Midwestern Bite Foodie Pen Pals Soda Sauce Titled RW

Hello internet friends!

If you’re new here, let me fill you in on a not-so-secret secret,  The last day of the month on Midwestern Bite pretty much always means Foodie Pen Pals and the Chopped Challenge.  It’s my blogging claim to fame.  I love it.  My readers love it (at least Aly seems to like it anyway.)  The Husband who gets to eat what I concoct loves it.  He was especially fond of the brownie challenge.  The ice cream challenge ranked pretty high on his list too (even despite the giant plastic rat I posed it with.)  Oh, and Big Balls . . . cause it was funny and he got to pose for some hilarious pictures.  Wait.  No.  The really funny pictures of him, blindfolded, were in the caramel apple butter challenge.

I’ve clearly been doing this awhile.  In fact, you could even say I’m an expert.  The fact I’m the only one who does the Chopped Challenge at all is irrelevant to my expert status.

Here’s the Haps.  The Lean Green Bean organizes a cool program called Foodie Pen Pals.  You sign up and get matched with two other pen pals, one who you sends you a fifteen dollar foodie box… and one that will receive a foodie box you send.  That way you meet two new foodie friends per month.  My twist since I started the program over a year ago has been to take the entire box of random goodies I receive and create a recipe from it.

Yes, the entire box.

Yes, last month I totally combined dried mushrooms, chocolate, mint and coconut.  And it was totally tasty.

This month’s Chopped Challenge is actually from a box I received late a few months back.  I sorta forgot to sign up for the program in May.  Whooops.  I won’t make that mistake in June.  Luckily I had the late box from February to fall back on so I didn’t disappoint you all today.

Here’s what I received:

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Craisins  –  Turns out my toddler LOVES these!  I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for FPP.

Rice  –  We love rice and still have plenty leftover.  Great flavor, needs a pinch of salt.

Monster Mucus  –  This was a fun item to receive!  I never buy soda so it was a welcome indulgence.  It had a sweet berry / grape flavor.

Fall Harvest Seasoning  –  Great on chicken so far!  And this container is huuuuuge so it’ll last a good long while.

Trail Mix  –  Craisins.  Raisins.  Nuts.  Seeds.  Tasty.

Gummy Fruit Snacks  –  Another fun one.  I probably should have shared with the toddler.  I did not.  Good thing he can’t read yet so he’ll never know.

Vermints – Something else I never buy and was happy to receive.

This post is dragging on long enough and I have more than a dozen pictures to get through so let’s get on with it.  What exactly did I do with this hodgepodge of food?

I made dinner.  Seasoned chicken tenders with a soda dipping sauce, raisiny craisiny rice topped with seeds and toasted nuts and garnished with fresh mint.

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Let’s start with the dipping sauce because that’s really the best part here.  I’m calling it Soda Sauce.  Because the soda is the star.

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Soda Sauce


1/2 cup Monster Mucus soda (or grape soda)

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon tomato preserves (or fruit jelly)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

A few shakes of black pepper

1 individual pack Mott’s Medleys Gummy Fruit Snacks (let’s be honest . . . if you’re making this recipe at home you can probably leave this out and still get great results)

This sauce is simple.  Oh so simple.  Mix up all the ingredients in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat ’til thick, smooth and sticky, stirring often.  Yup, the fruit snacks will completely dissolve, helping to create a sticky sauce perfect for dipping.

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It’s mildly sweet with just a little tang and a bit like BBQ, but better.  This batch made enough for three adult meals so don’t hesitate to double it when you make it at home.

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The chicken tenders were easy.  Sprinkle with seasoning blend.  Saute in olive oil, flipping once, ’til cooked and browned.  Easy.

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Alright, let’s talk rice.  First things first, ya gotta separate the trail mix into fruit, nuts and seeds.  Reserve the nuts and seeds for later.  Add in some extra Craisins to make a total of 1/4 cup dried fruit.

Raisiny Craisiny Rice


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup Flavor Ready Rice

1/4 cup dried fruit, raisins and Craisins

2 cups water

A few shakes of salt

Fresh mint for garnish

The rice was easy too.  Warm the olive oil in a medium sauce pan.  Add the rice and stir for a minute or two.  Add in the dried fruit and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently for 30 minutes.  For more authentic Risotto style rice, add the liquid in batches and stir stir stir.  I had a wiggly toddler so I just dumped it all together at once.  It was still great with the perfect ricey texture.  Yes, ricey is a word.  I just made it up.  It’s my blog and I can make up words if I want to.

