Foodie Pen Pals Reveal

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I jumped back into Foodie Pen Pals for the month of September and I’m so glad I did. However, I am now two days late with my reveal thanks to my dear post office. I received a notice that I had a package that didn’t fit in my mailbox on Sept. 19. I followed the instructions on the notice to request a redelivery via their online system. I waited four days and still no package, so I followed the instructions a second time in hopes of a delivery. No luck! I finally taped the notice to my mailbox for the postman on Monday and finally received my package today.

I received my package from Dominique, who was participating for the first time. She did an AWESOME job! When she initially e-mailed me she asked if I shopped at Trader Joe’s. I love Trader Joe’s, but the one here in State College is still being built so I obviously don’t get to one much unless I’m home in Maryland. She has since made me more ecstatic to have a TJ’s coming to my town because she filled her box will tons of TJ goodies! She also included a nice mix of sweets and non-sweets.

I love that she included personal notes on each item! Such a nice touch!

First item was TJ’s Salsa Verde. It’s made with fresh tomatillos, green chile, water, onions, salt, spices and jalapenos. I love that I know what everything is on the label. That’s one of the best parts of TJ’s items. You never have to worry about crazy ingredients you can’t even begin to understand. Up next were the Caramel Bites cookies, which Dominique suggested I eat with coffee or tea. They’re cute little waffle shaped cookies with caramel inside. Can’t wait to dip into those!

Interestingly enough TJ’s has their own Taco Seasoning mix. Who knew? This will be a great dinner option as I’ve never made tacos before. I’m sure Gabe will reap the benefits of my first attempt at tacos with this mix. She also included a Instant Miso Soup mix. Like she said on her little note, this will be great to keep at work for when I’m strapped on time and didn’t bring a lunch. All you have to do is add water. Another item I found really interesting is the Tuna in Red Panang Curry Sauce. The directions on the back of the box are super easy so this will also be perfect when I’m out of groceries and/or have little time to fix myself something for dinner. One final item that goes well with dinner recipes was Tomato Paste. Have you ever made a recipe that called for a tbsp or so of tomato paste and then you’re stuck with an entire can? Well, thank you to TJ’s for coming up with a tube of tomato paste that’s recloseable. It kind of looks like a tube of toothpaste. My mom will love this idea!

One item that I opened right away were the Honey Roasted Almonds, which are apparently a new product for TJ’s. They’re DELICIOUS….go buy some now 🙂 One final “sweet” item she included were a few Fleur de Sel Caramels. They’re nice and gooey!

Last, but not least she included two great recipes. The one for Salsa Verde Carnitas I’m going to share with you!

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 lbs pork butt (pork shoulder
  • 2 cups salsa verde
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt
  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas, heated and softened
  • 1/3 head of cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija Mexican farmer’s chees, or some grated Monterey Jack
  • Crema fresco, crema Mexican or sour cream
  • chopped cilnatro leaves for garnish

1. Trim excess fat from the prok shoulder roast. Put roast, salsa verde, onion, chicken stock, cumin seeds, coriander seers and oregano in a large, thick-bottomed pot, and heat on high heat. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and simmer until meat pulls away easily with a fork (about 3 hours).

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Remove meat from liquid in pot and put the meat into a roasting pan. With two forks, tear the meat into large shreds, spreading them out in an even layer in the roasting pan. Roast meat for 15-20 minutes until parts are brown and crispy.

3. While the meat is roasting, skim and discard fat from the liquid in the large pot. Heat the pot on high and vigorously boil the remaining liquid, stirring, until reduced to 2.5 cups, 8-10 minutes.

4. Return the eat to the pot with the liquid. Stir in chopped cilantro. Season with salt.

5. Serve with heated and softened corn tortillas, diced avocado, crumbed Cotija or grated Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and seasoned cabbage slaw.

Season Cabbage Slaw

Place thinly sliced cabbage in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle on olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar, salt and pepper. You can substitute white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for the rice vinegar. If you do, sprinkle on some sugar to help balance the acidity of the vinegar. Toss. Adjust seasonings. Let sit for 10 minutes for the cabbage to absorb some of the dressing.

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