The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Just in Time for the Finale! #review #giveaway

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a Mad Men fan for years. As difficult of a time as the 1960s (and now ’70s) were, Mad Men has always made this decade seem so sexy and cool. I’ve had a long time love affair with mid-century decor and watching Mad Men is like TV porn for me.  The costumes are so specific and structured, the sets are so stylistic and unique, and although the food of the ’60s isn’t featured on the show as much (outside of alcohol, so, so much alcohol), the food of the ’60s was also very interesting.

When I find a cookbook from this era, I get really excited. The colorful, yet desaturated photography of the time made the food look almost plastic, and in some cases unappetizing, but I still feel a sort of whimsy when I see the recipes from so long ago.

One book that captures both the recipes of the time and the show Mad Men is The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. This book delves into the food and drink that appears on the show. Featuring recipes from some of the restaurants and bars mentioned on Mad Men, and cookbooks of the time, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook gives us a nice sample of of the cocktails, entrees, and desserts of the ’60s. Many of the recipes are paired with a show reference, history of the dish, or a suggestion for a character from the show. This is a cookbook that informs you of the past while teaching you the recipes. I love that!

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While there is a lovely section of full-color pictures from some select recipes, this cookbook is more focused on print information than photographs of the final products. What that means is the book is packed with more than 70 recipes that represent mid-century eating and drinking and the stories that go with them. Speaking of drinking, over 25 of those recipes are cocktails alone, which isn’t a surprise when you consider alcohol is one of the most consistently prevalent things on Mad Men.

One of the recipes I tried from the cookbook was the Manhattan. I love Old Fashioned cocktails, just as Don Draper does, but since I’ve had those before, I decided to try the Manhattan. It’s a similar cocktail, using whiskey and bitters, but with less ingredients and not nearly as sweet.

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 Manhattan

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

**recipe reprinted with permission


This version of the cocktail is from the Oak Bar on Central Park South in New York where Don and Roger Sterling stop for an after-work drink in season 1 episode 7.  One thing that makes this cookbook unique, especially for a Mad Men fan, is that it points you to the episode that the drink or dish appeared, or could have appeared, in the show.

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Duff Goldman Holly Jolly Cake with Holiday Frosting {Review and Giveaway}

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I hope by now you’ve read and entered my other Duff Goldman review and giveaway for a box of Chocolate Snowball cookie mix (it ends today!), but I have another treat for you provided by Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios. I have the opportunity to review another product from the Duff Goldman holiday line and give away a package of the same products I’m reviewing!

Today’s product is the Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Holly Jolly Cake Mix and Holiday Frosting. The first thing that caught my eye about this product was how vibrant the colors of the cake were. It’s very festive. I also liked that the frosting looked really white. I hoped that the product lived up to these expectations.

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The products are described by the company as “layers of holiday colors to dazzle the eye, and moist, delicious flavors to tempt the taste buds” with a “decadent” frosting. I hoped this description wouldn’t be setting me up for disappointment.

The first thing that was a plus is that the food coloring gels that come with the cake mix do actually get the batter pretty close to the red and green in the picture! So even if this cake wasn’t any good, I had a feeling it would still look pretty cool.

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I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be able to do the 4 layer cake, because I didn’t have the right sized pans. The box suggests two 8in round cake pans so that each cake can be cut in half for the layers, and 9in pans (which is what I had) were not recommended. I could have said “screw you, cake box instructions, I’ll do what I want,” but since this was a review, I wanted to follow the directions correctly at least this first time. In the end, I opted for a two layer cake.

The batter tasted pretty great but was a tad sweet. The frosting was also very sweet.  I was afraid it might be too sweet when put together. Another drawback of the frosting was that it wasn’t as white as the frosting on the box of cake mix. It was closer to the cream color on the frosting label. It tasted a bit like a mix of regular vanilla frosting and cream cheese frosting.

