Bonus Food Pics: Gyro & The Mack Trucker Melt From P&G

gyroLast weekend, my wife, daughter and I went to the New Windsor Community Day event which was packed with various food vendors. If I’m in the vicinity of a good looking gyro (pronounced yee-ro), I’ve got to have one. I forgot to note the name of the place selling them, but I think they just do events like this and weren’t representing a restaurant. Anyway, this was a solid pita with meat carved from the spit and dosed with a good deal of tzatziki sauce and got the thumbs up. Even Lu dug the lamb, which was a bit of a surprise. p & g mack truck burger melt

The next day, we went to New Paltz to do some walking around. Before that, though, we stopped at P&G’s because I was jonesing for a beer or two with my meal. I decided on The Mack Truck Burger Melt which was described as, “8 oz. of freshly ground Black Angus beef charbroiled and topped with homemade macaroni and cheese, nestled in a grilled cheese sandwich.” This seemed like a good idea at the time, but didn’t mix well with the press of coffee I’d had that morning, the two beers during lunch and the coffee I had afterwards. Also, I’ve got to say, the sandwich was a tiny bit bland, which I wasn’t expecting. Still, I not only want to try this again, but also want to make one of my own. Finally, the onion rings were killer!

 

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Forgotten Food: Smitten Kitchen’s Bowties With Sugar Snaps, Lemon & Ricotta

It’s always a bummer when I can’t remember how a dish came out. It’s even worse when it’s a Smitten Kitchen one like Bowties With Sugar Snaps, Lemon & Ricotta because I remember it being good, I just can’t remember any of the details. I mean, it’s got ricotta and peas (had to go with frozen because that’s what I’ve got) and lemon, so I know it’s good, plus I’ve got an almost 100% success rate with recipes from that site. It’s just been too long and I can’t remember! Still, I’m posting this because the pics came out well and I want to return to it later on down the line.

Cooking Tacos Al Pastor With Grilled Pineapple Salsa

I don’t quite remember how I came across the recipe for Tacos A Pastor With Grilled Pineapple Salsa on My Recipes, but I did. I think I was looking for something to make out of pork tenderloin because it was on sale at the grocery store. Anyway, the only change I made to the directions involved cooking the pork on a cast iron skillet instead of a grill because, well, I don’t have a grill. I also cut out the cilantro and the chipotle chili because they run a bit too hot for my liking.

The prep for this is pretty simple. Create a rub, cover the pork chops and throw them on the grill pan. Meanwhile, there’s the salsa. I grilled the pineapple before the meat so I’d be able to work on that while the meat cooked. Again, this was a super simple process. I also cut up some limes and shredded some cheddar cheese. With all that done, it was time to eat!

I enjoyed the tanginess of the pineapple salsa which bounced well off of the spicy-ish pork. Everything played well together, making this a pretty solid choice if you’re looking to mix things up with the taco portion of your menu.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 25

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 25 runs the gamut, talking about two different kinds of Spider-Man, enjoying That 70s Show with Lucy and The League on my own and lots and lots of free plugs for Netflix.

famous covers spider-man nap time

Apparently you can still buy Famous Covers Spider-Man and Electro 2-pack on Amazon!

I reviewed the first two seasons of FX’s The League over on UnitedMonkee.com. The fourth season hits Netflix on September 3rd and the fifth season kicks off on FXX the next day.

To read the full 10 Ways Living With A Toddler Is Like Being In Prison, head on over to HuffPo.Itchy_&_Scratchy_&_Marge_33

I’m embarrassed to say that I referred to Marge as Maggie while talking about The Simpsons episode “Itchy & Scratchie & Marge.” Let’s blame it on the cold, shall we?

uncle ben amazing spider-man

The Pop Poppa Of The Week is none other than Uncle Ben as played by Martin Sheen in The Amazing Spider-Men, a film I reviewed over on UnitedMonkee.com.

pocoyo

Peep Pocoyo and his pals above.

