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Monday, February 29, 2016

Simple Loose Leaf Subscription Tea Box Review

Simple Loose Leaf Subscription Tea Box Review
Last month I briefly introduced you to Simple Loose Leaf, a monthly subscription box for tea drinkers. I told you that I'd be back with a review once I had the chance to try it out, so as promised - here is that review. With a Simple Loose Leaf membership, each tea box that you receive will include at least 4 different loose leaf teas - a black, a green, an herbal, and a surprise or two, plus 2 reusable muslin tea bags.

Each box also contains a beautifully done card with information about the products in your box. Along with descriptions of each type of tea that you received, it also tells the proper steps for making a cup of loose leaf tea, which I think is important, especially for those less familiar with loose myself. Knowing how much of each tea to use, what temperature the water should be (because it's not the same for all types), and how long to let it steep can be a bit daunting if you've only ever used prefilled tea bags.

Pork Picadillo Bowls

Pork Picadillo Bowls
Isn't it funny how you can cook a certain dish for years without really thinking about its origins? Okay maybe not for everybody, but for me, a girl who has a thing for history, culture, roots, and tradition as they relate to food, it is. For example, I've been making these empanadas for several years now. They are my absolute favorite empanadas in the world and if my stomach (and conscience) would allow, I'd eat an entire batch all by my lonesome.

They have an awesome pastry case that uses not only butter, but also cream cheese, which I just know adds to their perfectly tender and flaky texture. But it's the pork picadillo filling that I just can't get enough of. Okay, so picadillo is actually a dish all on its own...I knew that. But until today, I'd never actually made it to eat any other way than inside an empanada.
Sunday, February 28, 2016

Corn Dodgers inspired by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Corn Dodgers with Maple Apples and Jowl Bacon inspired by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
It's time for another vampire book and a movie challenge, and this month Kimberly has chosen Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for both the book and the movie to discuss. I'd already watched and forgotten the movie when it was first released on dvd. Apparently it wasn't that memorable. So, I figured I'd start from scratch—read the book and then watch the movie again.

What I didn't realize until I had the book in my hands is that it was written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who is also the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...which I read last month and absolutely loved. That was a pleasant surprise. Here's the thing about Grahame-Smith—he's kind of a master at what he does. And whether this says something about the school systems (yes, more than one) that I grew up in or something about me, I'm going to go ahead and put it out there. I learned more about the history of Abraham Lincoln reading this book than I knew before I started it.
Friday, February 26, 2016

Easy Lobster Pie | #FridayPieDay

Easy Lobster Pie
It's the last Friday of the month, and that means it's time for another Friday Pie Day! I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but I missed it last month. Life's been crazy (what's new) and I just couldn't make it happen last month. Which is such a lame excuse, I know. Does life ever really settle down? Anyway, I think I'm making up for it today...because...LOBSTER! I brought out the big guns.

I was lucky enough to have 2 pounds of beautiful lobster meat to create with recently. I knew I'd be making Lobster Rolls with half of it, and I decided to try something else new (to me) with the other half. I came across a recipe for a super simple lobster pie in a booklet that was sent to me from Lobster Anywhere (you can find the original and some more tempting lobster recipes here), and made it with a few slight variations.

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #5

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #5
Made from two simple ingredients (sugar and the nut in question), marzipan is mentioned in Persian text dated all the back to the year 850. More than likely, it was around for many years before that. There are other varieties of marzipan made now that use other nuts, but I'm looking for the "original" nut today.

If you have a fun or interesting 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!

Answer to Food & Drink Quiz Friday #4: The first loaf of pre-sliced bread hit shelves on July 7, 1928 labeled "Sliced Kleen Maid Bread".!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Best Lobster Rolls

Lobster Rolls
Let's talk lobster rolls. Until recently, they were a mere item on a long list of foods that I had to try one day. For me, lobster tends to be one of those elusive meals due to both price and availability in my part of the country. I'll admit that even though I spent an entire day experiencing the quirks of being a "lobster killer" during my time in culinary school, it's been a good 14 or 15 years since then. Aside from the few times we featured them on the menu when I was still working in the restaurant, I haven't touched a lobster. So, it's been at least 7 years.

Thanks to my love for clam chowder, I recently connected with Joe from Lobster Anywhere, and realized that I could actually have delicious, high quality lobster delivered right to my front door! And while they offer all sorts of options, I don't think you can top having a couple pounds of sustainable fresh knuckle and claw lobster meat shipped straight from the cold Atlantic waters at your fingertips - no preparation required.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Toshiba Chromebook 2 #Giveaway

Toshiba Chromebook 2 Giveaway
I'm pretty excited to announce another fabulous giveaway today. I have several going up all week long, so be sure to browse my home page so you can enter for your chance to win everything from Seasons 1-5 of The Walking Dead on DVD to a retro 50's-style SMEG toaster to sweet and delicious lobster meat to an awesome on-the-go Libre Tea Glass to this amazing Toshiba Chromebook 2 with accessories! This is going to be an awesome week (to say the least).

