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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Cherry Amaretto Cordial Cake Hearts

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and one thing that goes well with romantic holidays is chocolate and alcohol. These take a day or two to prep for, so if you want to make them for Valentine’s Day this year, better get to it (okay, okay, it’s my fault I didn’t get these posted sooner)! You can make them for any time of the year though so don’t fret if you don’t have time to do them this week.

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There are a few things you’ll need to make these. You’ll need a silicone mold of some kind that has slightly deep wells (I used a heart treat mold), some melting chocolates in your favorite colors or flavors, chocolate cake mix, canned frosting, maraschino cherries, cherry topping, pie filling or cherry jelly, and some amaretto.

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The amaretto doesn’t have to be the expensive kind. I got the cheaper stuff and it worked well for this recipe. For the cherries I chose maraschino cherries because they are bright and sweet. Fresh cherries could work too, but would change the flavor a bit. The cherry topping I found actually tasted more like fresh cherries and was dark in color but it went great with all of the other ingredients.

The first thing you want to do, is pull the maraschino cherries out of their syrup, drain, and dry them a bit. I just rolled them around in a couple paper towels. Pop them into an empty jar and pour the amaretto over them. Let them soak for 24-48 hours.

On the day you make the treats, bake the chocolate cake first and let it cool. While it cools, make your cherry sauce by adding 1/4 cup of cherry topping (strained of fruit pieces) with 1/4 cup of amaretto, set aside. If you’d like to omit the alcohol, don’t soak the cherries in it and only use the cherry topping for the sauce. If you’re using cherry jelly and need to thin it a bit, mix a little cherry syrup into it instead of amaretto.

Prepare your silicone mold by melting the chocolate/candy melts and coating just the bottom and sides of each heart well. The back of a spoon and a pastry brush helped me get it covered. Make sure there are no holes! Freeze the mold for 5 minutes. I suggest placing the mold on a baking sheet to keep it from bending.

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Once the cake is cool, crumble it up in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of frosting until it is completely combined. It should have a consistency of clay. It’s a messy job, but I like to mix it with my hands, I find it easier to combine this way.

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Product Spotlight: Tiny Hands Jewelry

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Lately I’ve been posting a lot about Tiny Hands Jewelry on my Facebook page and you may be wondering why I’ve been obsessed with it so much recently.  I got the opportunity to become a Tiny Hands Ambassador this past month and I couldn’t be happier. What this means is that I can bring you Tiny Hands jewelry at a discounted rate, and in return I’ll get a small commission from each sale made through my Shane’s Killer Cupcakes Facebook page. Keep an eye out for future sales! All the money I make from this adventure will be funneled back into the blog, and I’ll be able to offer more giveaways in the future, so it’s a win-win for all of us!

I came across Tiny Hands jewelry a couple of years ago and fell in love with it immediately. All of the adorable artistry is thanks to Mei Pak, the founder of Tiny Hands, and her assistants. You may have seen her work before and not even realized it. She’s had her jewelry featured in many lifestyle magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray and InTouch Magazine, and even Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope wears her maple scented waffle necklace on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

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I also own the maple scented waffle necklace and it smells and looks as good as you can imagine. I’m a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, so I just had to have the same necklace that Leslie has (I’m also about as crazy for breakfast as she is too).

tinyhands-owner-mei-lowresBack in 2006, Mei set out to create a product that combined quality with sweet, feminine charm. What she’s ended up with is a lovely collection of delectable scented food jewelry that comes in necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets and even customized pieces. All of her polymer clay pieces are created in the USA at her Minnesota studio. Do you like desserts and comfort food? If you do, then Mei will have just the piece for you! Currently she offers miniature versions of your favorite foods (cupcakes, ice cream, bonbons, donuts, popcorn, corn dogs, bacon, etc) which can be worn daily or even saved for a special occasion. The quality and expertise imbued into each piece is remarkable.

As you know, I LOVE sweets, but one thing that always keeps me from enjoying them is those darn calories! With Tiny Hands deliciously scented jewelry, now you can have your sweets without all those pesky calories. Sure, you can’t eat them (I wouldn’t recommend it) but when you’re craving a dessert maybe just looking and sniffing some of Tiny Hands jewelry will suffice! And it’s zero calories! Whoo!

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Tiny Hands jewelry is perfect for gift giving. Each piece is packaged in a lovely gift box. When I bought my piece last year, I was surprised how pretty the packaging was. It was like a surprise gift I received in the mail even though I was expecting it to arrive!

Take a look at her full collection. It just makes me hungry looking at it! For just a sample of her beautiful jewelry take a look below:

In the coming weeks/months, I’ll be running flash sales featuring pieces of Tiny Hands jewelry marked down 10%-15%. I want to offer you discounts on the pieces you want to buy, so let me know which pieces you love in the comments and maybe you’ll find them on sale soon!

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Mini Birthday in a Box

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Birthdays can feel a little stale as we get older. I know I don’t look forward to my birthday with the same excitement and wonder I had when I was a child. And birthdays are even less exciting when you don’t have the ones you love with you to celebrate them. That’s why I put together this mini birthday in a box for my boyfriend when his birthday rolled around earlier this month and I couldn’t join him for it.

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The BF had to relocate for work about 1250 miles from where I live and seeing him has gotten a little difficult. It didn’t help that his move also had to happen right before the holidays and we were apart for about 3 holidays and his birthday in the past 2 months. But to make him feel as much like he is at home (and to keep my mind off the fact that he’s MOVED 1250 MILES AWAY!), I’ve been sending him little care packages whenever I could. One of them was this mini party in a box for his birthday.

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The small 5in x 5in x 5in box includes:

  • Mini birthday banner
  • Birthday pirate badge
  • Tiny party hat
  • Balloon
  • Jar of candy
  • Confetti with instructions on how to distribute it
  • Candles (including ones that remind him of his “old age”)
  • Polymer clay cake and an itty bitty pastry box
  • Small wrapped birthday present
  • An “It’s Your Birthday!” sign that I repurposed from a bookmark

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The clay cake was a new area for me. I make real cakes all the time but making a miniature cake from clay was a totally different experience. I watched a few tutorials to get the hang of working with polymer clay for tiny food, but it was still much harder than I expected! I have new respect for the adorable clay food jewelry I see on Etsy and Tiny Hands Food Jewelry. The pastry box was much easier. I just found a cake box template online and then downsized it and cut it out of pink card stock. Even the glue marks that were left on the paper looked like authentic grease spots!

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For the mini party hat, I made a circle by tracing a bowl onto the patterned paper I wanted to use. I cut it out and then cut it in half. Next I wrapped the half circle into a cone and glued it together. When the glue was dry, I hot glued a sparkly pom onto the top. I attached the strings to the sides by tying them to small holes I punched on either side of the hat.

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Luckily, my boyfriend puts up with all my crafty projects and may even enjoy them.

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Do you do anything special for holidays or birthdays for friends and family who live far away? I’d love to hear some of your ideas for care packages!

****Disclosure: I am a Tiny Hands Ambassador.  I make a small commission from Tiny Hands sales made from my Facebook page.**** 
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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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****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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