Friday, March 27, 2015

Banana Cream Pie w/ Shortbread Cookie Crust #fridaypieday

Banana Cream Pie with Shortbread Cookie Crust #fridaypieday
Can we talk cream pies for a second? Pie shells filled with a rich pudding-like custard, and sometimes topped with a big cloud of whipped know the ones I mean. I'm about to make an admission that may stun and amaze you. Here goes: I can't remember eating more than a single slice of cream pie in my entire 39 years of existence. And I haven't actually made one myself until now.

I came close once, with this Coconut NO-Cream Pie that I made (which means that I also ate some) to share over at my friend Bea's blog, The Not So Cheesy Kitchen. But no cream filling is slightly (and by slightly, I mean extremely) different than rich, magnificent, actual custard filling. Just sayin'.

I've mentioned several times that I'm more of a fruit pie kind of girl, with nut pies coming in a close second. And of course I grew up eating pumpkin pie around Thanksgiving every year, but that's nowhere near a cream pie consistency. To make a long story short (which I suppose I really didn't), I decided it was high time that I try making an honest to goodness cream pie in my own kitchen. I had to start with banana, because I knew that would be universally accepted (if my home were the universe).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Don Draper's Old Fashioned #PartyLikeaMadMan

Don Draper's Old Fashioned #PartyLikeaMadMan
A term coined in the late 1950's to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.
They coined it.

Ready or not, the final season of Mad Men kicks off in just over a week. Me? I only have a handful of episodes under my belt. You see, back when Mad Men first started, we were not yet living in the land of cable television. Crazy, right? I don't know what I'd do without it now. They were already into season twp by the time we did finally crawl out from under our rock. And can I just tell you, I hate walking into a show once it's already begun; much like starting a book series at the second or third book—I just can't do it. So, I put it off and put it off and...yeah...I put it off.

I would catch moments here and there, but I'd be sure to flip the channel before I gave myself any spoilers for my future binge-watching sessions. Now that the final season is getting ready to begin, I've finally started watching it. I did the same thing with Breaking Bad. I didn't watch a single episode, but then caught a marathon on a few weeks before the final season was going to begin. I was hooked. Let's just say that Netflix was on my tablet, which I carried with me everywhere I went, until I caught myself up. I did that in approximately four days. I know I probably shouldn't admit that, but it's truth.

So, I started Mad Men a few days ago, competely clueless to the fact that this show has a boat-load of food and drinks in it. Maybe somebody whose mind isn't trained to spot food inspiration at every corner wouldn't even notice, but really—it's almost all that catches my eye. The show itself opens with the handsome Don Draper scribbling on some bar napkins, trying to figure out his next great ad pitch, empty glass next to him. When the waiter asks him if he can get him another drink, he says:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweet and Sour Pork Burgers w/ Pineapple Slaw #GrillPorkSweeps

This post is sponsored by the National Pork Board in conjunction with One2One Network. All opinions are my own.
Sweet and Sour Pork Burgers with Pineapple Slaw
What do temperatures going from from 0° to 70° in a matter of 7 days bring? Yes, flooding. But also, the flinging open of windows, the return of short sleeves, and the smell of outdoor cooking clinging to the air. The melting of the icy mounds that stood in my way of the garage door last week meant that it was time to wheel out the grill.

My husband volunteered (really) to check it over and gather all of the utensils while I made a quick trip to the store. Since I'll be partnering with the National Pork Board to bring you recipes and grilling tips over the next couple of months, I figured what way to kick off grilling season that with some pork burgers! I mean, burgers are simple to throw together, but you can customize them in all sorts of exciting ways—hello possibilities!

These pork burgers have a bit of an Asian-twist added to them by the addition of sweet and sour sauce. Any sweet and sour sauce will do. If you have a homemade version that you love, by all means, use it. If not, you can visit the international aisle at your local Walmart and find several options. Look for one that doesn't have chunks of fruit or veggies in it for this recipe, because we're going to add it to the pork and brush it on while the burgers are grilling to form a nice, glossy glaze.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese
I know today is the first day of Spring, but since it doesn't officially start until 10:45 pm tonight—I'm going to slide in one last comfort food dish. Okay, I can't actually guarantee it's the last one; you never know when the mood may strike. But you know, in the spirit of the weather turning warm(ish) and all...

