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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Satisfy Hunger On-the-Go with Ready, Snack, Go!

Thank you Smithfield for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Satisfy Hunger On-the-Go with Smithfield's Ready, Snack, Go!
I've come to the conclusion that life is never going to slow down. I used to think "next week" or "next month" I'll have a little down time. Then I blink and it's next year. As the kids get older, our schedules only get fuller, so instead of fighting it, I've decided to embrace it. In the midst of all the madness, I've found that's it's really easy to eat mindlessly. Unfortunately mindless eating usually doesn't satisfy or nourish, so I swiftly wind up feeling more exhausted than I did before I ate.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Honey Orange Spice Blend | #DominoHoneyGranules

Thank you Domino® Honey Granules for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own package and start sprinkling sweetness today!
Honey Orange Spice Blend
January and February are usually my default down time when it comes to menu planning. After three fast and furious months of holiday inspired food, those couple of months are a welcome relief. But once the snow has melted and green starts to replace brown, and birds are chirping and tease outside my window, the itch returns. Those signs of rebirth signal not only the start of spring, but the return of the get-together. And that means menu planning!

While the first day of spring and St. Paddy's Day are both reason enough to celebrate, Easter plans usually wind up taking center stage. This is probably because it's really the first extended family get together of the new year. For as long as I can remember, we've eaten ham on Easter. Where our fall and winter holiday menus tend to be extensive, the ideas of a new beginning and spring cleaning seem to prevail this time of year.

Apricot Riesling Mustard

Apricot Riesling Mustard
I have a wee addiction to condiments. My collection of homemade, gifted, and storebought jars and bottles always get to a point where they've taken over both the pantry and refrigerator shelves. I know something's got to give when I can't find a space to put any actual food (aka, food that isn't a condiment), yet there doesn't seem to be anything to eat beyond a mustard and jam sandwich. But it would be a sensational Spicy Mango Mustard and Vanilla Moscato Peach Jam sandwich!

Now is one of those times. This amazing batch of homemade mustard was the tipping point—the absolute last jar I could squeeze into the fridge. But it was worth it. Yellow mustard seeds plump overnight in a sweet Riesling wine before they get a blitz in the food processor. The crazy heat of the mustard is mellowed by the addition of some good apricot jam.
Monday, March 28, 2016

Honey Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potato with Collard Greens

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marzetti® Brand. All opinions are 100% mine.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Collard Greens with Marzetti Honey Balsamic Veggie Drizzle
I am basically the worst at making sure there is a good, healthy side dish at every meal. I hate to admit it, but it's true. I tend to focus all of my energy on making sure we have a delicious protein on the table, only to realize that I haven't prepared anything to serve alongside that protein as I'm about to put it on the plate. You'd think that since I know that I do this, I could easily change it...but it hasn't happened yet.

So, I usually wind up scrambling to cook whatever veggie I have in the crisper drawer or the freezer. The problem with this habit is that it usually produces boring veggies. Recently I was introduced to a new product that I have to believe was developed with people like me in mind, Marzetti® Veggie Drizzle™ Finishing Sauce, which is made for adding a splash of flavor to any cooked vegetable AFTER it has been cooked!
Sunday, March 27, 2016

Whisky Sour inspired by I Am Legend

Whisky Sour cocktail
It's time for another vampire book and a movie challenge, and this month Kimberly has chosen the book I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and the movie The Omega Man to discuss. Want to know the crazy thing? I didn't even realize that I Am Legend was about vampires. We own the newest movie interpretation (I Am Legend starring Will Smith), but for some reason...and I'm guessing it has a lot to do with the times...I equated it more with the zombie apocalypse. This is just one reason that I'm joining Kimberly on her venture—new perspective.

I also didn't realize that the movie was based on a book by the same name (apparently I was not paying attention to the credits) that was first published in 1954. There were actually two movies based on the book the pre-date the Will Smith version. The first being a 60's film starring Vincent Price called The Last Man on Earth (which I haven't seen yet) and the 70's film starring Charlton Heston called The Omega Man.
Friday, March 25, 2016

Triple Cherry Pie inspired by Twin Peaks | #FridayPieDay

Triple Cherry Pie
About one month ago, I finally watched Twin Peaks. The first episode originally aired when I was a freshman in high school. I vaguely remember it coming out, but I think I was too young to be on the in where it was concerned. I've thought about watching it here and there over the years, but there were two things that really made me decide that now was the time to watch it.