Today I'm joining Angie from My So Called Chaos again, along with some more of her blogging friends and sponsors to giveaway a Chromebook 2, an OGIO Hamptons Laptop tote, and other laptop accessories to one lucky winner! We're focusing on blog follows this month, so to enter for your chance to win, you'll be able to follow these lovely blogs - which will hopefully give you inspiration to blog on your own once your prize arrives, too! Or you know, do whatever else you do on your laptop.
Monday, February 22, 2016

Cinnamon Currant Tangzhong Bread

Cinnamon Currant Tangzhong Bread
No joke, we go through toasters like they're going out of style. I can't tell you how many I've had over the years, both before getting married and since. I've had cheap ones and expensive ones, but never found one that I could rely on to consistently give me perfectly golden brown toast. Until now. At least so far.

I was recently offered the opportunity to try a SMEG 2-Slice Toaster. With it's fun 50's retro-look and extra-side slots, I couldn't resist. The hardest part was choosing whether I wanted it in cream, chrome, black, or sky blue. I seriously love all of them, and while I think I actually wanted cream the most, I thought that black would fit in better with our current kitchen, I choose that.
Sunday, February 21, 2016

Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry and Turmeric Rice inspired by The Lunchbox | #FoodnFlix

Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry and Turmeric Rice
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is a feast for the food lovers senses. Set in India, The Lunchbox is about a mistake in Mumbai's famed efficient lunchbox delivery system.  Ila is a lonely housewife and "stay at home mom" who is trying to win back her husband's affections by preparing and packing delicious food in his lunchbox. The first scene in the movie begins this way, handing his lunch off to the Dabbawala (one who carries the lunchbox) to deliver to him at work.

Although the Dabbawala insist that their system is flawless, referencing a study done by Harvard, the lunchbox meant for Rajeev (Ila's husband) winds up on the desk of the lonely and somewhat grouchy widower Saajan Fernandes. From the moment he unzips the carrier, he smells that his lunch is different than it's been in the past. It's better. It's a pure delight watching him open each compartment of that tiffin, leaning into their aroma.
Friday, February 19, 2016

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #4

The answer to ragged, irregular slices that consumers got every time they had to cut a piece of bread from their store-bought loaves, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the Rohwedder Bread Slicer. This machine that sent the first wax paper-wrapped loaf of pre-sliced bread onto shelves measured 5 feet wide and 3 feet high.

If you have a fun or interesting 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!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Be Frank With Me | #TLCBookTour #MeetFrank

Be Frank with Me - book tour stop and review
Today I'm hosting a stop on the TLC Be Frank With Me Book Tour.
Monday, February 15, 2016

My Sweet Vidalia | #TLCBookTour

My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella, a #TLCBookTour stop
Today I'm hosting a blog tour stop for the My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella. I'm just going to dive right in and tell you that this was a bit of a hard book to read due to the fact that abuse was the main subject matter. I did see spousal abuse mentioned in the description before I signed on to review this book, but if I had realized just how much the entire book centered around it, I would have declined.

I almost stopped reading several times. Abuse weighs heavy on the soul and after feeling its full weight in the first 50 pages, I wasn't sure if I was willing to go on. So I took a breather, but decided to keep reading. And while I had to stop a few more times, I did wind up finishing the book.
Sunday, February 14, 2016

Coca-Cola Ham inspired by The Walking Dead

Coca-Cola Ham
"Talk about miracles, that recipe for cola canned ham. Mmm. Ms. Peletier, you are an honest to goodness hero."

I get it. Food that actually resembles food before the zombie apocalypse. Food that tastes good. It is pretty miraculous. It's also a harsh reality that you can be praising somebodies kitchen prowess one minute, and then being mercy killed by them a few hours later. Little did Erin know how true her statement rang.
Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ham Biscuits inspired by The Walking Dead

Ham Biscuits | #DeadEats: Recipes Inspired by The Walking Dead
It's day 6 of Dead Eats: Recipes Inspired by The Walking Dead, and I'm super excited to be sharing a recipe inspired by the man of many profound sayings and one magical mullet—Dr. Eugene Porter. But first let me say - ONE MORE DAY 'TIL GO TIME! I've had a blast with Kim and Dionne this week, cooking up TWD-inspired food.

