The end of the month did not sneak up on this challenger.  My September Foodie Pen Pals box sat on the counter and stared me in the face every day for two weeks.  Mocking me.  Taunting me to make an entire dish from its contents..  Teasing me with its salsa and date combo.  I am pretty sure there is no culinary way to pair those two things up.  I found a recipe for Medjool Date Salsa, but let me tell you . . . it did not contain salsa.

Let’s take a peek at the goods this month that came from Esther, a former Midwesterner currently living in DC.

She sent me pitted dates and salsa.  We discussed this already.  Sigh.  As a disclaimer, I did not use these actual dates in my Chopped Challenge.  Of the three items Supermom received in her FPP box, one of them exploded during transit.  So I donated this bag of dates to her.  I already had an open container of dates in my fridge and since Supermom heard dates are supposed to help with labor I figured she could use them way more than me right about now.  The new addition to the Superfamily should be here any day.  Besides, I stole the guacamole chips from the new baby basket I made for her to eat the rest of the yummy salsa so I kinda owed her.  For the record, I love dates and this salsa.  Love love love.  Just not together.  Again, sigh.

Annie’s Rice Shells and Creamy White Cheddar Pasta as well as Cocomama Quinoa Cereal.  Annie’s is perfect to doctor up in a challenge since I find this brand to be too bland to cook as directed on the package.  The Cocomama was quite tasty, especially warmed with a few blueberries.  These would be great to have around for quick and easy meals

Two types of bars and two gluten free cookies.  The Taste of Nature bar was full of sesame seeds and was my favorite of these three.  The Good Bean Bar?  Very unusual texture and flavor, unlike any other bar I’ve tasted.  So glad I had a chance to sample it as this is something I probably would not have picked out on my own.

Sweet and Spicy Tea.  Strong.  Smelled good.  Just like The Husband.  Clearly we both dug this.

Now that you’ve met the soldiers in my food battle, let’s get to war.  War.  Against myself.  For the sixth time.

You’d think I’d stop challenging myself with five consecutive wins under my belt.  I’m a sure thing.

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If I start off every Foodie Pen Pals post with “the end of the month sure sneaks up on a challenger” would any of you notice?

Well it does, it sneaks up.  It sneaks up like The Snoops sneaks up on an opened peanut butter jar and pounces.  But we’ll get to peanut butter later.

First, let me remind you all what it is I do here.  Foodie Pen Pals is my thing, my schtick, my bag baby.  I take the box, the whole box, and amaze you all with my culinary creation.  I do this by ripping off the Food Network show Chopped.

Except there are no other challengers to battle, it’s just me fighting against myself.  I can be very competitive so it’s not as easy a win as you might think.  Don’t get me wrong, I win.  Every time.

Round 1: The Chopped Challenge

Round 2: Mini Meals

Round 3: The Copy Cat Challenge

Round 4: Big Balls

That brings us to Round 5 and Carma.  Yes, Carma not Karma.  Carma is a lovely reader from Ashland, Ohio – Midwest in the house – and she sent me my Foodie Pen Pals Box, my mystery ingredients, my inspiration.

Based on the post card she included I had kinda hoped for cheese, but cheese probably doesn’t travel well in a Midwestern summer.  I don’t know where you all hail from but it gets flippin’ hot here.

Instead I received a bag of sweet potato chips.

Gluten Free Lucy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Seed and Fruit Mix.

Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats and Mango Pineapple Iced Green Tea Mix.

All gluten free.  All delicious.  All opened up and enjoyed well before the competition ever started.  I like to know my ingredients, really know them.  By the time the end of the month snuck up on me I had about a half cup of each left over.  No problem.  I can work with that.

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