Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chocolate Covered Peppermint Popcorn

Chocolate covered popcorn is a great host or hostess gift for all the holiday parties going on this time of year. The only problem is that it is outrageously expensive to buy in store. Luckily for us, it is incredibly simple and easy to make, and really quick too. My second time making it took me just 20 minutes from walking through the door to a tray of delicious popcorn.

The directions I include are for making stove-top popcorn. If you have a popcorn popper, or another method you like better, please do whatever is most comfortable for you, this is just the method I like best since I don't have to store a unitasker and can just use the pots and pans I own.


2 T oil
⅓ C popcorn kernels
1 C dark candy making chocolate
¼ C peppermints, crushed


Popping the popcorn:

In your widest pan with a lid, pour in the oil and add a couple kernels of popcorn. When those kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn and place on the lid, making sure to keep it slightly ajar so the steam doesn't make the popcorn soggy. Shake the pan gently to make sure all of the kernels get coated with oil. Once the popcorn starts popping, make sure to shake the pan occasionally so that the unpopped kernels get even heat.

When the popping slows to 2 or 3 seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, but don't take the lid off until the popping stops entirely or you will be picking up a shower of popcorn from the kitchen floor. Once the popping has stopped, pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper, parchment paper, or my favorite, a silicone baking mat. Make sure to get the popcorn into 1 layer. Lightly salt the popcorn and then let it cool while you melt the chocolate.

Chocolate and peppermint:

Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 15 second intervals, stirring very thoroughly each time, until nice and liquid, about 90 degrees. With a spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn, making sure to get a bit on every piece. Before the chocolate cools, sprinkle on the crushed peppermints. Let the chocolate cool (I stick mine in the freezer to speed this up) and then break the popcorn pieces apart and store in airtight containment, or just eat it right away!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cranberry Mulled Cider

Well it's the holiday season, which means everyone is adding cranberry to things, and I am no exception! I started seeing cranberry apple cider for sale recently and decided to make my own. I poked around on the internet looking for a recipe for a while, trying to find one that wasn't simply dumping a bunch of cranberry juice (which is mostly apple juice anyway) into apple cider. I had bought all these cranberries in preparation and by golly I was going to use them! After searching my kitchen for some other flavor enhancers, I came up with this parts list:


½ gallon of apple cider
1 12 oz (by weight) package of cranberries
Zest of 1 lime
1 clementine or naval orange
1 sweet apple, sliced (I recommend a snapdragon)
5-6 star anise pods
3-4 short cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches)


Pour the cider into your slow cooker and set on low.

Add the cranberries, making sure to rinse them first, and the zest of 1 lime. I used a standard vegetable peeler to simply peel the zest off, making sure to avoid the white pith underneath as much as possible, but using a fine grater will work just as well (it just doesn't make as pretty a picture).

Peel 1 clementine and add the sections. I made sure to slightly break them so that there would be good flavor extraction. Feel free to simply cut up a clementine, but if you don't peel it, you will get more citrus from the rind so be sure to shorten your cook time. I used a clementine instead of a naval orange because they are in season right now, and there are a lot of strong flavors in this cider and it could use the sweetness of the clementine. If you're making this when clementines aren't in season, a naval orange will work just fine.

Add the sliced apple, star anise pods, and cinnamon, stir to combine, and let it cook on low for about 2 hrs. Serve and enjoy!

A note about cooking time: because cranberry is such a strong flavor, I recommend you start tasting the cider about 1.5 hrs in to make sure you haven't over-extracted. Make sure you stir it gently before tasting it because the flavors have a tendency to separate into layers since cinnamon sinks and cranberries float. If you find that you have over-extracted, don't panic, just add a bit of salt. Salt helps block bitter flavor receptors on the tongue. I've also simply added some more cider to help mellow a bitter quaff.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tres Cerditos Tacos (Three Little Pigs Pork Tacos)

My wife and I were visiting her best friend in NY when we stopped by this great gastropub called Prison City Pub and Brewery in Auburn, NY. (Whenever we are back up there, I'll probably do a full review.) I ordered a sandwich they call Three Little Pigs which is made of pork prepared 3 ways: pulled pork, ham, and bacon. I really enjoyed this so I decided to come up with my own version with a Mexican flair called Tres Cerditos Tacos. I did a bit of research into the ways pork is prepared in Mexico and I came up with my duo of tacos that contains pork three ways: carnitas, chorizo, and bacon.



1lb chorizo
½lb bacon
Corn tortillas

Recommended Toppings:

Chopped cilantro
Sliced avocado
Queso cotija
Fresh lime
Roasted tomato salsa


Cook the carnitas according to the recipe I previously posted here, and while it is resting prepare the other meats. Cook the pound of chorizo by either cooking the sausages and then chopping them, or, my personal favorite way, strip off the casings and cook the stuffing. If you can find uncased ground chorizo, that would be perfect but I have had a lot of difficulty finding that. Once cooked, set aside. Slice the bacon into thin bits and fry again, set aside and drain once finished. I recommend using the bacon grease to fry the carnitas.