The additional ingredients for this flavor ready rice were garlic, mushrooms and shallots so plan accordingly if you want to recreate the flavor profile at home.

Garnish with fresh mint.  I’ll admit I took some create license in incorporating the Vermints into this meal.  I recreated the mint flavor with real mint leaves from our yard and we snacked on a few actual Vermints after dinner for, well, after dinner mints.

Po-ta-to.  Po-tah-to.

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Soda Sauce.  Seasoned chicken.  Raisiny Craisiny Rice.

Toast the nuts reserved from the trail mix pouch.  Sprinkle atop the rice along with the reserved seeds.

All together now.

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Served with the leftover soda of course.

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I hope you’ll make this recipe at home and dig in!

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To check out my previous Chopped Challenges click here for my Foodie Pen Pals page.

– Joanna

P.S.  If you’re only here because you are obsessed with how my wallpaper stripping project is going . . . well, you’re crazier than I am.  But I’ll be your enabler and share my progress like a good little accountable blogger.


May 29 RW 3

Today.  Woot.  Woot.  Woot-ish.  Eh.  Progress is progress, no matter how small.

May 30 RW

P.P.S.  I’m linking this post up with The Lean Green Bean for her monthly Foodie Pen Pals reveal.  Click here to see more.

P.P.P.S.  If you want to join in on the Snap To It photography challenge, this weeks’s assignment is about aperture and bokeh.  Click here to learn more from Cinnamon at Eat Pray Tri.

Question of the Day: Have you ever tried jelly in BBQ sauce?  It’s frackingtastic.  



  1. I love the Chopped Challenge idea w/FPP, but will admit some concern when I saw Vermints in the mix. Nice job working around those 😉

  2. Love what you did! The monster mucus was incredibly intriguing!!! Glad you added a little twist to it! 🙂

  3. What a fun idea- and such an amazing meal that you made out of all of those products. I’ll have to keep this challenge in mind for next month’s box.

  4. hold the phone: there is soda called “monster mucus”?

  5. so so so loving the soda pictures. They are making me thirsty. Also, I HAVE had jelly in BBQ sauce but I think the one I had, had a little TOO much. Too sweet for my taste. I think in that case less would have been more. I love the concept of it though. Sweet and Spicy. mmm mmmm

    • I was a fan of the soda pictures myself. I “almost” reused one for Snap To It but I really wanted to take a new picture. And of course soda is hardly a bouquet of flowers and I was already committed to a bouquet of flowers.

  6. This meal looks great! Monster Mucus is a terrible name for a soda though. I’m not so sure I could drink it even with the delicious flavor of grape! What spices are in the harvest seasoning?

    Good luck with the wallpaper removal!

    • It took me almost a week to come up with the answer to your question . . . turns out the toddler had, well, toddled off with the Harvest Seasoning. I found it in the toy bin. Silly child. Maybe he’s going to be a chef someday? Or a food blogger? ? Anyway, the seasoning is onion, garlic, pepper, assorted spices, citric acid, lemon oil, and vegetable oil. Isn’t it lovely when the ingredients for a spice blend are “assorted spices”? Descriptive.

      • haha cute! Get him started on cooking or blogging! Assorted spices?? Who would have guessed that there would be assorted spices in a spice mix? Definitely extremely descriptive and helpful.

  7. You are so amazing with pairing flavors and using random ingredients!! I am impressed every month. So fun. 🙂

  8. Loving your pics as usual, especially the one of the pop from the top (us Canadians say pop instead of soda – great way to trip us up if you’re ever concerned there may be a Canuck spy in your midst). I’ve made coke BBQ sauce before, but I may just make it grape next time to change things up!

    • No worries Ann, you’re safely in “pop” country here as well.

    • Yup, I say “pop” too. I just thought soda sauce sounded better than pop sauce. Pop sauce sounds like a bad teeny bopper band. How do they say teeny bopper in Canada?

  9. Wow! so many great recipes herrrrrrrrrrrr! Mmm Mm!