Foodie Penpals May Exchange

Another month, another foodie penpals exchange! Last month I received a recipe and ingredients from Carolynne in Chicago. After such success, I had to continue in May. This time I actually would be receiving gifts from someone in the area. When Krysten told me her location, I had to ask my husband because I am still learning my way around Seattle. I definitely did not care because there are probably many local goodies I have yet to know about. Krysten actually has several blogs, so you should check her out! I sent stuff to Jeannette in Houston and was happy when she received her items (I hope safe and sound). She will be posting on her blog about what I picked out for her. Keep reading to find out how special I was to have Krysten as my sender!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake

Sometimes you receive cookbooks that you never even heard of before, and you don’t know what to think of them. My dad gave me a Costco cookbook, and the first thought is “they make a cookbook?”. But actually, when you look at the recipes and get past the brands, you realize that you can make them and get some pretty cool things.

One of those “cool” recipes is for this chocolate chip cookie cheesecake. They call for using their chocolate chip cookies, which I did use. If you don’t have access to Costco, then you can either make your own or substitute other cookies. Just know that you’ll have to up the number because the Costco cookies are fairly large–bigger than my palm! I chose to use theirs because in a cheesecake, you’re not going to notice the flavor of homemade cookies, so it would be a waste.

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Smores Cupcakes

Smores…what do they make you think of first? I think many associate it with campfires and camping in general. I do as well, but I am one of the last people you would expect to be camping. I made these because I wanted to use the mini-blow torch we received for our wedding (yes, we asked for one!). I had a few problems with it, but that was just me being silly. Overall, I really enjoyed the cupcakes and would make them again.

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Chocolate Truffles and Tempering

I have made fake chocolate truffles before and thought I was super awesome. This time around, I wanted to make something special for my husband, so it needed to be the real deal.

Chocolate truffles coated with tempered chocolate…without losing your temper. Once you learn how to temper chocolate, you can use it to coat other things, too. Tempering is nice because it is what gives your candies a snap when you bite into them, it keeps longer at room temperature, it looks prettier (shiny and smooth!), and it’s not super hard. I recommend it when you are making candies. I don’t think you need to do it all of the time with chocolate, but it’s great for truffles.

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Apple Cider

Growing up in Maryland, October meant time for picking apples. We would go as a family on a weekend to one of the U-pick places nearby. I loved going by all of the different kinds of trees trying to see which ones were our favorites. I remember really wanting to like the Red Delicious ones because they were so bright and pretty, but their flavor wasn’t what I wanted. Instead, my family usually preferred the wine sap/braeburn/stayman varieties. Depending on the farm, we could also pick out our pumpkins for carving after going on a short hayride.

I also always looked forward to apple cider that the places would usually have for you to try. They would have the warm, spiced ones, but my favorite has always been the chilled plain cider. We watched videos of how they would make it and could even see it happening in some of the places. I thought it was some magical task that had to be done by fancy machines. Little did I know that you could make it at home!

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Kung Pao Chicken

This recipe is from a cookbook I was super excited to receive a couple years ago. It is called “Food of China” with recipes by Deh-Ta Hsiung and Nina Simonds. My husband may have some family recipes, but it’s nice to have written versions to compare to his memory. This particular dish is not like anything his parents make because it’s from a different region of China, but it was definitely a hit with us!

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Pie Crust for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I wanted something chocolatey in the house after making tons of non-chocolate scones and having run out of brownies. After browsing my bookmarks, I found what I was looking for–a chocolate chip cookie pie. I had to start by making a pie crust, so I used this recipe from Faux Martha.

This was only my second pie crust ever, so I tried to follow the recipe faithfully. This recipe makes two crusts. Don’t be like me–I didn’t know what to do with the other one and waited too long so I had to toss the second one. I found out later that you should pretend like you’re making the second crust into a pie (press it into a pan then freeze it so it will be ready when you need it).

The recipe was pretty easy and I liked the end result. The filling was also tasty! I think next time I might prebake the crust slightly (maybe 5 minutes) and then fill it. It seemed like the bottom could have been a little more crisp/browned.

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