Once you meats are all prepared, prepare your toppings. I recommend chopped cilantro, avocado slices, some fresh slices of lime, cotija cheese, crema, and my roasted tomato salsa. Cotija cheese is a crumbly Mexican cheese that has a similar texture to grated parmesan, but it doesn't melt. If you can't find it, feel free to use any cheese you usually like on your tacos, I suggest a combination of monterey jack, cheddar, and mozzarella. Crema, as I mentioned in my nachos recipe, is Mexican sour cream. Crema is more liquidy than sour cream so I like to store it in a squeeze bottle for easy serving. If you can't find crema, feel free to replace with sour cream.

Once all of the meats and toppings are ready to go, it's time to start making tacos! Place two soft corn tortillas and put a serving of carnitas in one and a serving of chorizo in the other. Sprinkle the carnitas with the bacon bits, and some cheese, then spritz with lime. Top the chorizo with some chopped cilantro, a few avocado slices, some of the cheese, and then squeeze on a little crema and spritz on some lime. Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Roasted Tomato Salsa

I've put quite a few salsa varieties on here and it looks like I'm not slowing down anytime soon. This one is really quite easy. Since you are blending the ingredients together you don't have to worry about getting carefull, bite sized pieces, you can use larger chunks which makes this a quicker, simpler salas to prep for.

You might notice there doesn't seem to be much salsa in the bowl in my picture. Well, my wife and I didn't have very good self control and started eating it before I had taken any pictures of the finished product. Don't worry, the recipe makes plenty, and if you have a larger skillet, it can be easily doubled.

5 roma tomatoes
1 jalapeno, sliced*
½ red onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
½ t of cumin
2 T of olive oil

Turn your broiler on high and move an oven rack to the 2nd highest position.

Cut the tomatoes in half, and place in a 10 inch cast iron skillet, add the jalapeno, onion, crushed garlic, and then stir in salt, pepper, and the cumin. Toss with the olive oil to coat.

Place under the broiler and roast, stirring every 3 minutes, until a light level of char builds on the edges of the tomatoes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temp before blending to a desired consistency.

Serve and enjoy or refrigerate to enjoy later.

*Don't worry about seeding the jalapenos, the high heat that they will be subjected to will dull the fire.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Carnitas, as anyone who frequents Chipotle will know, is Mexican pulled pork that is usually fried after it's cooked so it forms a nice crust. In Mexico is it usually confit or, slow cooked,  by simmering the pork in lard. I chose to go the more American route by just using a slow-cooker. These carnitas have way more flavor than anything you'll get at your usual burrito place and then go great in burritos, tacos, nachos, or a host of other Mexican dishes. My favorite part is that they make your whole house smell like a good Mexican restaurant.


3lb bone in pork shoulder
4 T of olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 t of dried oregano
2 t of cumin
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 orange, cut in half


Coat your pork shoulder with 2 T of the olive oil and then liberally cover with salt and pepper. Combine the oregano and the cumin and the rub onto the pork. Place your pork shoulder in your crockpot or slow cooker and then add the sliced jalapeno. You don't have to worry about seeding the jalapenos in this dish because they will cook for so long that most of the heat will be gone. Add the two sticks of cinnamon, and then squeeze the juice from each orange half onto the pork and then add the spent orange halves.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.

Once the pork is fork tender, remove for the pot and let is rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the other solids and discard. While to pork is resting, pour the cooking liquid in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat to reduce by half. Once the pork is rested, use forks to pull into bite sized shreds and then put the meat back in the crock pot. Add the reduced cooking liquid and then stir until is absorbed back into the meat.

In a 10 inch skillet, add the remaining 2 T of olive oil and heat it over medium high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the carnitas and cook until a light crust forms on the bottom. Remove from the heat and serve.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard

Chicken Nuggets

My friend Cody and I were hanging out at his apartment one afternoon when we realized we needed lunch. Cody didn't have much in his fridge for lunch making but he had some chicken breasts and some bread crumbs, we also found some honey mustard dressing and a good collection of spices and decided to try our hand at making our own nuggets. I refined the recipe and wanted to share it with all of you. Enjoy!


2 chicken breasts
½ C of honey mustard dressing
1.25 C of unseasoned panko breadcrumbs
2 t of mustard powder
½ t of cayenne powder
¼ t of ground black pepper
Canola oil or other vegetable oil for frying


Trim the chicken breasts and cut into nugget sized portions, about thumb size. Place in a plastic bag and pour in the dressing, smush the dressing around and make sure that each piece is getting some coverage. Let that marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Now to get everything ready for the frying. In a bowl mix together the dredge of breadcrumbs, mustard powder, cayenne powder, and black pepper. Make sure to mix thoroughly for even chicken dredging. Then, in a heavy bottom skillet, pour ¼ inch to ½ inch of canola oil and bring to a temp of 350-375 degrees. Also, now would be a great time to set up a draining station, some paper towels on a baking sheet will do.

