotto (serves 3-4 people) (slightly adapted from Healthy Happy Life)
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups of vegetable broth
1 small apple, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced (or use more squash)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
about 1 Tbsp of fresh mixed herbs: fresh thyme + chopped rosemary + chopped sage
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or safflower oil
salt + pepper to taste
1/3 cup sliced almonds
non-dairy (plain) creamer or milk (warmed – optional) (I used warm almond milk)
1. In a large saute or sauce pan, add the risotto rice and 1 cup of the broth. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. When boiling, begin to stir the rice with a large spoon or spatula. Keep stirring casually until the liquid has absorbed. Add in the remaining amount of broth in splashes as you keep stirring – until all the rice has absorbed the liquid. Now do a taste test of the rice. It should be velvety and tender when ready, so if the inside still tastes al dente, add in a few more splashes of broth. Keep adding until the rice is as tender as you’d like it. I like my rice very soft, so I usually add in about 3 1/2 cups of broth.
2. While your rice is cooking, you can do your harvest mix. You can either roast all these ingredients in the over (400 degrees for about 20 minutes) – or you can saute them in 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Whichever method you use, just cook until tender and ready to eat.
3. When both your rice and harvest mix components are cooked, you will not combine them to serve. Per one serving: add 1 cup of the risotto to a saute pan, over medium heat. Add in the almonds and fold well. Add in one fresh sage leaf torn into pieces. Fold well. Lastly, gently fold in 1/2 cup of the harvest mix. Allow to warm a bit then transfer to serving plate. Top with another spoonful of harvest mix and some fresh sage and almonds to garnish! Pepper on top is nice too. Add a splash of warmed non-dairy milk or creamer over top if desired.
This dish is best served on a warmed shallow bowl.
There is nothing better than a hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening. Except a bowl of soup that is packed with nutrients and protein and is super simple to make. That is why when I saw this recipe from OhSheGlows I knew I had to make it.
This soup seriously exceeded my expectations. Most all vegetable soups have thin broth with very little flavor. The broth in this soup has depth and flavor from multiple spices. The lentils add thickness and make the soup very satisfying and add a good dose of protein.
However, I am never one to just serve a bowl of soup for dinner and be done. So, I whipped up a tiny loaf of Irish Soda bread and smeared toasted slices with goat cheese to be served on the side and dipped in the steaming hot soup.
My father (a meat and potatoes guy who is ever so patient with the numerous “girly” meals he is fed throughout the week) said quote “I don’t normally like this type of stuff but this is really good, you can make it again.” Well, he is in luck because I will definitely be making this soup again.
Leftovers reheat well and taste just as good the next day.
Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup (from OhSheGlows)
Yield: 5.5- 6 cups
- 1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 & 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4-1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to taste
- 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 5-6 cups vegetable broth, more if desired
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- fine grain sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 handfuls torn kale leaves or spinach
1. In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add in the celery and sauté for a few minutes more.
2. Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne). You can add half the spices and add more later if you prefer.
3. Stir in the can of tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender and fluffy.
4. Stir in kale or spinach and season to taste adding more spices if you wish.
I woke up this morning and I actually didn’t want oatmeal for breakfast! I have eaten oatmeal every day for breakfast for at least a year. I love its versatility and the way it keeps me full all morning. However, this morning I just wanted something different. Something quick and filling.
Enter the two ingredient pancake.
I have seen various versions of this pancake all over the internet. I have never tried to make it because it only consists of mashed bananas and eggs. I thought for some reason that it would taste like banana-flavored scrambled eggs. I was very wrong. This pancake tastes just as good as any pancake made with flour or other grains and takes much less time to make.
Here is what I did:
Two-Ingredient Pancake (serves 1)
1 ripe medium-size banana
1 egg and 1 egg white
optional: cinnamon, vanilla extract
In a small bowl mash the banana very well with a fork. In a separate bowl whisk together 1 egg and 1 egg white (add cinnamon and vanilla extract if desired). Combine banana and egg mixture. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add batter. Cook over medium heat until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and the edges look dry. Carefully loosen the edges of the pancake and flip. Cook for another one to two minutes. Transfer to a plate and add whatever pancake toppings you desire. This is particularly good with peanut butter spread on top (it also adds some staying power).
I really enjoyed this pancake. I thought it had a very nice fluffy texture. I also love that I usually have all the ingredients on hand. This will definitely become a part of my breakfast rotation.