“A Fungus Among Us” Flatbread

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The wife and I live in a geographic location very famous for mushrooms. It has its pros and cons. We have grown used to the fresh smell of manure on any day at any time. However, we have also come accustomed to cheap-ass mushrooms that have great flavor. We are so spoiled. Or so we thought.

We heard a random knock on our door this weekend and I opened it to one of my wife’s former co-workers with a box full of shitake and oyster mushrooms. We thought we were mushroom snobs before with our $2.50 5 pound bags of white, portabella, and crimini mushrooms. But this took it to a new level. “Just let me know when you run out,” she says. Oh…we will. Clearly, you’ll be hearing more about mushrooms in the coming weeks. Tonight was an easy one – a quick yet sophisticated flatbread.

“A Fungus Among Us” Mushroom-Balsamic Flatbread

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Ingredients

  • Shitake and Oyster Mushrooms (any will do – but these do have great flavor w/the balsamic)
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Flatbread (homemade or store bought)
  • Julienned Red Onion (to your tasted and amount of flatbreads)
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Romano Cheese
  • Roasted Garlic

Cooking

Preheat oven to 375 or directed temp.

  1. Put freshly roasted garlic down on the flatbread (spread if you wish) and top with the onion
  2. Sprinkle fungus throughout the flatbread evenly.
  3. Sprinkled mozzarella and romano evenly on top
  4. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes or directed time
  5. Drizzle balsamic glaze on top like a damn pro

If you really like it crispy, pre-bake the flatbread before putting all the toppings on and then bake again. Goes well with a nice big glass of your favorite red wine. This meal is an EASY way to make a nice dinner after work in little time. One flatbread was actually pretty filling for me and I would definitely have it again. Reheats well for the next day’s lunch as well.

Braised Hunter’s Chicken

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Cold winter weekend nights are the perfect time for a slow-cooked meal. Chili is often a favorite, stews, roasts, you name it. We’re on a budget and cut out eating out, so we wanted a homestyle restaurant-quality meal for dinner. After going back and forth between pork, beef, and chicken, we compromised and decided on chicken thighs. After some brainstorming and the chef-like brains of my wife, hunter’s chicken was created. And it was delicious.

Hunter’s chicken can really be whatever you want it to be. Apparently, it comes from Northern Italy with many variations. Dark meat works best, but other than that it can pretty much be a free-for-all. The wife made this with a mix of veggies, broth, and some red wine. Top it on a bed of polenta and BOOM.

Braised Hunter’s Chicken

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Ingredients

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • 3 Carrots (diced)
  • 2 Cups Red Wine
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Large Tomato (diced)
  • 1 Cup Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Sprigs Rosemary
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
  • Flour

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 325

  1. Season chicken thighs and dredge in flour. Add olive oil to a dutch oven and brown on all sides on high heat. Remove chicken thighs.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and garlic, cooking 2-3 minutes. Pour in the vino, scrape and stir the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper, tomato, mushrooms.
  4. Add chicken and herbs, put on the lid, and cook in oven for 1 hr and 40 minutes.
  5. Serve on top of polenta, wild rice, or mashed potatoes.

Winter Exchange Beer Selection: Shiner Winter Cheers

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I’m behind. Apparently I’m so well known for enjoying beer and booze that everyone decided to get me just that for Christmas. Not that I’m complaining – I have at least two cases of beer that are still waiting to be cracked open. I finally got to opening my winter exchange box and I’m starting to pick my favorites. Off to our first brew – the Shiner Winter Cheers. Shiner Winter Cheers is known as a class winter brew with powerful fruity notes. Here we go…cheers!

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Endless Cocktails: Almond Joy

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On occasion, my wife and I like to pretend we are well-to-do snobs that get bored easily with all the money we have. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by various wineries, so we go every now and then for tastings (and always end up buying some wine). One weekend while at the shore, we stopped at a place in South Jersey. They had all kinds of different wines and an almond wine particularly “struck our fancy.” We were both surprised by how much we liked it. Additionally, the winery advertised that it goes very well in an Almond Joy Cocktail. BONUS.

We’ve been saving it for a time that others will enjoy it, knowing that neither of us will be able to kill a bottle of Almond Joy solely by drinking Almond Joy Cocktails. That day finally came. Almond Joy Cocktails all around! While I didn’t think it tasted exactly like an Almond Joy, others did. I did taste all components, just not as an Almond Joy. Maybe it is because I have a such a refined palate…yes. Anyway, try it out for yourself and let us know what you think!

Almond Joy Cocktail

2 parts almond wine
1 part coconut rum
1 part chocolate liqeuor

Add all ingredients to a mixer. Add ice. Shake well. Pour into the fanciest and prettiest cocktail glass you have. Call it your own recipe. Impress your friends.