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I cooked the cake according to the directions and ended up pulling it out of the oven a couple of minutes early because a toothpick already came out of the center clean. This was probably one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever baked. Even after cooling for a long time, the cake stayed sticky. Because of this stickiness, when you frost the cake, you’ll have to do a crumb coat. To do this, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake to glue all the crumbs together that mix into it after you’ve put in the frosting filling between the layers.  To set this quickly, I stuck the cake in the fridge for a few minutes so that the frosting wouldn’t be tacky to the touch. Then I frosted as usual, no crumbs this time! I found a great tutorial for crumb coating on Martha Stewart if you need a visual.

While putting cake in the fridge can dry it out, this cake needs a bit of chilling to firm it up for cutting slices. The cake was room temperature when I took the first slice out and it nearly crumbled all over the place, plus the slice fell over when I was trying to serve it on a plate for the photo shoot! It was not very easy to handle when it was warm and it was messy. There were cake crumbs all over.

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I don’t know how they got the frosting so clean in the cake box photo. Crumbs got all mixed up into mine when I cut the cake. I found out later that chilling the cake briefly does make the cake more firm for slicing, but it’s still a bit crumbly.

Now to the taste. As I expected, the cake was a little too sweet for my liking. If you like really sweet desserts, this might be the cake for you. A little goes a long way, because it’s so sweet and rich. Chilling the cake helped cut down on the sweetness too somehow. A small piece of this with some not-too-sweet coffee would be pretty good though!

Here’s that first slice I cut that fell all over the place. I was able to salvage it by putting the ugly side to the back. Oh the things I do for pretty photography.

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Overall, I did like this cake. It was bright and moist and looked very Christmassy. The only negative things I found were mostly with the frosting, because it wasn’t as white as I expected, and it was too sweet. The cake itself is so sweet, it could be a dessert on its own.

Want a chance to give it a try? Enter the giveaway below for a Holly Jolly Kit that includes one box of Holly Jolly Cake Mix and two tubs of Holiday Frosting.

BUY IT

If you would like to buy the Holly Jolly cake mix, it can be found at Target and Stop and Shop, and the Holiday Frosting can be found exclusively at Target until January 2015. Some of the holiday products can be found online at www.gartnerstudios.com.

CONNECT

Stay up-to-date on all things Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios! Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

WIN IT!

One lucky reader will win their own package of Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Holly Jolly Cake Mix and two tubs of Holiday Frosting!

Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Giveaway ends 12/24/14 at 11:59 pm EST.

Click HERE for complete giveaway rules.

To Enter, just fill in your name and email into the Rafflecopter widget below. For a better chance at winning, complete as many of the optional entries as you want. Come back daily for more entries!

If the Rafflecopter widget does not show up, just click the link that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway.” Then you can put your entries on that page.

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****I received these products free of charge for an honest review of the products. I was not compensated monetarily for this review and all opinions are my own.****

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Chocolate Snowball Cookies by Duff Goldman {Review and Giveaway}

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I’m a huge chocolate fan. I love everything chocolate. So when Gartner Studios offered to send me this Chocolate Snowballs Premium Cookie Mix to try, I won’t lie, I was a little too excited. I love trying new things, and it doesn’t hurt when those new things are also chocolate!

I’ve reviewed Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios in the past and enjoyed the mix, so I looked forward to receiving this one as well.

For those of you who may not know, Duff Goldman is considered the “bad-boy-of-baking” and is known for his Ace of Cakes baking show on Food Network. He created this line of baking products so people could produce their own baking masterpieces at home. I like his products because they are always so eye catching.

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The Chocolate Snowball cookies are pretty good too. Described by the company as the “perfect snow-day treat,” they combine a good combination of powdered sugar and chocolate flavor. I almost wished they were a little more chocolaty, but they still tasted great.

The cookie mix comes with chocolate cake mix and a packet of powdered sugar. All you need to add is 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 eggs. They include plenty of powdered sugar too. I still had half a packet left after I covered all the cookie balls. You could add more powered sugar to each cookie, but I didn’t want the sugar to overpower the chocolate. The box also says that it makes 3 dozen cookies, but I only got about 22 out of it. I guess my cookie balls were a little too big, but if you made them much smaller, these cookies would be pretty tiny in the end. Most of my cookies were about 2.5 inches in diameter.