Okay, on to today's recipe. This reference is easy to miss, because the line slips out of Eugene's mouth as he and Tara are walking into the "doctor's office" in Alexandria. As they come through the door, we hear Eugene say "It hams my biscuits is all".
Friday, February 12, 2016

Merle's Cake with Pink Frosting inspired by The Walking Dead

Merle's Cake with Pink Frosting
It's FRIDAY - and that means only 2 more days until the mid-season premier of THE WALKING DEAD! It also means that we're 5 days into Dead Eats: Recipes Inspired by The Walking Dead, the event that I'm having far too much fun doing with Kim from Cravings of a Lunatic and Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary. I just have 2 questions for you: 1)Are you as excited as we are? 2)Have you entered our giveaway for your chance to win seasons 1-5 of TWD on dvd yet?

Okay, on to today's recipe. Since it was inspired by something that happened in season 3, there are only spoilers in this post if you're way behind. This one is in memory of Merle. Oh, Merle, you were such an ignorant, hateful, spiteful asshole. And yet, there was something about you that I loved. I'm sure this has almost everything to do with Michael Rooker (the actor who played Merle), because he's pretty amazing. But it probably also had a lot to do with the fact that you're Daryl's brother, and you love him as much as I the world does.

General Tso's Popcorn Shrimp

General Tso's Popcorn Shrimp
Once every couple of months or so, we order Chinese takeout from a favorite local restaurant. It's a small family restaurant which means that either the owner or one of her two kids usually answers the phone. When I call to place our order, the owner doesn't even ask our name. She knows us by our order—two large General Tso's Chicken with white (sticky) rice and one small Chicken Broccoli.

When one of us walks through the door to pick it up, she calls a hello and either brings us our order or tells us it's almost ready. I love that. But I also love saving money and time...and not having to go outside when it's in single (or negative) digits. Therefore, sometimes I like to make homemade takeout. Isn't that a fun oxymoron?

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #3

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #3
Thought to be the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, some think this drink was discovered by accident when some hungry hunter-gatherers stumbled upon an upturned beehive filled with sweet, fermented rain water. 

If you have a fun or interesting 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!
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Eastman's Oatmeal Burgers inspired by The Walking Dead

Oat, Farro, and Bean Veggie Burgers
Welcome to day 4 of Dead Eats: Recipes Inspired by The Walking Dead hosted by myself, Kim at Cravings of a Lunatic and Dionne at Try Anything Once Culinary. I hope you're having as much fun as I am with these recipes—and that you're as anxious as I am for Sunday to finally be here! If you haven't watched the first half of season 6 yet, here's your fair warning that there will be some spoilers in this post!

Here's the thing. I'm a Walking Dead fan through and through. I love the weeks with intense action and I also love those weeks that some people complain about saying they're "too slow" or "too boring" or "nothing happened". That's character development people! To understand people, it's important to know where they come from. Earlier this season we had one of those episodes; it was extra long and calm, giving us time to catch our breath and calm down after the crying, screaming, fist-shaking episode the week before.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shortcut Homemade Turtles for Enid inspired by The Walking Dead

Shortcut Homemade Turtles for Enid
We're three days into Dead Eats: Recipes inspired by The Walking Dead now, and I really hope that you're enjoying seeing the food that Dionne, Kim, and I have been inspired to make by this show and cast of characters that we love. Today I'm sharing something that I knew I'd make from the moment we saw the demise of our serene turtle friend.

If you need a refresher, I'm going back to episode 2 of season 6 again. The episode is titled "JSS" after the mantra that Enid created for herself - just survive somehow. We finally get a glimpse into Enid's past. We see how she loses her family and makes her way to the walls of Alexandria.

Simple Cheese Soup

Simple Cheese Soup
I've taken the past couple of months off, but I'm back this month with another Blogger Clue Society post. Although life has been busy and strange lately, when I saw that "Soups and Stews" was the theme, I knew I could find time to join in. With more than 100 soup recipes on my blog, you know I'm a bit of a soup addict.

So my assigned blog this month was Sew You Think You Can Cook (cook...cook...cook). Lauren's blog hooked me from the start with that catchy name, and if you watch the tv show with the similar name, I bet you were, too. I also bet you also would have repeated "cook" three times if I hadn't said it out loud. Anyhoo, I found several contenders on Lauren's blog. I zeroed in on her Chicken Tortilla Soup first because, well...tortilla soup is my favorite kind of soup. I even had a year-long quest back in 2010-11 to see if I could find my favorite version of tortilla soup. (I did, but that doesn't stop me from trying any bowl I can get my hands on.)
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dumpster Cookies inspired by The Walking Dead

Dumpster Cookies
This post has what I consider to be the biggest spoiler from the first half of season 6 of The Walking Dead - so if you don't want to me to ruin it for you, you should go check out these zombie finger cookies instead of these dumpster cookies right away!

