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Food & Drink Quiz Friday #1

Food and Drink Quiz Friday No.1
This food has the fifth basic taste called umami and is one of the very few plant sources of Vitamin D.

Join me every week for my new feature, Food & Drink Quiz Friday. I've always been a trivia buff, so this is a way for me to have fun and flex my brain muscles alongside all of you. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

If you have a great food or drink related trivia question that you'd like me to feature, send me an email with the words "Food and Drink Quiz Friday" in the subject line to girlichef@yahoo.com!

Warm Farro and Quinoa Breakfast Bowls #VillageHarvestInspired

Warm Farro Breakfast Bowl
I was raised on that familiar old adage telling us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The same way that my parents made sure I knew it, I make sure my kids know it. I'm a firm believer that you just can't concentrate on an empty stomach—especially when it's grumbling out loud. I don't think that breakfast always has to be the same thing. One day you may want bacon, eggs, and toast...the next day you may need a waffle more than life itself...and the next you might be in the mood for some yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit.

And since the list of breakfast possibilities is endless, you don't have to get bored. One of my favorite meals on a cooler (or downright freezing) days was a bowl of warm oatmeal. While some may consider oatmeal boring, I tend to disagree. It's a neutral palate just waiting to be dressed up. But if I still can't convince you of that, how about a different kind of warm porridge to start your day? Today I'm partnering with Village Harvest to tell you how to make a nourishing bowl to start your day right! Village Harvest Rice & Grains make it easy to stay on track and keep a healthy lifestyle in the new year and beyond with their natural, unprocessed rice and grains.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu
This month's Progressive Eats menu takes a stroll down memory lane from each of its contributors. Lana from Never Enough Thyme challenged us to cook up a bit of nostalgia and comfort food from our childhood. At first I wasn't sure which way to go since I've already made so many of my childhood favorites like Chicken a la King, Chicken Corn Chowder, Chicken Pot Pie, and Chicken Noodle Soup. But then I remembered something that I hadn't shared yet that holds a special place in my heart—Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I guess I didn't realize it before now, but there seems to be a theme to some of my favorite childhood foods. I was going to suggest that chicken was easy to come by back then until I realized that a couple of those dishes actually originated from a can. But not this one. Chicken roll-up night was always a favorite in our house, and us kids were always tasked with pounding out the chicken breasts as thin as we could get them without ripping them (much).

iPad Mini + Kate Spade Keyboard Folio #Giveaway!

Awesome iPad and Kate Spade Giveaway!

Hey guys! I'm so excited to be teaming up with Angie from My So-Called Chaos and some other fabulous bloggers to bring you another SERIOUSLY AWESOME GIVEAWAY! This month, one lucky winner will get an iPad Mini and a Kate Spade Cedar Street Keyboard Folio. Like, woah.

Life and Death + Twilight | Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge

Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge: Life and Death and Twilight
I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was going to be throwing a few bookish extras onto the blog from time to time this year. One of those extras is joining Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles in her monthly (if I can muster) "Vampire Book and a Movie" challenge. As the name suggests, she'll be picking a book and movie that are vampire-themed and somehow connected to read, watch, and discuss. This inaugural month kicked off with Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (book) and Twilight (movie).

The reimagining comes in the form of opposite day. The vast majority of the characters from Twilight were turned into the opposite sex in this book - the main exceptions being Charlie and Renee.  Stephenie Meyer explains the "why" in her introduction to the story (which you should not skip since it lays the foundation for what you're about to read).

Creamy Charred Tomato Soup

This post was sponsored by Better Bakery. All opinions are my own.
Creamy Charred Tomato Soup
When I say soup, you sandwich. Soup. SANDWICH! Soup. SANDWICH! Please tell me you acted that out as you read it. I can't be the only one who chanted loudly and pumped my arm in the air. Right? Well, even if I was the only one, I know tons of people who will agree with me when I say that soup and a sandwich as the perfect partners.

Growing up, both of my parents would crank open a can of soup and heat it up on the stove while they made a line of sandwiches. I've always loved dunking my way through a crisp-on-the-outside, melty-on-the-inside grilled cheese. But my dad also loved making BLT's featuring thick-cut bacon and homemade mayonnaise, double-decker Club Sandwiches that I could barely fit in my mouth, and tall Reubens that stunk up the house in the best way possible. While I'd happily eat any of these sandwiches by themselves, having a cup of soup on the side just makes the meal seem complete.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
Here's a little not-so-secret fact about me - I love clam chowder. You may even know that the very first recipe I ever posted on my blog was Manhattan Clam Chowder. Last year I did an updated recipe and post about it around my 6-year blogging anniversary. I've also shared a recipe for Rhode Island Clam Chowder. But, believe it or not, this is actually the first time I'm sharing a recipe for the classic, creamy New England version that everybody seems to think of first when they hear the words clam chowder.