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To see the Disney cartoons I mentioned, check out Walt Disney Animation Vol. 1: Mickey And The Beanstalk and Vol. 3: The Prince & The Pauper.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Cooking Rachael Ray’s Bacon Burger Mac N Cheese


Our two year old daughter loves macaroni and cheese. I mean, who doesn’t, right? But she’s all over it. In fact, the dish holds such a special place in her tiny little head that pretty much everything with noodles is “macos and cheese” to her. As such, I’ve been looking around for various ways of cooking mac and cheese and seem to not be doing a great job of it. The general problem I keep running into is that cheddar’s just not doing it for me on the creamy scale. I’ve got to come up with something else to throw in there that really brings that out, but until then, I’m keeping track of the recipes I like in hopes that I can return to them later on and really knock them out with a few different cheeses.

Rachael Ray’s Bacon Burger Mac N Cheese is one such recipe. The only deviations I made from the recipe included replacing a bit of the milk with water (which is another factor in the creaminess factor) and I also ground up my own beef. Aside from that it was business as usual.

While I wished it was cheesier, the resulting dish was still super tasty. I enjoyed the bacon in there — adding one of the best foods to one of the best dishes just makes sense when you ponder it — and think the fresh ground beef added a fresher note, but I was also surprised with how much I enjoyed the faint hints at ketchup and mustard in the dish.

It might sound strange, but I’d really like to try this dish with more homemade and locally sourced ingredients. Beef and bacon from a local farm, some homemade ketchup and pasta and even some local cheese. I think you could have something really special and hearty hear with a few alterations.

Making Kitchen Treaty’s Orange Spiced Iced Coffee

P1100435A few weeks ago I went on a digital search for iced coffee recipes. I drink at least one full French press full of caffeinated goodness every day, but sometimes I want a cooler alternative. I stumbled upon a cool website called Kitchen Treaty that has a recipe for Orange Spice Iced Coffee. I was sold, let’s do this!

The coffee itself is super easy to make. You take one cup of coffee grounds — I drink Chock Full O Nuts Dark Satin because it sounds mysterious — and put it in a container with four cups of water. After 12 hours, you strain and put it in the fridge. Easy peasy. I also prepared a regular press of coffee and made coffee cubes.

Then came the real work: making the orange spice simple syrup. For this you throw the ingredients into a small pot, boil for a while and strain out all the chunky stuff. I don’t usually go for sweetness in my coffee, but there’s something about cold coffee that makes me want a little something extra in there besides the bitterness that fuels my mornings. This simple syrup isn’t overly sweet and definitely carries some different notes thanks to the orange peel and cinnamon.

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With everything made and in the refrigerator/freezer, you have the ability to make s delightful, cold, coffee beverage whenever you want! I followed the recipe pretty closely for putting these together with the cup of coffee, two tablespoons of syrup, a few coffee cubes and a bit of milk to fill the glass. Now that I’ve done it a few times, I’ve shifted over to eyeballing things, but I love having these things on hand and actually need to pop in the kitchen and make some more of the coffee.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 24

pop poppa nap cast logo

The most recent episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast deals with out most recent trip to New Hampshire, some new developments in our household and a brief tribute to author Elmore Leonard.

The name of the place we visited in Maine is called York’s Wild Kingdom and the restaurant we ate at is Inn On The Blues .

If you’re interested in reading the panel report about Brian K. Vaughan, Grant Morrison and Jonathan Hickman talking about writing, it’s over on CBR.

Here’s a cool page of Scott McDaniel Nightwing art where he showed motion using static figures all in one panel. He’s one of my favorites.

Nightwing Scott McDaniel

Head on over to CircleOfLifeSite.com if you’re interested in checking out Miracle Heal Herbal Salve.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Steak Sandwiches

To save some cash, I’ve been trying to base my weekly menus off of what’s on sale at my preferred grocery store. A few weeks back my store had loin steak on sale so I went to Smitten Kitchen, threw it in the search and discovered her recipe for Steak Sandwiches.

