This April is the first month I participated in Foodie Pen Pals hosted by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.
If you’ve never heard of this program, here’s how it works:
You send a box of goodies to your matched up pen pal on the 15th of the month, in which there is a $15 spending limit. You can send fun foodie things, local food items, or even homemade treats, and the box also has to include something written. It can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe.
Then on the last day of the month, you get to post about all the wonderful goodies you received from your pen pal.
I was so fortunate to be paired up with Shelby Shaw of Chicago, IL (She does not have a food blog, but herportfolio websiteis amazing! Go check her works and be prepared to be in awe!). I told her that I don't have dietary restrictions but would love to receive some 'local' goodies that represent Chicago. So here's what I got from her:
Red shallot confit with red wine
(looking forward to try it!)
City caramels: caramel with espresso beans inside
(Yummy with the kick from the espresso beans! Love it!)
Papaya cashew mix granola
(The BEST granola I ever tasted. I think I'm addicted to this now, and will buy again and again and again!)
Windy City Sweets Peanut Butter Cup
(Hello, gorgeous! Bye, Reese's!)
Close up view of the peanut butter cup (Unfortunately, it was completely gone 2 minutes after I took this picture!)
Thanks so much, Shelby for all the wonderful stuff you sent. I really appreciate the efforts you put into this and I we enjoyed them all!
If your interested in being a Foodie Penpal, click thislinkand contact Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean.
To make spiced rum sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Add rum, cream and cinnamon, and bring to simmer. Continue cooking until the sauce is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk eggs, milk, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon in a large bowl until well blended. Place shredded bread and dried blueberries in the greased baking dish. Pour the egg mixture onto the bread. Bake in the oven until puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, and drizzle the pudding with spiced rum sauce immediately. Cool down slightly and serve warm.
To make the sautéed chicken and mushrooms: In a large heavy skillet, heat the cooking oil and sesame oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic, stir and cook until fragrant. Add diced chicken and sliced mushroom, cook until the chicken are done and no longer pink. Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock, stir and continue cooking until the stock is reduced to half. Transfer chicken and mushrooms to a large bowl and set aside.
To make the broth: In a large saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, stir and cook until fragrant. Pour the chicken stock into the saucepan, season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Add chopped green onions, bring the broth to boil and let it simmer.
Place water, oil and salt in a different large saucepan. Heat it up and bring to boil. Add the noodles into boiling water, and cook until tender but not mushy (about 3 minutes). Drain the noodles and separate them into 4 bowls. Top each noodle with some chicken-mushroom, and ladle some broth over the noodle. Serve immediately.
With a little bit of butter, or some jam, or by itself.......It's still delicious!
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons (melted) for brushing
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup rum
Place the dried blueberries in a medium sized bowl and pour the rum over them. Let it sit until most of the rum is absorbed by the blueberries, and the blueberries turn soft. Drain and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk, salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and butter over medium heat until the butter melts and the temperature registers to 110-120 degrees F. Remove from the heat, add yeast and mix until the yeast dissolves. Let it rest of about 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast mixture turns foamy. Transfer the yeast mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining of sugar and 3 1/2 cups of flour, along with the eggs.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour (if needed) to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Fold in the blueberries. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dole in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, and divide into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a ball, then roll each ball into evenly thick rope about 16-inch long. Line 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet, and braid the ropes loosely from one end to the other end. Press the ropes ends together to seal. Let rise and bake in the 375 degrees F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until turns golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven, brush with melted butter immediately. Transfer to a wire rack to cool down.
1 cup mashed ripe banana (from 2 or 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) granola
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add mashed banana, butter and milk. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and remaining flour, beat till blended. Stir in 1/2 cup of granola.
Line the muffin pan with the paper liners. Fill each pan with the batter, about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with some granola. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan, and cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 12-14 muffins.
Note: Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
To make the wontons: Mix the cheese thoroughly in a large bowl. Place a teaspoon of cheese in the center of a wonton wrapper. Brush the edges with some water, fold the wonton in half, and press the edges firmly to seal. Repeat the process with the remaining of the wrappers and cheese. Arrange the wontons, single layer, on a baking sheet.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Make sure you have enough oil to cover about 2 inches from the bottom of the frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry the wontons, a few at a time, until golden brown. Transfer immediately to baking sheet lined with paper towel.