Now, don't hate me New Englanders, but Manhattan is actually my favorite kind (and I can't stand the Patriots). I do enjoy the rich white chowder from time to time, though. I think I might have mentioned going on a quest to try as many types of clam chowder as I could get my hands on last year. But I must have forgotten about it, because I never did it. Maybe this will be my year.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Thank you to Meijer for sending me a box of essential health products to kick-start my health, fitness, and diet goals in the new year! All opinions shared in this post are my own.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars
Well friends, we are officially into the third week of 2016. I meant to share this post with you in the first week, but this year started off very rough for my family. It's not something that I'm ready to talk about yet, but I will be soon. So, I apologize for starting the year a couple of weeks late.

Tell me, did you make any resolutions or set any goals for yourself this year? I've never been big on resolutions, since any I set seemed like things I should always be striving for anyway. So, I tend to call them goals instead. But really, I guess they're just the same thing—changes, improvements, and things I want to accomplish going forward. One foot in front of the other seemed like a good place to start recently.

Champagne Jelly inspired by Failure to Launch | #FoodnFlix

Champagne Jelly
Champagne Jelly inspired by Failure to Launch | #FoodnFlix

Kit: Hey...Paula...good news. It's Champagne Thursday.
Paula: It's Friday.
Kit: Uh, yeah. Thursday came twice this week.

So I'm totally giving my inspiration away early this month...but really that's only part of it (the main part, but still). If you're familiar with Champagne Thursday, that means you're familiar with Failure to Launch, our Food 'n Flix pick to kick of 2016. I couldn't think of a better way to kick off a new year since Champagne (or a least sparkling wine) and new year's celebrations go hand in hand.

I'd seen Failure to Launch a few times already, once when it first came out on dvd and again in bits and parts when it's been on tv. But I don't remember ever noticing just how much food is actually in this flick, starting with the opening sequence when our lead male Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) staggers out of bed and onto the Santitas Tortilla Chip bag on his bedroom floor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In case you haven't actually seen this one, in a nutshell, it is a rom-com about 30-something Tripp who still lives at home with his parents, who, in a push to regain a little "them" time again, hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), who makes a living of covertly enticing grown men to move out of their parents homes, to help them.

Acharuli Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese and Egg Bread)

Acharuli Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese and Egg Bread)
I'm incredibly intrigued by this month's Bread Baking Babes featured bread. Aparna is our host kitchen of the month, and she has chosen Acharuli (Adjaruli) Khachapuri, or Georgian Egg and Cheese Bread. Apparently Khachapuri, described as a "warm, gooey cheese-stuffed bread that oozes and drips with heart-stopping goodness" by the website Gudaturi, is one of the most popular dishes in Georgia. Apparently each reason is famous for a different variety of this bread. The The boat-shaped Adzharuli that is filled with salty cheese and topped with a raw egg and butter hails from the southwestern Adzharian province.

I made this very last-minute and didn't use the correct (traditional) type of cheese. Not that I could easily get my hands on a soft sheep's milk variety, but Saveur uses a mix of Muenster and Feta that looks like it might be a fairly good substitute. I actually thought that I still had some feta around, and was going to mix it with mozzarella...but apparently it was eaten sometime between when I made the bread and the last time I looked. So I had to improvise. I used mozzarella and Parmesan instead. It was good, but it didn't give me that soft gooey filling.

Slow Cooker Posole Verde

Slow Cooker Posole Verde
I'm so excited to be kicking off another year of cooking virtually alongside my friend Leslie from La Cocina de Leslie for what we affectionately call She Made, Ella Hace! Although we try to get together every month, sometimes we blink and it's been longer, but we've managed to connect almost every month for 4 1/2 years...and that makes me smile. Since January happens to be National Soup Month, Leslie suggested that we kick 2016 off with soup. This girl loves soup more than most other things, so I said yes!

But do you know what's funny? And this has happened more than once. We both wound up making the SAME kind of soup. We didn't consult ahead of time. We didn't choose a type of soup or theme for the soup. Yet still, out of the thousands (at least) types of soup we could have simmered up in our kitchens today, we both wound up with a pot of Posole (pozole) Verde! Great minds, I tell you...great minds.

Indian-Spiced Red Lentil and Veggie Soup

Indian-Spiced Red Lentil and Veggie Soup
If you like going behind the scenes and joining in the kitchen nitty-gritty, you'll want to check out the new online "cook along" called Cook the Book with Denise and Jenni. If you've been hanging around here for any number of years, you may think this sounds familiar. That's because the name is similar to the club I've been participating in (and hosted for a couple of years) since 2009 called Cook the Books (there's an "s" on the end of that one). But they are different.

Cook the Books is a bi-monthly book club in which we read a "foodie book" and then head into our kitchens to cook something inspired by it, then the food is all rounded up on the website for everybody to enjoy together. Cook the Book is a monthly meet-up in which the recipe (or maybe more than one recipe) is featured and cooked together while streaming online. So, similar names, but each unique unto itself.

Simple Loose Leaf - a subscription box for tea drinkers!

