The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 49

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 49 covers a pretty busy week, a really productive weekend and my thoughts on the passing of the legendary Harold Ramis.

If you haven’t seen Harold Ramis flicks like Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Animal House, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation or Stripes, you should do that immediately. Head on over to UnitedMonkee.com to check out my 2009 interview with the man.

I’m not sure how well I described the fabric bookshelves I was talking about, but my wife was rad enough to send along the Penny Carnival link so you can all check it out. mysterious tadpole

The book I couldn’t remember the title of is the excellent Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg.

The gender episode I mentioned was #39 if you were curious. kidswitch

The Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval goes to the Kid Switch extender. If it sounds like something you’re looking for check out their website.

As of this posting, my latest appearance on Matt & Brett Love Comics hasn’t gone up (

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

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 48

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The 48th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast recounts my experiences down at Toy Fair (sore feet and all) and our strange developments with the potty and bathtub.

Doesn’t seem like I mentioned much in the way of link-worthy notes, but I hope you still enjoy the show!

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

Cooking Smitten Kitchen’s Chicken Pho

In a strange twist of fortune, I made one of my favorite meals in ages on a day I didn’t feel like taking pictures. A few weeks back, I saw Smitten Kitchen’s new recipe for Chicken Pho and was instantly interested in giving it a shot. I remembered seeing something on this Vietnamese soup on a travel food show, most likely an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and have been interested in trying it ever since.

At first, I was a bit skeptical because I have an aversion to working with full chickens. They just seem like so much work. But my intrigue trumped my laziness and I spent one day a few weekends back following this recipe very closely. The only ingredients I didn’t include were sprouts and black cardamoms because I couldn’t find them at my grocery store. I even bought some star anise and used about five of them for my broth. I can’t quite remember the exact measurements I used for cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel seeds or ground cloves, but I think I was in the teaspoon-per arena.

With those few variables in place, I followed the recipe by charring the onion and ginger on my gas stovetop, let the stock cook for several hours and got as much chicken off the bones as possible. I wish I was a better food writer to properly explain to you how good this broth turned out. It had so much depth of flavor thanks to the combination of sweet, salty, tangy and even a bit of sour that I wanted to eat it all day. You throw in some well cooked chicken, rice noodles, crispy fried shallots (which I should have cooked a bit longer as mine didn’t get too crispy) and the rest of the garnishes and you’ve got one of the best, most unique meals I’ve made in a very long time.

Recipe Roundup: Smitten Kitchen

baked-pasta-with-broccoli-rabe-and-sausage2As I said in a recent post compiling various recently attempted recipes from the site Closet Cooking, I’ve tried a lot of recipes in the past several months and done very little posting, so it’s time to go through the images, write down my spotty memories and get these things out there into the internet where they will hopefully jog my memory later on and encourage other people to give them a try. This batch of three all come from the cooking site I’ve been following the longest: Smitten Kitchen!

Chicken Tacos

I’m always interested in checking out a new recipe for tacos and this certainly fit the bill. I don’t think I’d ever made chicken ones before and the flavor on these were pretty solid if memory serves. I especially like the way you cook the chicken which is fairly hands-off and super easy. Combine all ingredients in a pan and boil for a half hour. This gives you plenty of time to chop up the rest of your taco fixins. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t make the salsa fresca that’s also mentioned in the post. Instead I whipped up a crema (sour cream combined with avocado, salt, oil, onion and some green Tabasco). One of these days I’d like to give this one a shot with bone-in chicken because I understand there’s more flavor there.

Baked Pasta With Broccoli Rabe & Sausage

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Apparently I only snapped a few pictures when I tried out this recipe. I remember this being a pretty easy thing to put together and the results being a kind of sausage-y, rabe-y mac and cheese and there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, seeing this recipe again makes me want to give it another try in the next few weeks.