To make the dressing: Mix honey, lime juice and minced mint leaves in a medium bowl until well incorporated. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To serve, place 2 or 3 wontons on a serving plate, and drizzle with the dressing.
1 tablespoon chinese cooking wine (or substitute with dry sherry)
1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 package extra firm tofu, sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
In a heavy skillet (or wok), heat the cooking oil over high heat. Add garlic and ginger, stir and cook until fragrant. Add black bean sauce. Toss green beans and tofu into the skillet, followed by soy sauce, chinese cooking wine/sherry, salt and pepper. Stir fry the green beans and tofu until cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Serve hot with steamed rice.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For the Irish cream filling:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons Irish cream liquor
For the white chocolate glaze:
4 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoons dried lavender buds
To make choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour and keep stirring until the dough dries up and pulls away from the side of the saucepan. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixing bowl. Mix with the electric mixer, adding one egg at the time, until well incorporated. Pour the dough into the piping bag with half-inch tip and pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets (about 1 to 1 1/2-inch in diameter), an inch apart between them. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove form the baking sheet and cool down completely.
To make Irish cream filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream, sugar and Irish cream liquor until the cream becomes stiff and hold its form. Transfer cream into a piping bag with 1/4-inch tip (or cut the tip of the bag with scissors). Insert the tip of the piping bag into the side of each choux pastry, squeeze the bag and fill each pastry with the cream filling.
To make white chocolate ganache: Combine butter, white chocolate and whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, mix, and continue until the mixture is smooth. Dip the top of each pastry puff into the chocolate mixture. Arrange the puff pastry on the baking sheet or a tray. Sprinkle the tops with some dried lavender buds. Store in refrigerator until the chocolate set. Serve.
2-5 whole dried chili peppers (depending on how spicy you want the broth to be)
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound green beans
20 sliced of lotus roots (optional)
To make the wontons: Place the ground chicken, corn starch, chopped green onions, ginger, salt and pepper in a large glass bowl and mix to combine. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper and brush the edge with the water. Press the edges firmly to seal. Continue the process with the rest of the ingredients. Arrange the wontons on a lightly dusted (with corn starch) cookie sheet in a single layer. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
To make the broth: In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant. Add chicken stock into the saucepan, followed by kaffir lime leaves, dried chili peppers and soy sauce. Bring to boil and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chili peppers from the broth.
In a different saucepan, bring water to boil and 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Place the lotus roots in the saucepan with water, cook for about 5 minutes, remove from the pan, drain and set aside. Repeat the process with the green beans, cook until just tender but don't overcook them. Drain and set aside.
In the same saucepan, place a few wontons at the time and cook for 3 minutes or until the wontons start to float to the surface and cooked through. Set aside.
To serve: place green beans, lotus roots and few wontons in individual bowls. Pour the broth over the wontons and vegetables. Serve hot.
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 1/3 cups plus 4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
For blueberry-lemon filling:
beaten egg whites from 2 eggs
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 tablespoon Meyer lemon grated zest
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (or whipped cream), optional
To make pie crust: in a food processor with metal blade, place the flour and salt, process for a few seconds until combined. Add butter, a few small pieces at a time, continue processing until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the remaining cold butter and very small amount of ice water, pulse about 6 times. Pinch a little dough between your fingers. If it does not hold together, add a little bit more water and pulse 3 more times. Transfer the mixture onto a lightly floured surface, knead just a little bit, just enough for the mixture to hold together and feels slightly stretchy when pulled. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk and store in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes to overnight.
Lightly oil the muffin pan (or use muffin liners). Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into 1/8-inch thick. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut out 24 circles. Place the crust into each muffin cup, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place pie weights in each muffin cup (or line the crust with parchment paper and fill with rice or dried beans), bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove the weights, prick the bottom of the crust using fork, continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the crust turn pale golden color. Cool down, but do not remove crust from the pans.
In a large mixing bowl, mix blueberries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch until well incorporated. Brush inside of each pie crust with egg whites. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of blueberry lemon filling into each baked pie shell. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool down completely. Just before serving, spoon a teaspoon of vanilla yogurt or whipped cream on top of the pies.