When combining the ingredients, it seemed too dry at first, but after it got too thick for my stand mixer to do any good, I mashed the dough up with my hands for a bit and that allowed the butter to warm up and infuse the dough with buttery goodness. The cookie balls rolled out pretty easily and didn’t fall apart like I thought they were going to when it looked too dry at first. The dough has a little bit of a grainy texture which could turn some people off, but wasn’t too problematic. In the end, it all worked out though!

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They were chewy and chocolaty and powdery! I would try these again for sure.

If you liked this product, stick around! I’ll be reviewing and giving away the Holly Jolly Cake Mix and Holiday Frosting by Duff Goldman soon!

 

BUY IT

If you would like to try these cookies, the mix can be found at Walmart and Target or online at www.gartnerstudios.com.

CONNECT

Stay up-to-date on all things Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios! Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

WIN IT!

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One lucky reader will win their own package of Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Chocolate Snowballs Cookie Mix!

Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Giveaway ends 12/17/14 at 11:59 pm EST.

Click HERE for complete giveaway rules.

To Enter, just fill in your name and email into the Rafflecopter widget below. For a better chance at winning, complete as many of the optional entries as you want. Come back daily for more entries!

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****I received these products free of charge for an honest review of the products. I was not compensated monetarily for this review and all opinions are my own.****


Old Fashioned Cocktail Cupcakes Made with a Cakes Under the Influence Kit {Review}

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IMG_5401_3I love cocktails and cupcakes, so what could be more awesome than a cocktail cupcake?! NOTHING! Duh.

What’s even better is the baking supply company, Cakes Under the Influence, makes baking boozy cupcakes super easy with their easy-to-use kits. I got the chance to try out their nifty Entertainer Kit that has everything you’ll need (minus the alcohol) to make a set of cocktail cupcakes and display them. I wish I had had this kit last year when my boyfriend and I threw a ’60s themed cocktail party.

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My kit included:

  • 1 20″ x 15″ acrylic, dishwasher safe, serving tray that holds up to 12 snap on acrylic stemware
  • 12 food safe silicone cupcake stands (to be used with your own cupcake baking pan)
  • 12 Mini-Martini shaped aluminum molds (3 oz.)
  • 24 greaseproof mini-martini shaped paper baking liners
  • 12 martini shaped acrylic, dishwasher safe and reusable, serving cups
  • 12 acrylic bottoms that the serving cups snap into (these are usually sold separately from the kit)
  • 1 Vanilla Hi-Proof Baking Mix (also sold separately from the entertainer kit)

The kit was also supposed to come with access to the CUI Mobile app available on Apple and Android devices with access to CUI recipes and CUI Community features, but I couldn’t find the app in the Apple app store for my iPod Touch. I also don’t have any android devices, so I couldn’t use the app. Maybe others will have more luck.

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The silicone cupcake stands and aluminum molds worked just fine with my cupcake baking pan. You can use the paper liners with these molds or spray them with cooking spray and use them without paper liners. I decided to try both methods and found differing results. More on that later.

Here’s a quick animation from their website that visually shows how easy it is to use the kit:

The Cakes Under the Influence company encourages you to find new ways to use their product and to create new cocktail cupcake recipes to make with their cake mix. Since I received a package of cake mix with my review kit, I decided to come up with a cocktail recipe that I didn’t see available on their website.

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If you use their cake mix, all you have to do is add the ingredients of your favorite cocktail. It’s pretty darn easy. There are instructions on the back that you can follow, but I choose to modify the Manhattan Cocktail Cupcake Recipe from the CUI website to make Old Fashioned Cocktail cupcakes!

