posts may contain Amazon affiliate links, which earn me a small commission when you buy (but doesn't cost you anything extra). Occasionally I receive free products and/or run sponsored posts—this will always be stated clearly in the post. Thank you for supporting this blog.

This website contains some quotations, excerpts, and screen clips from copyrighted material. These uses fall well within the copyright doctrine of "Fair Use".
Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Fontainebleau, An American Boy in France | Book Tour

Finding Fontainebleau Book Tour Stop
Today I'm hosting a book tour stop for the memoir, Finding Fontainebleau, An American Boy in France. Written by Thad Carhart, this memoir recounts the author's move to "a provincial town just south of Paris", home to France's greatest château, as a 4-year old when his military officer father was assigned there.

I have a weird relationship with memoirs. I'm usually hesitant to say that I enjoy them as a genre, since they vary so much. In general, I like them...history, culture, and memories told from first-hand experience. When they're good, they're really good. I love the ones that I can get carried away in, as if the author pulled me right into a different time and place.
Monday, July 25, 2016

Campfire Root Beer Floats

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of A&W®. The opinions and texts are all mine.
Campfire Root Beer Floats
When I think summertime, it conjures up all sorts of happy memories of days spent outdoors in the swimming pool or at the lake and nights spent chasing fireflies or laughing around the firepit. We never took "fancy" vacations, instead we would pile into the car, arm-crank those windows down, and set out on roadtrips. We wound up anywhere from the fishing pond to a drive-in movie theater.

For us, summer was a time for the simple things and small indulgences like an impromptu trip to the beach or pulling up to the speaker of the root beer stand. These are all experiences that I try to replicate with my own kids now that I'm an adult. Instead of worrying about expensive trips and getting time off of work, my husband and I aim for easy solutions to keep the family entertained.
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder inspired by Popeye | #FoodnFlix

Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder
Our Food 'n Flix pick for this month is the 1980 live action Popeye film starring Robin Williams. So, here's the thing—this film isn't for everybody. I say this because before I actually had time to sit down and watch it, I had a friend who repeatedly told me how horrible it was...that it wasn't worth watching...that she'd rather do pretty much anything other than be subjected to watching it again. So imagine her dismay when, after I sat down to watch it, I reported back that I actually kind of liked it.

Here's my theory: if you are/were a fan of the Popeye comic strip and cartoons, you'll appreciate this live action version. But if you never really got into Popeye, you may hate this movie. Guess what? I grew up with Popeye cartoons. My grandpa used to record hours of old cartoons on VHS tapes that included all sorts of old Looney Tunes shows, Pink Panther, and Popeye. We used to watch them for hours when I went to visit him, and I watched them at home. I love all of those old cartoons to this day.
Thursday, July 21, 2016

PlanetBox Launch Review

PlanetBox Launch Review
I've been resisting saying a certain "three little word" phrase out loud so far this summer, but as the calendar, store shelves, and tv commercials are constantly reminding me, I can't put it off any longer—BACK TO SCHOOL. Eek...too soon! But seriously, it is time to start thinking about it again.

This past school year, my two youngest kids decided that they only wanted to bring lunch from home from now because the school lunch had gotten too "gross". Sadly, I had to agree with them (but let's not go into that). We already had a small collection of lunch bags, boxes and accessories that we'd accumulated over the years, but I wanted to find something that matched their needs now that they're older and hungrier.
Monday, July 18, 2016

Chicken, Plaintain and Peanut Stew (with or without Pretzel Dumplings)

Chicken, Plaintain and Peanut Stew
Another summer, another box of mystery ingredients's time for another mystery box reveal!  This year, I received a box of ingredients selected by Matt from Nomageddon that contained a bottle of Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, a package of Boardwalk Craft Beer Pretzel Mix, and a container of Aurora Natural Plantain Chips. These were all amazing ingredients and I couldn't wait to combine them to make one delicious dish.

First of all, next to homemade plantain chips, these are the best I've ever tried. I had to make an effort not to just snack them all away. Loved the beer on its own, as well. I couldn't get the idea of a Caribbean-inspired stew of sorts that featured plantains and peanuts, but the pretzel mix threw me for a loop there, so while that was the inspiration behind my dish, my finished dish wasn't very Caribbean.

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise
I'm happy to be joining Sharon of what the fork Food Blog and a fabulous group of bloggers to help Sharon celebrate her birthday with an amazing giveaway this month! Not only do we have an amazing giveaway for you today, we also have a delicious list of birthday cocktails, cakes and other bakes—and they're ALL gluten free!
Sunday, July 17, 2016

Baked Honey Cinnamon French Toast inspired by In Twenty Years

Baked Honey Cinnamon French Toast
Today I'm happy to be hosting a book tour stop for In Twenty Years, a the latest novel by New York Times Bestselling Author, Allison Winn Scotch. The prologue takes us back to May of 1998, the final day on campus for a group of Penn graduating seniors who formed a bond freshman year and have since become so tight that they consider themselves a six-pointed star.