Simple Loose Leaf - a subscription box for tea drinkers!
Simple Loose Leaf is like having a personal tea sommelier—it's the perfect partner in your pursuit for a healthier and happier you (or so I hear)! How does it work? Well, each month a box containing 4 to 5 loose leaf teas, 2 reusable muslin tea bags and a beautiful card detailing your month's tea selection is shipped right to your door for just $17. After you've tried the tea, you can order your favorites and more from their store with a 50% member's only discount.

I'll be trying this service out over the next few months and will report back with my thoughts on the service and the products - stay tuned! Until then, Simple Loose Leaf is offering my readers a
25% off of a gift membership or ongoing subscription signup by entering code 25HOLIDAY when ordering from their website, so visit Simple Loose Leaf to place your order today!

Follow the Pie Rules of Conduct, an excerpt from The Big Bucket List Book

The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime by Gin Sander

The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime

author: Gin Sander
publisher: Sourcebooks
soft cover: 231 pages

"foodie" read: No, but there are some fun experience ideas for the foodies including a whole section titled "Thrill Your Taste Buds: Food and Wine"!

teaser (from back cover): Everyone has a daunting "bucket list" of things to complete before they die. The problem? We spend too much time creating lists of wat we want to achieve instead of just doing it.

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese w/ Prosciutto & Leeks inspired by The Big Chili

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto and Leeks
One of my favorite types of books to read are cozy mysteries (or cozies). Although I've enjoyed almost every cozy I've read, I tend to gravitate towards the foodcentric ones. Weird, huh?  I credit Diane Mott Davidson and her Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series for introducing me to the genre. A few more of my favorite culinary cozy series are the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke, the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle, the Wine Country Mysteries by Ellen Crosby, the Savannah Reid Mysteries by G.A. McKevett, and the Gourmet Girl Mysteries by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant. I also enjoy the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries by Jane Cleland, but they are't culinary centered.

Obviously I love the foodie-type ones. I mean, have you read the title of my site? Anything that combines two of my favorite things (food and books) is a-ok in my book...did you catch my post about joining the Foodies Read Challenge this year? Well, as a part of that, I'm hoping to introduce you to even more reads for you or the foodie in your life over the course of 2016.

The Restaurant Critic's Wife | Book Tour

The Restaurant Critic's Wife Book Tour Stop
what to sip while reading: Malibu and Pineapple
what to eat while reading: Walnut Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Are there people who don't wonder how their lives ended up the way they did? Perhaps there are. But I'm not one of them. And neither is Lila Soto. Not too long ago, she was on top of her game; commitment and thoughts of settling down took a backseat to her career. Now she's home with a newborn, a three year old, and a career that's been put on hold. She craves adult conversation, a creative outlet, and the ability to find her way back to who she is again. Fortunately she eats well since she's married to a restaurant critic, but his quest to remain anonymous in their new city often manages to squash the joy in that, as well.

If you're a mom, you've probably felt most of what Lila's feeling now at some point. A sleep deprived body and mind never benefit deep contemplation on "what could have been". Most of this book deals with Lila's feelings and how she's trying to find her way out of them. Fortunately it's not in vain, as she is able to work them and come to a happy place where her old self and her new self meet and combine.

This Year I'm Going to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks | My Challenge Log

Read My Own Damn Books Challenge 2016
Being a gastronome and a bibliophile can be dangerous to one's living space. Stacks of books piled precariously on tables and floors, shelves sagging under the weight of "too many" books, plastic storage tubs so heavy that it takes all your might just to scoot them a few inches either way...yeah, it's like that. And while many of these books are beloved favorites that I'd never be able to part with, I'm guessing that at least 1/3 of them are ones that I haven't gotten around to reading yet.

I tend to save certain books to read later because they're mine. "Oh, I'll just read this review book or this library book or this new release in a favorite series first. That's mine, so I can get to it any time." Only I rarely do. So I've decided that I need to crack those perfect spines and get to reading. This way, I can start clearing out our already small living space. If I read it and love it, I will keep it. If not, I will pass it on to somebody who I think will love it, I'll donate it, or I'll add it to my paperback swap shelf.

'Karma Effect' Upcycled Carafe and Glasses, a NOVICA review

Karma Effect Upcycled Carafe and Glasses
I have a thing for recycled glass water carafes—I always have. The funkier and more original, the better. Which brings me to the one you see featured here today. When I shared my thoughts and past experience shopping at the online global retailer NOVICA in November, I mentioned that I'd be back with a review of another of their beautiful handcrafted products. After much browsing and saving of items, I decided that this fun Recycled glass carafe and glasses set titled 'Karma Effect' was what I needed in my life right now.

The carafe and drinking glasses are crafted by upcycling sparkling water bottles that would otherwise pollute Bali. The artist/shop that it comes from within NOVICA is Peduli Bali, or Bali Recycling, founded by Olivier Pouillon (born and raised in Washington D.C.) and his Indonesian business partners. As a firm believer in karma, the names etched into the set and fact that contributing to the preservation of the environment were a big factor in my choice.