IMG_5418Here’s what you’ll need for the cupcakes:

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Old Fashioned Cocktail Cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcake batter:
  • 1 Family size package (13.7 oz) of Vanilla Hi-proof Baking Mix
  • 4 - 5 Tbsp. of club soda or water
  • 1/2 c. bourbon whiskey
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. cherry juice (either Rose's or the syrup from a maraschino cherry jar)
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • For the drizzle:
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. bourbon whiskey (or more to taste)
  • A splash of cherry juice
  • A splash of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • For the garnish:
  • 1 orange
  • 1 10 oz. jar of maraschino cherries
  • toothpicks

Instructions

    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine Vanilla Hi-Proof Baking Mix in a bowl with all the other ingredients.
  3. Mix for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Line molds with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. I like to use the baking spray that has oil and flour in it.
  5. Pour or spoon the batter into the molds.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  8. For the garnish:
  9. Cut the orange into wheels and then cut the wheels into quarters.
  10. Take a toothpick and add one cherry and one orange quarter to each.
  11. Place the garnish on top of the cupcake after you put the drizzle on it.
  12. For the drizzle:
  13. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar with all liquid ingredients. If it is too thick, thin with more of the juices or a splash of milk. (Don't use too much milk or the citrus juice may curdle it.)
  14. Use the rest of the orange you used for garnish for the juice.
  15. Drizzle on the top of each cupcake.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/01/old-fashioned-cocktail-cupcakes-made-with-a-cakes-under-the-influence-kit-review/
When they’re done, they’ll look like this:

IMG_5402I tasted the batter before it was cooked, and it really did taste like an Old Fashioned. Once cooked, the strength of the flavor had subsided a little since some of the alcohol had cooked out, but I still picked up the taste of an Old Fashioned. The whiskey drizzle on the top really enhanced the cake’s taste too. The consistency of the cake was almost muffin-like and wasn’t too sweet which I liked.

IMG_5405The acrylic stemware snapped into the included serving tray easily and looked pretty fancy once they were all on there. If you use the bases instead of the tray, I found that the tops didn’t snap into them, but rather fit tightly. A couple didn’t fit as tightly, and fell apart when I picked them up.

Since I made some of the cupcakes in the liners and some without, I noticed they cooked differently. The cake in the liners was more perfectly round on top, and the ones without were flatter. The cakes themselves tasted the same, but that might be something to keep in mind if you want a specific look for these cupcakes.

IMG_5416Cakes Under the Influence has many different options so you can find the right product for your lifestyle. Don’t need a full Entertaining Kit? They have other kit options, including a 2-person package. Besides the mini martini molds and stemware, they also have margarita, champagne flutes, and shot glass shapes! If cupcakes aren’t your style, they offer large cake molds and cocktail cookie cutters as well.

These kits are great for adult parties or even a romantic night in. Like I mentioned before, I wish I had known about these when I had my cocktail party, because they would have been perfect! The best thing about this product is, except for the paper liners, it’s all reusable. Next time I throw a cocktail party, you better believe there’s going to be a set of Cake Under the Influence boozy cupcakes on the table.

Connect

Want to find out more about Cakes Under the Influence? Connect with them through any of the ways below:

Win!!

Click here to enter for a chance to win a Two Under the Influence Baking Kit from Cakes Under the Influence!

Tip Junkie Handmade Projects

*** I received this baking kit in return for an honest review of the product. All opinions are true and my own.*** 
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Just in Time for Fall: eShakti Dress Review and Giveaway

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eshaktilogoFall is just around the corner, and thanks to eShakti.com, I’ve got another great giveaway for you! I previously reviewed one of their dresses earlier this year and really enjoyed the experience. I’ve since bought several other dresses from them and liked every single one of them.

Ordering clothing online is often not a fun experience for me because of how picky I am about fit, but with eShakti I spend less time worrying about how it’s going to fit and spend more time designing the dress I want! You can order a stock dress, but the greatest thing about this store is that you can fully customize a dress with your exact measurements as well as the length, neckline, sleeve length, etc. It’s great.