The main thing that drew me to this book in the first place was that I am the same age as the characters, so I figured I could identify with the premise—great friendships and hopeful dreams formed in college...and the reality of what's happened over the next 20(-ish) years. I knew the moment I started reading that I was right. Both of my favorite bands from that time period were referenced (Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band—still my fave, by the way), as well as some other pop culture and iconic references from the time.

Exquisite Gourmet Rocks (aka Piedras) | The NeverEnding Story

Piedras, a Mexican Pan Dulce (aka Stones or Rocks)
Every month or so I join my friend Kimberly from Coffee and Casseroles in a themed post, and this month we're going back to the 80's again. Any 80's movie was eligible and I chose another of my childhood favorites, the 1984 flick The NeverEnding Story. This was released in the U.S. the summer between 3rd and 4th grade for me. I don't think we went to the theater to see it, but as soon as it came to HBO (or something like that), I recorded it and watched it as often as I could get away with it. Seeing as how I can still recite most of the dialog right along with the actors, I guess that was pretty often.

Back then I had no idea that it was adapted from a book. I wish I had, because I'm betting I would have loved it at that age. I recently bought the book, but haven't carved out any time to read it yet. From what I've heard, the movie covers less than the first half, so I can't wait to see what Bastian's many more adventures were!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Peach-Rosewater Earl Grey Granita inspired by Unearthed | #UnearthedParty

Peach-Rosewater Earl Grey Granita inspired by Unearthed
Nature has a way of grounding us, helping us get back to the basics and connect with ourselves. In the newly released Unearthed, a memoir by Alexandra Risen, we see a neglected garden used to represent Risen's journey of understanding and accepantance. While the description of the memoir is "How an Abandoned Garden Taught Me to Accept and Love My Parents", I think, though real, the garden is actually a representation of history, growth, mystery, nurture, and understanding—and that true acceptance can only come with time and age. Unfortunately, we don't often get to that point until it's too late to say goodbye or share our growth with loved ones. But we can still make peace with ourselves.

When it comes to memoirs, I usually wind up on one extreme or the other (love 'em or hate 'em). It's usually a question of interesting versus boring. Fortunately, this one was on the love side for me. As someone who feels entirely disconnected with her past on one side of the family, I could identify with Risen. I know next to nothing about the paternal side of the family because similarly, they never talked about the past.
Monday, July 11, 2016

Seagan Eating Resource and Cookbook Review + Maple Almond Butter Caramel Corn Recipe

Maple Almond (or Peanut) Butter Caramel Corn
Seagan = A Seafood + Vegan Diet

One thing that I've toyed with over the years is following a pescetarian diet (basically a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood). I could probably be loyal to it if it weren't for my love of bacon. I'd miss steak and carnitas, too. But I think I could swing it if I tried. But a seagan diet takes it one step further by eliminating all animal food sources except fish and seafood. Bacon is one thing, but take away my cheese and you'll be inviting fisticuffs.
Friday, July 8, 2016

101 Chilies to Try Before You Die: Book Review

101 Chilies to Try Before You Die Book Review
I recently received a copy of the new book by chile savant David Floyd called 101 Chilies to Try Before You Die. It's a small book at only 4.5 x 7 inches, and one that I'd classify as a reference book. Filled with facts about chilies that span the Scoville scale, it's not just for heat seekers and chile heads, though I imagine it would be a welcome addition to their library.
Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mixed Berry Crumb Pie with an All-Butter Press-In Crust

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Land O'Lakes, Inc. All opinions are my own.
Mixed Berry Crumb Pie with an All-Butter Press-In Crust
Before I get into this delectable berry pie, I wanted to let  you know that I'll be working with Land O'Lakes, Inc. as an ambassador through the end of the year. I can't tell you how excited I am to be working with a company whose products I grew up seeing my grandma and my mom use, and that I always have in my own kitchen. I hope you and your family enjoy the recipes that I develop using Land O Lakes® Butter and other products over the next six months as much as my family does!

Let's talk pie today. More specifically, let's talk pie crust, which seems to be the part of the pie that scares off most would-be pie makers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say that they just can't make crust because they can't roll it thin enough or wide enough, or it breaks apart when after they worked hard at rolling it out and try lifting it into the pan. I get it, really. But let me tell you, there's nothing like the satisfaction of a biting into a pie that YOU made entirely from scratch.
Monday, July 4, 2016

Simple Beer Shandy Slushies | #GuinnessBBQChallenge

I am working in partnership with Guinness for this this campaign. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Please Drink Responsibly!
Simple Beer Shandy Slushies
I'm happy to working with Guinness again this summer to share another Guinness BBQ Challenge idea! Last year I shared a grilled pizza recipe that was topped with grilled onions, peppers, corn, and brats to pair with Guinness's crisp, hoppy Blonde American Lager. This year I accepted their challenge  to put my own personal twist on a shandy.

If you're not familiar with shandies, they are basically a beer cocktail that is made using half beer and half lemonade (or gingerale, ginger beer, or another citrus juice). They're a refreshing adult beverage option for summertime, and usually have fairly low alcohol content—if you use the half and half ratio.