The meal is super easy to put together. I whipped up the Mustard Mayo first and put it aside, then got to work on the steak and onions which were not only easy to cook (basically throw in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper), but only dirtied one pan! Once done, you cut your steak and lay out your spread — the arugala, two kinds of cheddar and the Mustard Mayo — and you’ve got dinner. I really enjoyed the simple combination of mayo and mustard. At some point in the future, I will attempt this with homemade mayo.P1200000

I also enjoyed the leftovers for this meal as you can see in the very last image. While I don’t usually go for sandwiches for dinner, I liked the simple and easy leftovers this preparation created. I basically recreated the sandwich, put it under the broiler for a few minutes and had a tasty and dynamic dish.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 23

pop poppa nap cast logo

The 23rd episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast deals with keys, phones, potties and more!

keys

Above you can see my keys and the dog leash swivel clip I was talking about. Like I said, any clip-type key chain will work!

scooby doo knight

Lu thought THIS guy was Superman! I’m gonna have my work cut out for me with this kid.

emos potty time

If you have a kid at potty training age who also likes Elmo and Sesame Street, do yourself a favor and buy Sesame Street – Elmo’s Potty Time.

boardbook

This week the Board Book Photo Album – Black gets the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval!

elmo and his dad

And congrats to Elmo’s dad for earning the Pop Poppa Of The Week!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Making Asian Brussels Sprouts Salad

One of the problems with ripping recipes out of magazines and putting them in my Big Blue Binder is that, occasionally, I miss the overall point of a group of recipes, focusing mainly on the one that sounds interesting to me at the time. So, when I decided to make Asian Brussels Sprouts Salad as seen in the free Hannaford magazine I focused on making a tasty-sounding, vegetarian dish that might be easy to put together in the heat we lived through last month. I didn’t, however, focus on the fact that this might actually be more of a side dish than a main meal.

Of course, I didn’t realize that until I was already knuckle deep in Brussels sprout shavings, but what are you gonna do? As I realized when I made Pasta With Chicken & Brussels Sprouts, the sprouts are basically like tiny cabbages once you start cutting them up. I should have made that connection again and realized this is basically a cole slaw with an Asian kick, much like the side salad I wrote about earlier this week when I talked about the Crispy Sesame-Panko Chicken.

Anyway, we wound up eating this for dinner and it was pretty good, but as I’ve hinted at, would make a much better addition to a meal than a meal itself.  As the recipe suggests, I shredded the full pound of Brussels sprouts by hand on the box shredder, but my wife had a great suggestion that I’ll try next time: run them through the meat grinder. I’ve never used my grinder for anything but meat, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work out smashingly, but if you do, let me know in the comment section.

With that out of the way, you simply mix the dressing ingredients together in a jar, throw in some peanuts and herbs and mix everything together. While I thought this was good the first day, the sour lime and salty soy flavors developed a lot more in the leftover portion of its existence making for a more powerful punch. I’d recommend making this a few hours — if not a day — in advance for that reason.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 22

pop poppa nap cast logo

It’s another roller coaster of emotions on this week’s Pop Poppa Nap Cast as I recount taking Lu to day care so I could interview Stan Lee, some of the things that have been bumming me out lately and then ending with Lu’s newly converted big girl bed.

You can read how my Stan Lee interview went over on CBR.

Here‘s the post I wrote about the cool new Mickey Mouse cartoons.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Bonus Food Pic: 2 Alices’ Iced Coffee & Homemade Pop Tart

2 alices homemade pop tart

Anyone who knows me or reads Monkeying Around The Kitchen on a regular basis already knows that I’m not a big fan of dessert or sweets. I’d rather eat an appetizer or more of my entree than save room for dessert. That’s just how I’m built. But, there are a few sweet treats I just can’t resist. Pop Tarts are on that list. But, because I’m an adult who knows how bad they are for you, it’s been ages since I bought any for myself.

A month or two back, I stopped into my beloved 2 Alices in Cornwall. This is the place I used to go and work to get out of the house before we had our daughter. Their coffee is some of the best I’ve ever had, but they do have a variety of bakery treats on display as well. I was surprised and intrigued when I first saw the Homemade Pop Tarts. I wasn’t in the mood at the time, so passed it up. Another time, I saw they had the regular ones as well as cinnamon — my favorite take on the Pop Tart theme — but again, I didn’t partake.