Pasta With White Beans

While I only snapped two pictures of the previous meal, I can’t seem to find a single image from either of the two times I made Pasta with White Beans (I skipped the rosemary oil because my wife is not a fan of that particular herb). Another easy meal to put together thanks to all the food processing, I really enjoyed the flavors combined for this recipe, but will note that all those beans can lead to some evenings punctuated by the most musical of fruits.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 47

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 47 is all about our recent vacation in Walt Disney World. This one’s got detailed information about the Grand Floridian Vacation Club Villa tubs, the super long wait to see the princesses from Frozen and digging out after we got back.

The Disney Jr. character breakfast I mentioned in Hollywood Studios is at the restaurant Hollywood & Vine.

I still haven’t had a chance to download all the pictures off of our camera because of space issues, but you’ll see them as I get caught up on Photo Diaries.

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

Cooking Closet Cooking’s Fully Loaded Hasselback Potatoes

From the age of 16 until I moved out to New York to start working for Wizard, I worked in a bagel shop in my home town of Toledo, Ohio called The Bagel Place, but everyone called it Barry’s Bagels. In addition to the circular bread delights so popular out here in New York, they also served sandwiches, soup, a variety of offerings on the salad bar and baked potatoes. Depending on what position you were working on a particular day, you were either making these things in the back, preparing them for customers up front or throwing away the remnants in the bussing room.

One of the unexpected treats of working there (at least for the first few years) was a pretty solid list of free food you can have on break. While I wasn’t overly familiar with baked potatoes before that, I became quite adept at creating a variety of options for customer and myself. What do you expect from a bunch of kids with access to a ton of food who get tired of eating the same thing over and over again?

This is a long winded way of saying that, when I saw a recipe on Closet Cooking for something called Fully Loaded Hasselback Potatoes, I was intrigued, especially because that super starchy part of my life mostly came to an end when I moved east as  a young man. The basic idea of the Hasselback is you thinly slice a potato about 4/5 of the way down the tuber, top them with garlic and butter and bake them. Before they’re done, you pull them out, sprinkle with cheese and bacon, pop back in and then serve with sour cream and chives.

I’ve actually cooked these a few times now and have tried a few different variations. The first time, I didn’t cut the slices thin enough, which meant they didn’t cook evenly. I also melted the butter and poured them over the potato before baking. The second time I went thinner which made for more evenly cooked tuber slices. I think I also mistakenly put the cheese on before baking which wasn’t the worst mistake in the world, but it definitely changed the flavor of the cheddar.

You could really do a lot with this basic recipe. At the Bagel Place, we sold broccoli and cauliflower potatoes as well as steak tips and gravy. Those are just two possibilities that could easily translate into the Hasselback format. And, if you think a potato isn’t quite meal-worthy, I’d challenge that assumption. One giant potato topped with cheese, bacon, chives and sour cream all cut up makes for a very hardy meal. Give it a whirl!

Recipe Roundup: Closet Cooking Part 1

As any regular readers will know, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. Unfortunately, with work and all kinds of other things going one — raising our two year old and prepping for a new little baby — MATK can fall to the wayside. But, I’m still cooking almost every night which means I have a huge backlog of meals to talk about going back to last fall. So, in an effort to try and document the good recipes I’ve tried out in the last few months, I figured I’d implement a new kind of a post called Recipe Roundup that will gather a bunch of meals from different places, throw in a few pics and do my best to remember how they turned out.

Today’s subject is one of my favorite new cooking sites, Closet Cooking which is great because there’s tons of older recipes on there and the site gets updated constantly. I also appreciate that Kevin Lynch seems to be cooking in a kitchen even smaller than mine which is no small feat. So, without further ado, hit the jump to check out the first batch of CC recipes I’ve tried out in the past few months!  Continue reading

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 46

pop poppa nap cast logoYes, we’re still in Disney World, but I recorded two episodes last week for your listening pleasure! The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 46 gives a behind the scenes look at my photo diary process and a run down of a usual day around here.

If you want to kick it old school and check out the very first Photo Diary, it was from January 17th, 2011.

Scope out James Kochalka’s American Elf.

If you’re looking for a new/good RSS feed reader, I recommend Feedly.

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