The first being that there is a 25-year special coming out sometime soon—this year I believe. I wanted to be ready for that. But the real push actually came from a podcast that I recently discovered called Fiction Kitchen Podcast. I listened to a few minutes of their Twin Peaks episode before deciding that I really wanted to know what they were talking I hit stop and binge-watched Twin Peaks before coming back to listen to that (or any other) episode.

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #9

Food and Drink Quiz Friday #9
That's 3 whole liters! Large bottles of champagne are named after Biblical figures, and this one is named after two kings of Israel (the first generally thought of as the founder of the Kingdom of Israel). This size bottle is popular for weddings since, though large, is still fairly manageable to both chill and pour.

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!
Monday, March 21, 2016

Blueberry Thyme Pie inspired by North of Here

Blueberry Thyme Pie
Today I'm hosting a book tour stop for the novel North of Here by Laurel Saville. The story centers around 4 characters and is divided into sections, each of which contain a period of interaction between 2 of them that trickle outwards and affect all of them. And while I did enjoy the way it was broken up, and the eloquent writing, I wasn't as fond of the book itself.

I don't know what it is, but lately I've found myself choosing books that are a bit unsettling. I'm very much an escapist reader by choice and want to be transported away from the dismal and despressive. But this book lays both on heavy. Plus, the main characters are an entirely unlikable bunch, with Dix being the only port in the storm.
Friday, March 18, 2016

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #8

Food & Drink Quiz Friday no.8
This type of seed is one of the oldest oil seeds known to man and is highly valued due to its exceptional resistance to rancidity. The seeds are a source of essential nutrients like omega-6 fatty acids (mainly linoleic and oleic), contain high amounts of protein and dietary fiber, and are rich in B vitamins, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.

A phrase made popular from the tale Arabian Nights references the way the pod of this seed bursts open when it reaches maturity.

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, March 16, 2016

Chocolate Flan with Frosted Grapes inspired by A Walk in the Clouds | #FoodnFlix

Chocolate Flan with Frosted Grapes
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is the 1995 drama A Walk in the Clouds starring Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón. Although this movie is over 20 years old, it was my first time watching it. Growing up in the time of Bill & Ted and Point Break, I can't help but be a Keanu fan. And the female lead is actually the stars of one of my favorite shows, Velvet (a Spanish show that I discovered on Netflix...I am very impatiently waiting for them to add season 3).

A Walk in the Clouds is set in 1945 at the end of World War II in California. Paul, a young soldier returns home from war eager to start a family with the wife that he barely knows. At her encouragement, he returns to his previous job selling chocolates, even though it isn't what he wants. On the train, he meets Victoria, a young woman heading home to face her family with the news that she is pregnant and the father has abandoned her.
Monday, March 14, 2016

On Food, Sin & Satisfaction | The Lightening Round Author Guest Post #TLCBookTour

Please help me welcome author Bruce Stuart, with his guest post as part of a TLC Book Tours stop for his new book, The Lightening Round.
On Food, Sin and Satisfaction. Guest post by The Lightening Round author Bruce Stuart.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about a topic so near and dear to my heart — and of course my stomach — food.  You really cannot write a novel about weight loss and romance without spending quite a bit of time on how food influences each character’s life.
Friday, March 11, 2016

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #7

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #7
Now available fresh or tinned, Laverbread is rich in minerals and vitamins, including B12. It is also high in protein, iron, and iodine, and low in calories. Traditionally it was eaten as part of a miner's breakfast before a long day at the pits. It was also recommended for women and children who were suffering from malnourishment.

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, March 10, 2016

Dublin Coddle

Dublin Coddle
Dublin Coddle
In my search to find some good traditional Irish recipes to try over the past couple of weeks, I came across a dish called Dublin Coddle. If you're familiar with coddled eggs, which are cooked slowly and gently in a liquid just below the boiling point, you probably got the gist of this dish. Potatoes, onions, good pork sausage, and bacon are layered and cooked together gently to make a sort of stew that is basic - in the best of ways.