Last Friday, however, Lu was in day care so I could do an interview with comic book legend Stan Lee. I decided to finish my work for the day at the coffee shop and indulged myself in a few of their iced coffees and one Homemade Pop Tart. Man, it was great! They nailed the icing the filling was even better than the overly processed thing that lives inside the brand name counterpart. Also, not for nothing, it was about two-to-three times bigger than your average Pop Tart. It wound up being the perfect combination of sugar from the treat and caffeine from the coffee to get me through my work, pick the kid up, get home and make a dinner of Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Saltimbocca and Couscous-Stuffed Peppers With Basil Sauce for my parents who had driven in from Michigan.

Forgotten Food: Chile-Chicken Posole

Once again I have a post about a dish that I think was pretty good, but has been forgotten thanks to a lack of timely posting and lots and lots of meals between then and now. I think I was looking around for something chili-esque on Food Network’s website, came across this recipe for Chile-Chicken Posole and went with it.

It looks like the only changes I made were getting rid of the cilantro, which my wife isn’t a fan of, and using a poblano pepper instead of a jalapeno. I have no idea if that’s a swap that makes sense, but I don’t like a lot of heat, so I tend to avoid non-popper jalapenos.

Aside from that, it looks like the rest was business as usual: cook the chicken in olive oil, do the same with the onion and pepper, throw a bunch of stuff in the food processor and then put everything together in a big pot for a while.

Something in my brain tells me that we enjoyed this meal, which is the main reason I’m writing about it here. It’s basically like leaving a message for my future self:

“Dude, try the posole again and, this time, WRITE ABOUT IT!”

There, hopefully that will do the trick.

Cooking Crispy Sesame-Panko Chicken

My parents’ house is directly behind a Chinese restaurant that we ordered from with some frequency. You might think with such easy access that I would have been well-versed in the country’s delicacies by an early age, but that wasn’t the case. Why? Because I only wanted to eat white rice with soy sauce. I don’t remember exactly how long this went on for, but definitely longer than someone who writes about food with some regularity would like to admit. Sometime in college or maybe high school I was turned on to the tastiness of Chinese carry food and have been hooked ever since.

Like a lot of people, I’m a big Sesame Chicken fan. I’ve even done some research into making the dish at home, especially with my growing wok experience. But, it’s a fairly complicated dish, if memory serves and, sometimes you just want to save a dish for nights when you’re not cooking, you know? But, I was intrigued when I saw the recipe for Crispy Sesame-Panko Chicken in my now-expired free Good Housekeeping subscription.

One of the best parts of this recipe is that, if you cook anything vaugley Asian on a semi-regular basis, you probably have the majority of the ingredients on hand. The only thing I bought for this was the cabbage. Everything else was in the pantry, fridge or freezer. It’s also pretty easy to put together.

The recipe says to get the chicken and oven ready first, but I didn’t go that way. I don’t have a lot of space to work with, so I try to tackle sides and condiments first. That meant that I whipped up the cabbage salad first. The main effort here comes from cutting up a cabbage. Once that’s done, throw it in a bow with green onion, sugar, vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, salt and pepper. I got that in the fridge to let everything mingle and then whipped up the simple ketchup serving sauce minus the cayenne. With those out of the way — literally — it was time for the chicken. First step: oven to 450 degrees.

Again, this isn’t a difficult process, but it did take some space. I like to use pie dishes for my egg wash/crumb chicken dishes. They’ve got the right surface area and higher sides so I don’t have to worry about spilling grossness all over my counter. Dip the fat-trimmed chicken breasts in the egg/garlic powder/dry mustard/ginger/pepper mix then into the panko/sesame seed crumblies before placing on a baking sheet (I went foil-covered as usual). Those go into the 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes and get nice and crunchy. That’s enough time to get your slaw and sauce together if you were so inclined, but I’d rather do my work up front and have a little relaxation time while the oven does its job.

The chicken doesn’t have that sugary, stickiness I’ve come to know and love from Sesame Chicken, but it does remind my tongue and brain enough to hit some of the right buttons, maybe not as hard as the real deal, but enough for a tasty dish. The slaw was nice and tangy, the kind of thing you could slow together for any Asian main dish (man, it’d be good on tacos!). The ketchup also added a really nice tangy element to the party. Altogether I’d say this is a good way to go for a solid meal that might open up the door to more Asian-inspired entrees in the future. I bet even my younger self would have passed up the white rice/soy sauce combo to give this a shot.

