Sunday, April 19, 2015

“Mad Men” Inspired Cocktails - Guest Post by Popsiculture

I was excited to have Angela from Popsiculture write a guest post for me!  We have known each other since high school and hands down, she knows more about pop culture than anyone I have ever met. You'll want to make sure to check out Angela's blog, here, so you can follow her too.  She also does freelance public relations and marketing and you can contact her through her site.  Thanks again, Angela, for writing this guest post!  These cocktails are perfect to sip while watching "Mad Men" on AMC - cheers!

The final episodes of “Mad Men” are now showing on Sunday nights on AMC.  “Mad Men” takes place in the 1960’s New York advertising world and specifically the Sterling Cooper agency and its many incarnations as the years go by.  Creative genius Don Draper is the center of the series and as you can guess he’s a complicated soul. 

I was late to the “Mad Men” party, but it’s a good one to be in attendance at, regardless of when you get there.  It’s smart, nostalgic, and really well written, so there are twists and turns you didn’t know existed on Madison Avenue. 

If you’ve got something to celebrate, or if you want to drown your sorrows knowing that Don Draper will never be in your life, ever again {don’t forget, there is streaming on Netflix, so you can re-watch any episodes you want,} here are a few of my favorite drink recipes, inspired by Sterling Cooper & Partners, or course.

"Mad Men" Inspired Cocktails

Below are the recipes for each of these cocktails - cheers!

Kir Royale with Chambord

Kir Royale with Chambord
Serves 4
3 oz. Chambord
1 bottle Champagne
Raspberries, for garnish

Pour 1 tablespoon Chambord into each glass.  Fill with Champagne, and garnish with raspberry.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins
Serves 1
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 ½ oz. gin
Lemon or lime slices
Club Soda

Mix sugar, gin, and juice over ice in mixing glass.  Stir, strain in cocktail glass with ice, and top off with club soda.  Garnish with lemon or lime slices.

Cuba Libre
Cuba Libre
Serves 1

2 oz. light rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
3 oz. Cola
Served in a highball glass, pour over ice in order given.  Garnish with a slice of lime.

Happy viewing and enjoy! 

For more ideas, check out AMC’s Mad Men Cocktail Guide here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cheesy Burrata Pasta Bake

If you have followed me for a while, you know that I'm a huge fan of Burrata cheese.  Don't know what that is?  You can read my post, "Burrata: 101 - What Is This Cheese All About?" here.  I was SUPER excited to find some at my local Safeway earlier this week - I made this Cheesy Burrata Pasta Bake that night for dinner!

What's even better is that I had this jar of Home Grown Garden Tomatoes Puréed with Garlic and Herbs from Leisure Cooking as a base for my sauce. I then puréed the contents of a 28 oz. can of San Marzano Tomatoes, added the base, and then cooked down a bit prior to using it as my sauce. It was delicious. What's extra cool about this? My brother Scott, of Leisure Cooking, grew the tomatoes for the base in his garden that he maintains in memory of our dad.

  If you are your local Safeway, look in the specialty cheese bin for the Burrata - it will look like this:
Once this dish was ready, I paired it with some sautéed squash and an arugula salad topped with shaved Parmesan and Extra Virgin Olive Oil and White Balsamic Vinegar from the Queen Creek Olive Mill - added a little salt and pepper, perfecto!

Cheesy Burrata Pasta Bake
Serves 4

2 links sweet Italian turkey sausage
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups of dry shell pasta
4 oz. Burrata cheese, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 - 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs
Salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, remove sausage from casings and cook in a sauté pan over medium heat, crumbling as you go, until browned. Drain on a paper towel.

Add the bell peppers, garlic, and salt/pepper (to taste) to the sauté pan (add extra-virgin olive oil if pan is dry).  Sauté for 5-7 minutes.

Once the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water.  In a large bowl, combine the sausage, bell pepper mixture, pasta, sauce, and cheese - mix gently.  I used less sauce because my boys aren't fans of too much sauce - add more if you'd like!  Grease the bottom and sides of a baking dish with butter and add the pasta mixture.  Top with bread crumbs.

Bake 10-15 minutes until heated all of the way through and the cheese has melted.  Serve with Parmesan to top.

Note:  You can prepare this ahead of time, but either put in oven while it pre-heats or allow for longer time in the oven.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mother's Day Gifts From UncommonGoods

Mother's Day is right around the corner...and, like you I'm sure, I am always looking for something unique to give to my mom (and to my mother-in-law) that I know she will love.  My mom means the world to me - she has done A LOT for me over my lifetime and has always been the foundation of our family.

UncommonGoods recently contacted me about reviewing products from their Mother's Day Collection which you can find here and from their Gifts for Mom Collection on this page.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled and immediately said, YES!

If you aren't familiar with UncommonGoods, let me tell you a little bit about their story.  Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, NY - UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer who operates out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including their warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage.

Their focus is on unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. UncommonGoods supports a platform for artists and designers, most of their products are created in the USA and about one-third of their collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.    

I selected a couple of items to try out.  The first one I'd like to share with you is their Slate Cheese Board with Soapstone Chalk.

I served three different cheeses on this gorgeous piece of slate at our recent Couples Euchre Night. Most noticed that this was a new serving piece - so I was asked a lot of questions!  After telling everyone it was from UncommonGoods as a product recommended for Mother's Day, I was immediately told by two of the guests that this would be PERFECT for their moms!  

It is beautiful, functional, and affordable.  Oh - and did I mention that it was made right here in the U.S.A?  Straight out of Brooklyn, NY by Sean Tice and Kristy Hadeka.  The Slate Cheese Board comes with the soapstone chalk, cork feet, and a burlap bag for storage.  I absolutely love this and know I will use it time and time again. 

You will want to read more about this product and its story here - coming in at $29, it's also a perfectly affordable gift for mom.

The other product I checked out was this Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set.  

This one intrigued me for a couple of reasons.  I live in the desert and my feet are in constant need of care! Secondly, every component of this set is made by Elizabeth McElwain on her farm in West Virginia, including the canvas bag.  Another product made in the U.S.A.  Reading the story behind this one made me want to order it - you can read it too on this page.  

Included in the bag are the Himalayan Pink Salt Foot Soap, the Himalayan Pink Salt Food Scrub, and the Beeswax Foot Balm.  You can read about the benefits and ingredients for each of these products here.

The Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set is $45 and well worth it.  My feet feel amazing!  I was so excited, I told my boys and they were both excited to feel how soft my feet were - no joke!  Sometimes, it's the little things!  :)

My experience with UncommonGoods and testing their products has been very positive!  Even their packaging is cool....

I hope you take some time to check out UncommonGoods - they have so many wonderful products and such an awesome approach to their business model.  I'm hooked and will definitely be back!