For this review I chose the Star spangled poplin dress. I think it will look great at the holidays later this year. It started out looking like this:

 

CL0028411L2And with my specifications I ended up with this dress:

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Look at those pasty white legs!

It’s just about the same, but I changed the neckline and shortened it a bit. I think it’s a bit more flirty this way. I also had it made with my measurements and it fits great. Other cool features this dress has are the invisible side zipper and the bra clips underneath the straps.

The only thing that might be a draw back about some of their cotton dresses like the one I bought is they get wrinkled super easily. I fully ironed mine and then after wearing it for a little bit, it was already wrinkled again!

They’ve got many different customizable options and it only costs an extra $7.50. Also, the first time you order from them customization is free!  If you decide to go the customized route, it’s super easy to design your dress. First take your measurements:

customsizeThen choose your height and, if the option is available, choose your necklines, sleeve length, and dress length:

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customnecklinecustomlengthNot all of the dresses, tops, and skirts have the same customizable options but the above pictures give you an idea of what’s possible.

eShakti just released their fall line of clothing and from now until September 15th you can get 20% off the new styles.

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GIVEAWAY

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As they did before, eShakti is offering my readers a great giveaway. Two lucky winners will win a $30 gift card to eShakti that can be used on anything in the store!

This giveaway is open to residents 18+ of US and Canada only. For complete rules click here.

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****This post is sponsored my eShakti.com. I received an item of clothing free of charge for review but received no other compensation for this post. All opinions are honest and my own.****
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Show The Protein Bakery Your Muscle {Review & Giveaway}

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I love sweets. And if they weren’t so horribly unhealthy, I’d eat sweets all the time. Like all day long. Making dessert is fun, but sometimes I just want to grab something quick to satisfy a sweet craving, so I was delighted to try The Protein Bakery’s line of baked goods.

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These nutritionally balanced goodies are trans-fat free, preservative free, and wheat flour-free. They are also made with natural ingredients like rolled oats, nuts, light brown sugar, and quality chocolate. And as the name suggests, they are packed with whey protein which is good for those wanting more protein in their diet. As healthy as these treats are though, I’d still suggest eating them in moderation, because they are definitely not low in calorie or fat.

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The delicious Walnut Brownie

I received a sampling of The Protein Bakery’s brownies, blondies, cookies and minis for this review. I found that I really enjoyed some of the items, but others were not quite to my liking. The walnut brownies were delicious and very moist while the peanut butter blondie I tried was flavorful but very dry. The minis were a bit dry as well. Heating them up in the microwave helped a bit but still not as moist as I was hoping for. The cookies were soft and tasted like homemade cookies. Despite dryness in a few of the treats, I liked pretty much everything I tried.

Connect with The Protein Bakery

Catch up with The Protein Bakery in many ways:

Website: http://proteinbakery.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/proteinbakerycookieswithmuscle?ref=ts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/proteinbakery

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/the-protein-bakery?trk=fc_badge

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheProteinBakery

Showing muscle is kind of difficult when holding a cookie.

Showing muscle is kind of difficult when holding a cookie.

Show Your Muscle Promotion!

Right now The Protein Bakery is running a “Show us your muscle” promotion! If you buy any of their products, send them a picture of yourself holding your Protein Bakery treat while making a muscle for a chance to win a free baker’s pick gift set (their largest gift set!) and T-shrit, as well as having your photo highlighted on their website. Send your photo submission to info@proteinbakery.com and let them know Shane’s Killer Cupcakes sent you!

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If you want to enter the contest without making a purchase, then enter my giveaway below for a chance to win a taste of Protein Bakery (an assortment of 2 brownies/blondies, 2 cookie 2-packs and 2 mini’s), a $45.00 value, courtesy of The Protein Bakery! If you win my giveaway, you can use your prize of treats to enter their “show us your muscle” contest for even more treats! Whoo-hoo!

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****I received product from The Protein Bakery in return for an honest review and to promote their new “Show us your muscle” promotion. All opinions are mine and are entirely honest.
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