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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Apple-Cheese Spread

Apple-Cheese Spread
Welcome to the September edition of Progressive Eats. Today our menu celebrates the diversity of apples! I know I've mentioned once or fifteen times before, so I will refrain from reciting my fond memories of apple picking in the crisp fall air. But I do love me some apples.

I've already dipped into the apple tree a few times this season, sharing a couple of desserts like Fried Apple Hand Pies and Whiskey Caramel Apple Pie, a savory Tangled Apple, Pistachio, and Golden Raisin Salad, and even an apple-infused drink with my Apple Pie Hot Toddy. So yeah, I'm not afraid to use ALLTHEAPPLES!

I've got another savory dish for you today—a simple spread, actually. It's great for munching on with crackers or toast while you're watching a game or reading a book, but I also think it would be the perfect appetizer addition to your Thanksgiving menu. The sweet, rich caramelized shallots in sherry are really the key to highlighting the flavor of the apples, so don't skip that step.
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Get Lost in the Shipshewana Corn Maze!

Get lost in the Shipshewana Corn Maze. Family fun in Indiana!
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I think part of that has to do with growing up in the midwest. There's a moment when the thick oppressive summer heat gives way to the crisp, cool fall air; one deep breath and all is right with the world again. It also means the start of some of my favorite things—football, apple picking, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and corn mazes. I love that each of these activities is family-friendly and that they can be found within a short distance of home here in northwestern Indiana.

This past Friday after my two youngest got home from school, we all jumped in the car, excited to spend the evening at the Shipshewana Corn Maze. Shipshewana, located in the heart of Northern Indiana Amish Country, lies about 45 miles east of South Bend and about 55 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Even though its population is just under 700, the charming streets of Shipshewana always seem to be bustling with excitement. But more on that another day, today I'm going to focus on the corn maze itself.
Friday, September 25, 2015

"Borrow Your Man" Beef and Beer Pie inspired by Waitress #FoodnFlix

Borrow Your Man Beef and Beer Pie inspired by Waitress
This month marks the 5-year anniversary of the Food 'n Flix Club! Normally we all watch the same movie during a month, but I thought a fun way to celebrate would be to invite participants to choose their flick from any of the 60 movies we've already watched over the years. This could be a tough choice if you let it because your mind can go in so many different directions. But to be honest, I pretty much knew what movie I was going to pick from the get-go. I wavered a couple of times, but wound up watching Waitress again, as originally planned.

We originally watched Waitress back in December of 2010, and the first time around I made this "The Holidays are Making me NUTS" Pie. If you're not familiar with Waitress, it's the story of Jenna, a waitress in a small town who's stuck in a bad marriage to the handsome but mental and mean Earl. When she finds out she's pregnant, she only sees that as another thing holding her down. She's pretty miserable and unlikeable, but somehow, I still find myself rooting for her.

Not only is she a waitress at Joe's Pie Diner, she's also a masterful maker of pie. So, being the pie whore that I am, you can probably guess why I chose this one. Jenna expresses her feelings through her pies, combining fitting ingredients to her current situation or state of mind. Some examples are "Falling in Love Chocoalte Mousse" Pie, "I Hate My Husband" Pie, "Baby Screaming its Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruinin' My Life" Pie, and "Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser" Pie.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thai Iced Coffee, inspired by Come Away With Me

Thai Iced Coffee, inspired by Come Away With Me
There's really only one thing that I didn't like about this book. It had nothing to do with the story, characters, or even the cover design—it was the particular review blurb they chose to highlight on the front cover. It says "Fans of Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT PRAY LOVE will flock to this novel." Well guess what? I was not a fan of EPL (the novel...the movie was just okay for me), so had I seen that before I read it, I may have cracked the cover a little less enthusiastically. Fortunately, I had an ARC, so I wasn't influenced by that little sentence, as  innocuous as it may seem. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the book itself, though.

I will admit that it is similar to EPL in that it deals with loss and heartbreak while transporting us to three beautiful locations through food and travel. But I enjoyed Brown's voice so much more than Gilbert's. Raw, emotional, and visceral, it wrenched my heart and filled my eyes with tears, and even made me chuckle out loud a few times.

From Chicago to Thailand to Italy to Hawaii...and back to Chicago again, this was a journey that I enjoyed taking. Growing up so close to Chicago, I could easily slide myself into the story and fold myself into Tegan and Gabe's luggage as they experienced loss, pain, grief, possibility, and love in this story about survival. Without giving any spoilers, I'll tell you that there's also a twist that you may or may not see coming.
Friday, September 18, 2015

Family Fun at the Shipshewana Indiana Corn Maze + $1 coupon!

Shipshewana Corn Maze - Shipshewana, Indiana
Shipshewana Corn Maze
Looking for some place in Indiana where the whole family can have fun in a safe and relaxing environment? Check out the Shipshewana Indiana Corn Maze, located in the downtown area of Shipshewana, home to lots of good restaurants, 16 historical murals, and 100 shops. The maze is good, quality fun that also gives the next generation an understanding about how corn is grown and used in our food today.

The unique design and idea of the corn maze came about after the owners were discussing area events and attractions at a family gathering. After a little research, they found Mazeplay, a company which has designed many mazes across the country so that thousands of people can enjoy them every year.
Friday, September 11, 2015

Sloppy Totchos

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Manwich. All opinions are 100% mine.
Sloppy Totchos
Growing up, I always looked forward to Sloppy Joe night at the dinner table. Whenever I saw a couple pounds of ground beef on the counter next to a couple of cans of Manwich, my stomach started to growl. Not only did all of us kids actually like them (which can be a rarity with any more than one child, let alone four), they were also fun to eat. I mean, what kid doesn't enjoy getting a little messy? We almost always had potato chips alongside them, and I would scoop up all of the meat that escaped the bun with my chips to finish it.

