by Elizabeth on July 31, 2013

First of all, happy 24th birthday to my sister!!! And happy 3rd birthday to my niece! I can’t wait for the celebrations! Before I share a delicious recipe with you guys, I wanted to tell you all about a fun program I participated in this month!

If you are familiar with Lindsay’s blog, The Lean Green Bean, she put together a fun exchange called Foodie Pen Pals.

Every month after signing up, you are paired up with either another blogger or a reader and you put together a box of foodie items ($15 limit) to send them. Someone else is also preparing a box for you! My partner Michele sent me some awesome goodies from Williams Sonoma and I am now in search for some new recipes I can use them in. I will post recipes as I make them. Again, you don’t have to be a blogger to get in on the action and you can sign up here to participate in August.

Here are the goodies I received!

Thanks Michele!

Backing up to Monday night, I made a Quinoa Black Bean Casserole that turned out amazing! It also had sweet potatoes and salsa in it. I was a little wary reading the recipe that those foods wouldn’t pair well together but the sweet/savory combination was incredible. Noah had two bowls and asked for more and Joe loved it too! I halved this recipe and we still had leftovers. The only things I changed were adding generous amounts of red pepper and garlic salt and cooking it for twenty minutes instead of ten. I think the fact that I was also making my mother in law’s birthday cake at the same time was the reason it took longer.

Last night was my mother in law’s birthday celebration (told you there was lots of cake in my future). Here was my contribution:

I actually found a recipe on Pinterest on how to make any boxed cake take like it’s from a bakery. It really worked!!


1. What’s the best recipe you’ve tried lately? 

2. Where do you get most of your recipe ideas from?

3. What are your plans for this last day of JULY!?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren @ Everyday Lauren July 31, 2013 at 6:21 am

I’m soooooo excited! I am doing my first month of Foodie Pen Pals in August!!!!!

xo Lauren


2 char eats greens July 31, 2013 at 6:29 am

It’s my brother’s birthday today too!! The best recipe I’ve made lately is I don’t even know. How sad is that!! I’m hoping to find a good dessert recipe today because I need a new dessert option (I know, what a hard life, eh?!?). My sweet tooth is getting bored of all the desserts we’ve been keeping on rotation lately! haha
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3 Amanda @ .running with spoons. July 31, 2013 at 6:41 am

I missed out on Foodie Penpals last month because of all the other things going on, but I’ll definitely be signing up next month… Such a perfect way to get introduced to new foods that you might not otherwise try. And I’m going to say that I get most of my recipe inspiration from blogs. I always see cookbooks in the store and get tempted to pick them up, but then it’s like… eeeeehhhh you can find all this stuff online, so why bother :lol:
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4 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run July 31, 2013 at 6:59 am

mmmm that cake still looks amazing. So does the casserole! You are so good at this!
Last day of July will be work out, Job #1, apartment hunting, Job #2, bed.
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5 Debbie @ DebRuns July 31, 2013 at 7:07 am

I made fish tacos last night, and got the general idea from another blogger (Purple Giraffe). I thought they were really good, but they weren’t a hit with my son who LOVES fish tacos… Bummer!
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6 Amy @ Long Drive Journey July 31, 2013 at 7:27 am

That casserole actually looks really good! I hate black beans, but I might try to make it using some substitutions. I love quinoa. Best recipe I’ve tried lately would have to be kale mac and cheese. It’s not hard by any means, but you make everything from scratch (even the sauce) and it tastes delicious.

I get most of my recipe ideas online.
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7 Lindsey @ OneMotherofaDay July 31, 2013 at 7:50 am

I have heard about the Foodie Pen Pals and have really contemplated joining. That cake looks really delicious! I made a breakfast meatza (paleo) Monday night and it turned out really good. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I get majority of my recipes/meal ideas from my paleo cookbooks and pinterest! Plans for last day of July consist of going to my mom-fitness group this morning and make dinner and clean the house (maybe?).
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8 Jojo July 31, 2013 at 9:00 am

Ooh I’ve never heard about Foodie Pen Pals before. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to look into it!

I get most of my recipes ideas online, just browsing blogs, Serious Eats, Pinterest, Tastespotting, etc.
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9 Michaela | July 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

Such a fun box! I’d have lots of fun using those seasonings and jams. And that casserole sounds delicious, I should give that a try because I love quinoa :)
Michaela | recently posted…July Foodie Pen Pals Reveal DayMy Profile


10 Brooke July 31, 2013 at 9:37 am

Thanks for the recipe! I think S will love it too! Is it hard to shred sweet potatoes? I have never done that… Did u microwave the sweet potato some to make it softer before shredding? Last day of July will be spent getting ready for our zoo trip Tom!!!


11 Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Yes!! It was fully soft and cooked and I basically just mashed it.


12 Amy @ Run Mom Run July 31, 2013 at 9:56 am

I am scared of pinterest! Bizarre I know, but I am.

My running buddy has done that food swap a few times and loves it. I am too chicken! I don’t eat very interesting food and have no idea what I’d send them!

That lasagna looks delicious! I think I’ll have to try it!
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13 Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Not bizarre at all. I used to totally avoid it because it was so overwhelming!


14 Liz @ The Girl on Fire Now July 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

That cake looks amazing!
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15 Wendy@ All Kinds of Miles July 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm

That casserole looks so good! Is it ever difficult to get your husband on board with meatless dinners? Just curious, since I have a boyfriend who feels like a meal isn’t complete without meat!


16 Elizabeth July 31, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Honestly, I usually always include meat in our dinner. He didn’t even notice it didn’t have meat (probably because of the cheese…) but I did end up telling him and he didn’t mind. It could be used as a side dish with chicken or fish :-)


17 Jenn July 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I am definitely going to have to try that black bean casserole it looks amazing! what a great idea for the foodie pen pals! :)
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18 Jen Floyd @ milesandblessings July 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Ahhhhhhh!!! I want to sign up!!! That looks like so much fun. I love sending things…and getting things in the mail fo rthat matter :) .
I get most of my recipes online..pinterest to be exact :) …some from friends too.
The best thing I made was apple brownies…I am going to put the recipe on my blog this week!
I can’t believe it is the end of July!!!!! Why does summer always go by so fast!!!!
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19 Sarah @ A Refining Adventure July 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

That black bean quinoa casserole sounds SO good! I know what you mean about the sweet/spicy combo. I recently made roasted sweet potatoes and sprinkled chili powder and cumin on them via a recipe I found on pinterest…I was VERY skeptical. But they were SO good…I’ll doubt if I’ll ever do them another way!

I get most of my recipe ideas from blogs/pinterest/recipes from childhood that I change up. I have a hard time leaving a recipe alone. I always seep to somehow add/subtract/change something. That’s what makes cooking fun though, I guess.
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20 Laura @losingrace July 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I get my recipies from everywhere….I don’t think one place more than another.

I made a really yummy sugar free chocolate cake recipie a few weeks ago and it was amazing!
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21 Sandy H. August 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Mmm Foodie exchange sounds awesome! I definitely want to sign up.

Let us know what you do with all those ingredients. :)


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