Kale Overboard! Top 10 Things to Do with Kale

DAMNIT. I’ve finally succumbed to the Kale trend. I will eat the brittle green leaves in various dishes (never juice though – never). I particularly enjoy creamed Kale. But I can appreciate the nutritional value and even the flavor of Kale when it is done right. So there…I’m putting my white flag up halfway to the trendy, hipster, “eat green, eat clean” health food nuts. But again – no juice. Anyway, here are our top 10 Kale dishes to try out.

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10. Red Quinoa Butternut Squash Stew

Now look at this fine kale specimen. It includes the tastes of kale, complemented by savory flavors. However, the rough green leaves are not poking your eye out. Bonus: it tastes delicious.

 

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9. Smokey-Sweet Autumn Breakfast Hash

I am a breakfast lover. I believe anyone who is not is wrong. This keeps breakfast satisfying while also giving a nice boost of fiber.

 

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8. Warm Fall Kale Salad

This salad is great on a fall or winter day and you’re running out of proteins in the freezer.
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7. Jamaican Jerk Kale Chips

The ONLY way I will eat or attempt to make kale chips.

 

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6. Kale and Carrot Salad

Why not add some sprouts and carrots to your kale and nuts? Huh?

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5. Coconut Kale Quinoa

Think of this as a side to braised beef or short rib. Salivating? You should be.

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4. Kale and Quinoa Bites

Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Put kale in a delicious muffin. Call it healthy. Win. Check it out at Wonky Wonderful.

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3. Cheesy Bacon Kale Stuffed Chicken

“What’s for dinner tonight” sometimes make me run for the salad bag and seeking out some chicken in the freezer. But this is a recipe that’s easy to implement. It may even impress. (Via Julie’s Eats & Treats)

es-roasted_garlic_kale_hummus_and_let_them_eat_kale_giveaway_2The Roasted Root

2. Roasted Garlic Kale Hummus 

Beet hummus, garlic hummus, pepper hummus, the list goes on. Why not try some garlic kale hummus this time? (Via The Roasted Root)

es-best-garlicky-kale-bacon-pizza-recipe-copyJust A Taste

1. Garlicky Kale and Bacon Pizza

We typically have some pizza dough, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese in the fridge/freezer for those days we feel lazy. But sometimes a plain cheese pizza is not enough. How ’bout these kale leaves? (Via Just A Taste)

Endless Beer: Dark Water IPA

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Alright kids; number two from my beer trade is a black IPA. Black IPA sounds odd to many people. What it means is that it is a beer that keeps the “integrity” of an IPA, but also has the malty profile of a dark beer. Black IPAs come in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. For me, the key to a quality black IPA is having the hop-forward flavor without losing the dark color of the beer and the sweet malt flavor of a dark beer. Some will go too many hops or too little hops. The key is balance (kind of ironic in an IPA). Imperial Oak Brewing Company offers us a black IPA weighing in at 90 IBUs (pretty average for an IPA). Anyway, here’s the flavors!

ABV:9%

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Black, nearly opaque with tan head

Aroma: Hops and biscuity

Taste: Roasted malts in the front – mixture of coffee and bitter chocolate, followed by strong hop flavor. Hop bitterness holds throughout, balanced by the roasted malt flavor. Slight notes of caramel in the back end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: Definitely an above average black IPA. The flavors are well thought-out and keep me wanting more after each sip. Has the definite profile of an IPA with the roasted malty flavor typically coming from such a dark beer.

Endless Rating: 4.25/5 Suds

Endless Pairings:

Cheese: Buttermilk Blue with crustini, grapes, and dried apricot

Appetizer: Buffalo Wings

Entree: Grilled pork chop with spinach and acorn squash

Dessert: Chocolate cake

Cigar: CAO Sol

Ooey, Gooey, Better-Than-Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

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Ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls. Isn’t that the only way cinnamon rolls should be described? Hot damn. My wife (Italian) overdoes herself in almost all cooking and baking endeavors (to my advantage typically). One day, we received a shipment of flour and all other sorts of baking materials. Of course, my scrooge-like instincts kicked in and asked “what the hell do we need all of this for?” The response was cinnamon rolls. Skeptical, I muttered this and that under my breath and hauled in yet another package from our porch to the spare bedroom.

Weeks later, Christmas morning came along and these amazing cinnamon rolls were served. Holy crap. I never need to even salivate at the thought of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll in the mall. These will do the trick every time. The dough was moist  and buttery, breaking apart by pulling at it with your fingers. The cinnamon filling was so good I could eat it alone. Usually, the table fights for the icing, but every ounce of this thing was spot on. Of course, speaking of icing, the cream cheese icing was a great balance to the cinnamon filling. I think each one of us hacked away at two in one sitting.

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