Okay, so if you're still reading, that means you're all caught up or that you don't care about the best show on television. No judgement. Let's talk dumpsters. Specifically glorious dumpsters that save the life of your (my) favorite character. Everybody told me that there was no way Glenn survived that mob, but I held on to the hope that he was still alive. After all, Glenn represents hope lately, and the writers just wouldn't rip all hope out from under us would they?
Monday, February 8, 2016

Cream of Celery Soup with Paprika Butter inspired by The Walking Dead

Cream of Celery Soup with Paprika Butter
Today marks the start of what is going to be an awesome week. I've joined Kim from Cravings of a Lunatic and Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary in a culinary countdown to the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead! We'll be sharing recipes inspired by TWD throughout the week, so be sure to check back every day. Plus, we're giving away one set of The Walking Dead DVDs, seasons 1-5 (see bottom of the post to enter for your chance to win). Are you ready for Dead Eats: Recipes Inspired by The Walking Dead!?

Tropical Trail Mix

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sunsweet Growers. All opinions are 100% mine.
Tropical Trail Mix
When I'm looking for an easy on-the-go snacking option, more often than not I will grab some dried fruit and nuts. I love the contrast of intensely concentrated sweet and juicy fruit alongside the crunchy, salty nuts. Not only is it a simple fix, it's also a nutritious fix. But the best part is that by throwing a few kinds of fruits and nuts together, you have a completely customized trail mix that can be stored in a jar on your pantry shelf and poured into a baggie or container when you need a fast snack.

Sunsweet recently launched a couple of new dried fruit flavors to complement their Philippine Tropicals line of dried fruit. Sourced from unique micro climates that have ideal growing conditions, these sweet, succulent dried fruits let you experience a burst of the tropics with each bite. Hey, if I can't be in the tropics, at least the tropics can be in my mouth.
Friday, February 5, 2016

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #2

Food and Drink Quiz Friday No.2
The stigmas are the female part of this flower which comes from a plant that might produce several flowers in a good year. Each of these flowers contains three stigmas, which are the only part of the flower that, when dried properly, become commercial, culinary grade saffron.

If you have a fun or interesting 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!
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Remembrance by Meg Cabot | #TLCBookTours

Remembrance by Meg Cabot, a #TLCBookTours stop
Although the day is coming to a close, it hasn't ended yet. I may be cutting it close, but today I'm hosting a book tour stop for Remembrance, the latest book in the Mediator series by Meg Cabot (which I practically begged to do since I love all things Meg Cabot). The thing is, sometimes I get ahead of myself. I didn't realize that this was book 7 in the series...and my OCD tendencies make it almost physically impossible for me to start a series anywhere but book 1.

But I did it anyway. As anticipated, I'm hooked. I took a break about halfway through to put the first three books in the series on hold at the library.

100 Delicious Homemade Soup Recipes to Celebrate #HomemadeSoupDay!

100 Delicious Homemade Soup Recipes to Celebrate #HomemadeSoupDay!
Although I'm happy to eat soup any day of the year (yes, even in summertime), I couldn't resist celebrating the official "Homemade Soup Day" with 100 different mouthwatering soup recipes from around the internet. I've gathered a delicious selection of soups that range from creamy to brothy, meaty to vegetarian, quickly made on the stove top to set-it-and-forget-it in the slow cooker. If you can't find a handful of soups that you want to try in this bunch, then you're not paying attention!
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Buttermilk Biscuits w/ Chocolate Gravy (inspired by Last in a Long Line of Rebels)

Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
I always find it funny that as somebody a little older than the recommended age for a book, I can enjoy it so much. Such is the case with Last in a Long Line of Rebels. Recommended for ages 9 to 12, 5th grade and up, I'm slightly out of that age range...and  yet, I enjoyed every last page. I'd say that's a credit to the well-written story infused with mystery, history, intrigue, and a cast full of fun characters.

This is the story of 12-year old Lou Mayhew and her quest to save her 175-year old family home. With the help of friends, family, and a whole lot of gumption, she dusts off old family secrets and legends in the hunt to find some gold that's been long rumored to be buried on her family's land. It was a quick read from front to back that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Fougasse + Simple Olive Oil Dough

Roasted Red Pepper Fougasse
This month is all about the RED. Valentine's Day, National Heart Month, and the Red Carpet (thanks to the Oscars) all come to mind when I think February. With those as our abstract inspiration, the #TwelveLoaves bakers have chose RED as our bread baking theme this month. This theme was wide open to so many ingredients. I was very close to making a bread with red quinoa, but I just couldn't find one that I was happy with in time. Then I thought maybe I'd go the jam route and make some sweet buns or danish. Ultimately, I wound up making a beautiful, yet simple, loaf of fougasse that is stuffed with roasted red peppers.

The basis for this fougasse is a no-knead olive oil dough that I make often from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It comes together in five minutes, it's sturdy, and it freezes nicely. It's great for a simple loaf of white bread, some focaccia, or what we use it for most often - pizza crust!