So yes, this dish. It had been dancing around in my head for quite some time before I actually made it happen. I'd been thinking back to some of my favorite foods growing up. There were certain meals that I always looked forward to. Chicken a la King, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Cordon Bleu...and I loved it when I heard my dad pounding out some chicken in the kitchen. That meant we were having either Chicken Cordon Bleu or Pepperoni Chicken Rolls. Hmmmm, I sense a theme here.

The funny thing is, even though these are some of my favorite childhood meals, I don't find myself making them very often for my own kids. What's wrong with me? I mean, chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie are fairly regular, but none of the others. When I mentioned chicken cordon bleu, my kids looked at me without recognition registering on their faces. I mean, surely I'd made it once or twice before. Right? I racked my brain and think the last time I made it, my 17-year old was about 3 or 4. That meant that he didn't remember, and my two younger ones had never tried it. #momfail

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Porter Cake inspired by The Quiet Man #foodnflix

Irish Porter Cake
This month's Food 'n Flix pick is an oldie, originally released back in 1952, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara—The Quiet Man. This flick is set in the fictional town of Innisfree, Ireland...not to be confused with the isle of Innisfree, an actual place made famous in a poem by William Butler Yates, located on Ireland's western coast.

Our main character, Sean Thornton, is an Irishman by decent, although he grew up in Pittsburgh. Looking to start over (I won't tell you why—I'll let you watch the movie to find out), he leaves the states and moves to this Irish town that he's known only through his mother's stories.

Though not particularly a foodie movie, there is plenty of inspiration to be had. First of all, it's March—and the movie is set in Ireland (exactly why I'm sharing this post on St. Paddy's Day). But even if it wasn't the month where everybody taps into their inner Irish, I would have went the same route. I can't think of Ireland without fond memories...from divided plots of land in all shades of green with sheep roaming freely to the whiskey distilleries and many glasses of beer to the breathtaking cliffs of the Giant's Causeway to the brown bread—Ireland will forever be a part of me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Granary Loaf #BreadBakingBabes

Granary Loaf
Unbelievably, March is already halfway over. Today is the 16th, and that means it's Bread Baking Babes challenge reveal day! Our mission this month was set forth by Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups. She reeled us in with talk of a loaf that is "considered classic, simple, conservative but with a potentially unobtainable ingredient" and reminded us that creativity is as much a part of being a BBBabe as the love for baking bread is. We were to make a Granary-style loaf in which "good tasty bread", not authenticity was the goal.

Well, I may disappoint, because I went completely authentic. After doing a bit of reading on granary bread, I discovered that it's something of a treasure. People love it; it has a flavor all its own that comes from the flour which contains slowly toasted malted wheat flakes. Um, hello! I wanted to try the original before getting all creative up in here. So, I did what anyone who loves a good loaf of bread but can't find the proper flour locally would do—went directly to Amazon.

And guess what? I found it. Before I could think too hard (about the price), I added a bag of Hovis Granary Bread Flour to my cart and immediately checked out. It was shipping from the UK, so I had a good amount of time to anticipate its arrival. Three weeks later, the most expensive bag of flour I've ever purchased arrived on my doorstep.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Irish Goodbye Cocktail

Irish Goodbye Cocktail
So, have you ever been at a party, bar, social gathering, what-have-you...and just wanted to leave? You don't want to get caught up in the 30-minute goodbye, so you quietly duck out the side door (the back door or the front door will work, too). Yeah, me too. Apparently there's a name for this—several, actually: ghosting, the French exit, and the Irish Goodbye.

In honor of the upcoming St. Paddy's Day festivities, Smirnoff has created a cocktail inspired by the tradition called (you guessed it), the Irish Goodbye. Intrigued by the two simple ingredients, I was delighted to mix one up for myself when Smirnoff sent a bottle of their Kissed Caramel flavored vodka for me to experiment with.

This caramel-kissed glass of hard cider definitely lives up to its name. It's fun and refreshing, and since it's incredibly easy to drink, it's got some mad sneaking abilities—so enjoy with care!

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