Who am I kidding? I still do that today. Back then, we always ate them as a sandwich. Or should I say a meal? (You know, because "a sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal".) Never really thought to eat them any other way. And honestly, that's the way I serve them most often to my own kids. There's nothing like covertly making sure that they are entirely present at the meal by making them use both hands. Am I right?
Thursday, September 10, 2015

French Onion Soup inspired by Paris Time Capsule

French Onion Soup
I'm back today with another book tour, this time highlighting the novel originally released in May 2014 by Ella Carey—Paris Time Capsule. By now you probably know that my favorite types of books are those that allow me to get lost in them, to step out of my own head and into the world of the character. I particularly enjoy foodie novels or cozies, stories of travel, chick-lit (think chick-flick in book form), intriguing mysteries, or like this one, a combination of more than one of those genres.

Inspired by an actual apartment that was discovered untouched since the Nazi invasion of Paris, there's a bit of historical fiction in the pages of Paris Time Capsule. When Cat is called to Paris for the reading of a will of someone she never knew, life as she knows it changes. In her search to uncover the past, she learns not only more about the mysterious Isabelle de Florian but also about who she, herself, is and wants.

From Paris to the south of France, there's enough scenery and history in this book to warm any Francophile's heart. I also loved the descriptions of Cat's vintage clothing and style, the oh-which-of-the-two-hot-guys-that-love-me-do-I-choose angle, and the dreaminess of inheriting not only a beautiful old apartment in Paris, but also the prospective fortune that it contains aspect.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fried Apple Hand Pies

Fried Apple Hand Pies
It's the second Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another edition of the Blogger C.L.U.E. Society. This month we rummaged through our assigned blogs looking for recipes featuring fall fruits, and my assigned blog was Kelli's Kitchen. I had such a fun time rummaging through Kelli's blog in search of the perfect thing to make.

On her about page, Kelli says that she learned all the best things in life from her Nana, so I'm pretty darn excited that the recipe I chose to make this month is one that her Nana used to make—small fried apple pies.

These little hand pies remind of the hot apple pies at McDonald's that I loved as a kid and the kind of little pies that slide out of a little cardboard box (that I always hope will be good but never are). The only difference is, these are MILES better than either of those options. Honestly, I couldn't stop eating them. It was a really bad idea for me to make them in the morning when everybody else was off at school and work. I had to force myself to leave the kitchen just to put them out of view.
Monday, September 7, 2015

Apple Pie Hot Toddy inspired by Broken Homes and Gardens

Apple Pie Hot Toddy
Today I'm happy to be hosting a book tour stop for the novel, Broken Homes & Gardens by Rebecca Kelley. If you enjoy chick-lit and rom-com's, I think you'll love spending a day with this book. Seriously, I read this book in a day. It was a fun little reality-escape on a pleasantly cool day we had last week.

Set (mostly) in Porland, Oregon, Broken Homes & Gardens centers around young-twenty-something Joanna who returns to the States after a brief stint teaching English to kids in the Czech Republic. Typical of most people that age (at least the ones I know/knew), she doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life...who she is. She falls in love with the city, gardening, and unexpectedly, a guy named Malcolm.

I loved the fact that the characters in this book are flawed, like every real person alive. They try new things and make wrong choices, and sometimes realize too late what the right choices should have been. I won't give spoilers, but this is a great love story that takes twists and turns, and ultimately concludes with a cliffhanger (hurry up book 2!).
Friday, September 4, 2015

Creole Okra Corn Soup + The Easy Vegan Cookbook blog tour

Creole Okra Corn Soup
Welcome to today's stop on The Easy Vegan Cookbook blog tour! I'm not sure when Kathy Hester finds time to sleep, because every time I turn around, she has another beautiful cookbook being released. If you've spent any time on my blog, you probably know that I'm not a vegan—but that doesn't mean that I don't eat meatless and vegan meals and snacks. And while my husband is very much a meatatarian, over the years I've been able to convince him that even vegan meals can be hearty and satisfying.

This Creole Okra Corn Soup from Kathy's new book totally supports my case. It may not contain any animal products and have a brothy base, but it is packed full of seasonal vegetables and a nice little spice factor (which always wins his heart in the end). A couple of days before I received this book in the mail, my old neighbor dropped more than 6 dozen freshly picked ears of corn at my doorstep. I knew without a doubt that this recipe would be the first I would make from the book.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Celebrating 5 Years of Food 'n Flix! #foodnflix

This month marks the 5-year anniversary of the Food 'n Flix Club. Join us for a celebration of food in film this September!

Five years ago today I announced the very first movie pick for my newly created project called Food 'n Flix. Five years! For a while, I hosted everything right on the Food 'n Flix Club site itself, but after seven months, I announced that Food 'n Flix was going on the road. I wanted to spread the hosting love, and let participants take turns hosting and therefore, selecting the monthly movie we'd watch and cook from.

It's been fantastic five years full of movies, food, drink, new friends, and inspiration! Some months we watch a full-on foodie flick, others months we have to dig a little deeper and put our creative minds to work with a pick that may not seem food-related at first glance. To date, 60 movies have sent us into the kitchen to create an inspired dish and related blog post!

In honor of all the fun we've had since its inception, I thought we'd celebrate with a 5-Year Anniversary/Birthday Bash of epic proportions...aka, there's not one single movie we are watching this month—you can choose from ANY of those previously viewed flicks to create your post!