It's said that an Irish wife could leave a pot simmering on the stove for hours when she went to bed, that way it would be ready when her husband arrived home hungry from the pub. It's also one of those dishes that tastes better after sitting for a day, allowing all of the flavors to mingle and develop. A coddle was a good way to use up stray sausages and rashers of bacon on a Thursday in times when Catholics weren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
It seems like corned beef and cabbage is the St. Patrick's Day equivalent to margaritas and burritos on Cinco de Mayo. So, Irish-American (or Mexican-American) food. I get, though...and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Growing up in a melting pot, we often grab on to symbolism and culture in only flashy, consumeristic way we know how.

I grew up in a country that uses Lucky Charms, four leaf clovers, Irish cream, green beer and spry little leprechauns to represent something that has nothing to do with any of those things. And while I've been told that I have a sliver of Irish in me, that was the extent of it. I knew nothing about my Irish roots (or my German, Bohemian - as in Czech, or Cherokee ones, either).
Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and Squeak
Traditionally Bubble and Squeak is made using the leftover vegetables from a roast. Often times the meat is cut into bits and fried up with the veg, others times, it's served alongside. If you don't happen to have any leftover veggies from a roast, you can still enjoy a wedge of this hearty comfort food by starting from scratch.

Although I used brussels sprouts, you could use shredded cabbage if that's what you had on hand. If you have leftover mashed potatoes, feel free to use those in place of the plain boiled potatoes. You might wonder why I used duck fat AND pork in this recipe. The simple reason is because I had both and wanted to use both up. Duck fat adds excellent flavor, but you can definitely substitute extra bacon grease or butter if you don't have any hanging out in your fridge like I do.
Friday, March 4, 2016

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #6

Food & Drink Quiz Friday #6
If you hold an ultraviolet light (or a black light) over a bottle of tonic water, this ingredient makes it fluoresce. The FDA limits the contents of this ingredient in tonic water to 83 ppm (parts per million).

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!

Enjoy a little Romance When You Need It from Harlequin Books

Enjoy a little Romance When You Need It from Harlequin Books
Even though I don't have a recipe to share with you today, it's still getting a little hot in here as I join TLC Book Tours to help Harlequin kick off their "Romance When You Need It" campaign this month with the fun video you see below. Whether you're looking for an escape from her hectic day or a happened upon a little unexpected time to yourself, count on Harlequin to bring a little romance right when you need it—wherever you are!

To get you started, when you sign up to receive the Harlequin Newsletter, you'll receive 17 FREE e-books!
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Secret Dining Spots of Key West + Grouper Fritters #FLKeys

This guest post is brought to you by The Florida Keys and Key West, in conjunction with Honest Cooking.
Secret Dining Spots of Key West
A favorite destination for Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, and many more, Key West is known for its palm lined streets and fish that is fresh enough to draw any committed culinary traveler. With a distinct mixture of cultures, the island is not only home to a strong seafood scene, but a tantalizing fusion of cuisines. At night, the street a lit up with vibrant sidewalk cafes that lure in passersby with delicious scents of their specialties. Live music and hopping bars are the perfect pairings to watch the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Irish Barmbrack

Irish Barmbrack
Although I have a soft spot for Irish food (and Ireland in general), it usually takes the thought of March on the horizon and the imminent arrival of St. Paddy's Day before I consciously think about cooking up some traditional food...triggering a towering stack of Irish cookbooks, old photos and notes from my trip to Ireland, and endless internet scouting.

I have a few Irish foods ready to share over the next couple of weeks, starting today with a loaf of Irish Barmbrack as part of Twelve Loaves (our theme is Irish Breads). The word barm comes from beorma, an old English word that means yeasty fermented liquor, while brack (or brac) is the Irish word for speckled. And so it is a yeasty bread that is speckled with dried fruit, and often candied peel. It's also known by the names Barnbrack, Báirín Breac, Boreen brack, Bawreen brack, or simply brack.