Six Reasons The New Mickey Mouse Shorts Are Fantastic

mickey donaldI’m not sure about your kid’s viewing habits, but when mine isn’t watching a Disney DVD or Blu-ray, she’s got her eyes glued to the Disney Channel. She started off as a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan which lead into her watching and enjoying all the other animated offerings the network has including Sofia The First and Doc McStuffins.  She’s even become quite familiar with the live action shows like Good Luck Charlie, Jesse and the rest. In the past month or so, Disney unveiled a series of new shorts featuring classic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. At first I wasn’t sure what to think because the cartoons looked so different than what I’m used to, but I’ve got to say, I’ve become a huge fan and here’s why in a handy list format!

1. It’s Made By Quality Creators

I did a little looking around and discovered that the new Mickey Mouse shorts are executive produced and directed by Paul Rudish. Rudish’s isn’t a name I knew at first glance, but one look at his resume and you understand why these mini-toons are so good. He helped create Dexter’s Laboratory. And Samurai Jack. And The Powerpuff Girls. And Star Wars: Clone Wars. Rudish also put together a solid writing staff that includes Ramon Sanchez (Count DuckulaTales From The Crypt), Derek Dressler (Kick Buttowski), Aaron Springer (Samurai JackSpongebob Squarepants) and Clay Morrow (Dexter’s LaboratoryChowder). That’s a lot of talent that have come together to create a series that mixes the old and new in terms of the visual, audio and thematic side of things, concepts that make up the rest of the list.

2. It’s Not Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

mickey mouse clubhouse

All due respect to the long-running show that my toddler and millions of others could watch all day long, but the sugary sweet niceness of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse doesn’t exactly go out of its way to be even remotely entertaining to the parents who find themselves watching along. Plus, as good as that show looks with its computer generated animation, it’s so great seeing Mickey and his pals drawn in a more traditional animated style. If you’re worried that your kid might not understand the difference between the two, take this bit of anecdotal evidence into consideration: my two year old loves both versions.

3. It Looks New

daisy minnie mickey

Speaking of the new style, I like it. I get that the more exaggerated look might not appeal to everyone, but I’m glad Disney took a chance on something we haven’t seen before. And, trust me, we’ve seen a lot of different takes on these characters, so that’s saying something. This reminds me of the spirit Walt Disney had where he was always looking for new ways to do things. Whether intentional or not, this shift in style is an homage to Walt.

4. It Sounds Familiar

Since they decided to take a chance on the look of the series, it makes sense that Rudish and company decided to go with the classic-sounding voices for stars Mickey, Donald, Minnie and Goofy. While the looks of the characters have changed over the years, the voices have stayed relatively the same or at least similar. We’re used to seeing different versions, but we’re not used to hearing wildly different takes. It’s important to have some kind of connection to the legacy of these characters that’s recognizable. In this case, it’s the voice actors who happen to be the same folks who do Clubhouse, aside from Mickey performer Chris Diamantopoulos who replaced Clubhouse‘s Bret Iwan as the titular rodent.

5. It’s Funny!

I can’t tell you how rare it is for me to actually laugh at something seen on Disney Channel. Sometimes there are cute little moments on the cartoons or the occasional so-incredibly-stupid-it’s-laughable gag on one of the over-the-top live action shows. But, these new Mickey Mouse shorts keep me in stitches the whole time. If you’re a fan of the old Disney cartoons, classic Looney Tunes shorts or any of the shows the staff worked on previously, then I can almost guarantee you’ll get a kick out of Mickey and the gang.

6. It’s Not TOO Nice

Going back to the first point here, these shorts aren’t squeaky clean. The one I just saw, called “Stayin’ Cool,” found Mickey, Donald and Goofy trespassing on several different locations for a perfectly selfish reasons: beating the heat. The characters aren’t dark and gritty by any means, but Mickey’s back to his more mischievous roots which you can see if you go back and watch older Mickey cartoons. It’s another nod to the past that also honors what came before it.

The shorts run on Disney Channel at random times, but you can also head over to the Disney Shorts YouTube page to watch all the ones that have been released.