Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Foodie Penpal

The Lean Green Bean
This month I participated in my first food swap through Foodie Penpals.  The program is run by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean.  This month I was paired with Cynthia, she writes a blog called Home Matters 1st. She sent me a great box of goodies!

The box contained:
  • Bruschettini (snack size Italian Bruschetta Toast)
  • Artichoke Bruschetta Spread and Dip
  • Harvest moon vegetable soup mix
  • An Italian seasoning grinder mill
  • A handmade embroidered kitchen towel

The bruschettini with the artichoke bruschetta spread was so good. I toasted the bruschetta with grated parmesan cheese, delicious!

I love the Italian grinder mill, its the perfect mix of Italian seasoning with a touch of sea salt. The kitchen towel Cynthia made added a nice personal touch. Thanks Cynthia!

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals. 

-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 Penpals 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 August, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

 You must submit your information by August 4th as pairings will be emailed on August 5th!

 *If you're from somewhere besides the US, Canada or Europe and want to participate, send me an email and I'll see if we get enough interest this month!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Rolls with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Summer rolls, sometime referred to as fresh spring rolls, are a great alternative to traditional fried spring rolls. They are refreshing, healthy, low calorie and filling.  Summer rolls are made with rice paper wrappers, which can be found in international grocery stores or in the Asian section of major grocery stores. The rice paper can be a little difficult to work with at first but once you get the hang of soaking and folding the wrappers, they become an easy appetizer or meal.  I often eat these for dinner with a salad.

Summer rolls are very versatile, you can add any combination of vegetables and herbs from asparagus to cucumber and mint leaves. You can make vegetarian rolls or add chicken, pork or shrimp.

Summer Roll Recipe

For this recipe I did not give specific measurements, vary the portions to your taste. One cup of each ingredient will yield about 10 spring rolls.  Also all of the ingredients are not required and not limited to the ones in the recipe.

Vermicelli Noodles, cooked and drained
Fresh basil leaves preferably Thai basil
Fresh cilantro leaves
Shredded lettuce or green cabbage
Mung bean sprouts
Shredded carrots
8 inch Spring Roll Rice Paper Wrappers
Shredded cooked chicken or cooked shrimp, whole or sliced in half

Fill a large bowl or baking pan with warm water. The container should be large enough for the rice paper to lay flat.

Soak a sheet of rice paper (make sure there are no holes) in the water for about 30 seconds or until the rice paper softens up. Lay flat on a plate or cutting board. If the wrapper becomes sticky and limp you have soaked the wrapper to long

Lay chicken or shrimp on the on bottom third of wrapper, then add a small amount of the noodles, herbs, lettuce, bean sprouts and carrots. Leave about a half an inch free on the sides.  Fold bottom of rice sheet over filling, then fold in end s and roll into tight roll. Repeat.

Serve immediately or cover with damp paper towel and plastic wrap and refrigerate. While refrigerated the wrappers will become slightly firm. Summer rolls can be made a day ahead.

Serve with dipping sauce (recipe below) or a store bought peanut sauce.

Hoisin Dipping Sauce


1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chilies powder
3 oz unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
¼ cup chicken stock
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 (8 - 10 oz) bottle of hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar or 2 packs splenda
1 ½ tablespoon lime juice

Heat the oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, sauté garlic and chilies until brown about 2 minutes.

Add coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Transfer sauce into a bowl, garnish with chopped peanuts and serve.

Note: This sauce can be frozen in an air tight container for several months.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Four Layer Delight

When I think of the 4th of July, I am reminded of the many summers I spent in Mississippi as a child. Every year my parents shipped my brother and I off to Lucedale Mississippi, a small southern town near the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. We would spend the entire summer with our grandparents.  I am grateful for those times because I had the opportunity to get to know my grandparents and extended family.  I spent the summer playing with cousins and running around my grandparent’s small farm.  We would spend the 4th shooting fireworks, eating barbeque, fried catfish, potato salad and plenty of desserts, like Four Layer Delight. 
Four Layer Delight is one of the desserts that evokes fond memories for me. And like its name, it is delightful. It has a pecan crust, with layers of sweet cream cheese, vanilla pudding and Cool Whip…yummy!  My grandmother would often make this during the summer because it was light and cool; perfect on a hot summer day. Every time I make a four layer delight I am reminded of those summers.

Four Layer Delight
Servings: 15
Calories: 294   Fat: 13.7   Carbohydrates: 35.5g   Protein: 5 g
Weight Watchers Points+: 9

  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package fat free cream cheese, brought to room temperature
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups 2% milk

In a bowl, cream together margarine, flour and pecans. Press into 9x13 pan. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes at 375 degrees or until very lightly browned. Cool completely.

2nd Layer:
In a bowl, cream together until smooth cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 heaping cup of the whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust.

3rd Layer:
Whisk 2 boxes pudding mix and milk and allow to set up slightly. Spread over cream cheese layer.
4th Layer:
Top with remaining whipped topping. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Keep refrigerated.

What food or dish reminds you of your childhood?