While the oil heats up, start dredging your marinated chicken pieces in the panko dredge. Make sure you get good, even coverage on each piece for even cooking and crunch. Let the dredge set for a minute on each piece before frying.

Fry in small batches, making sure to not crowd the pan. Fry on each side for about 1 minute or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to the draining rig to remove excess oil and to let the breading set so it doesn't just come off in you hands as you eat.

Serve with some of the dressing (obviously not the stuff the chicken was marinating in) as a dipping sauce and enjoy! I like to serve mine with some baby carrots and cherry tomatoes to make a whole finger friendly meal.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patty's Day Shake

St. Patty's Shake

A few years ago I got to try a Guinness shake and I decided I was going to serve that at every St. Patrick's Day party I would ever have from then on. But, I decided I wanted to make them green so I took the opportunity to add a little more flavor, and a little more alcohol, by adding creme de menthe. Thus was born one of my favorite cocktails, a light green dessert, perfect for St Patrick's Day parties.


2 C of vanilla ice cream*
⅔ C of Irish stout
1.5 fluid oz of creme de menthe


Add all ice cream, Guinness, and creme de menthe into your blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy with a Guinness.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

*You can use any vanilla ice cream you want, but I would suggest a premium vanilla because the higher fat content and higher density makes for a smoother, tastier shake.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts

Quinoa Salad

I love quinoa, as I'm sure you can tell if you are a regular reader of my blog. But, I have generally limited myself to serving it as a hot side. With spring upon us and unseasonably warm temperatures here on the east coast, I decided to branch out and try my hand at making a cold quinoa salad. Quinoa is a wonderful grain for making cold salads since, unlike many other starches, it doesn't get rock hard once it gets cold.


1 C dry quinoa
2 C water
salt to taste
¾ C dried cranberries


Cook your cup of quinoa in the water and salt to taste before refrigerating it to get to down to room temp or cooler. Gently stir in the cranberries and walnuts (which I made from my previous recipe, minus the sesame seeds) before drizzling on the basting oil and tossing to coat. Serve immediately for the best crunch on the candied walnuts.

*Basting oil is delicious herb infused oil that is great on everything from meat to pasta. If you live near a Wegmans you can easily pick some up there or you can follow their recipe, in the link provided, or make your own by combining some of your favorite fresh or dried herbs with a neutral flavored oil.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Southwestern Meatloaf with Southwest BBQ Sauce

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted meatloaf cause I had some ground beef left in the fridge that needed to be used up. It was a fine meatloaf, but it was a bit bland and not very exciting. I thought about adding some regional flavors to it and settled on southwest style as I was in the mood for chili at the time. I was talking to a co-worker about trying to make a southwest style meatloaf, we bounced around some ideas, and I settled on combining American chili flavors with Mexican pico de gallo flavors to capture a more full range of southwest flavors, and it turned out delicious.

Like anything southwest style, it demanded a sauce so I doctored up my favorite bbq sauce to add a bit more flavor



1 t chili powder
½ t paprika
½ t cayenne powder
¼ t cinnamon
1 t cumin
¼ t garlic powder
½ t ground black pepper
½ red onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
¼ C packed chopped cilantro
1 C crushed tortilla chips
1 T Worchester sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 c milk
1.5 lb ground beef
¼ C BBQ sauce
2 T brown sugar or demerara sugar


1 C BBQ sauce
3 T of brown sugar or demerara sugar
½ t of cumin
½ t of chili powder


Preheat your oven to 375.

Combine the spices then add the produce and stir in the milk and eggs. Add the ground beef and gently work in the mixture. I recommend using your hands, but a spatula will do if you don't want ground beef and egg all over your fingers. Place in a greased loaf pan and use a spatula to smooth the top and work into the corners. Baste the top with the BBQ sauce and sprinkle with brown sugar or demerara sugar. Bake for 1 hr and then let rest for 15 minutes.

While the loaf is resting combine the 1 cup of BBQ sauce with the sugar and spices in a small sauce pan and stir over medium heat until smooth. Serve alongside the meatloaf.

One of the interesting things about this recipe is that, as long as you use a gluten free BBQ sauce, this is gluten free.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sumo Oranges

It's been a while since I did a food review, and since the couple weeks leading up to Valentine's Day were a little hectic, I decided to take it a bit easier on myself and review the only piece of citrus I enjoy eating out of hand more than a clementine: the Sumo orange.

First, a little history courtesy of Sumo oranges are a tangerine-orange hybrid that is extremely popular in Japan, where it is called the Dekopon. Apparently in Japan they sell for as much $8 a piece. The American variety is grown in California where it is called the Sumo because of its distinctive "top-knot".

As you can see, sumo oranges have a really thick skin that is really easy to peel. The fruit is sweeter than you would expect from an orange and it is seedless.

Now, the growers claim that it sections easily, and, while it isn't exactly hard to separate the sections, I don't find it easier than a clementine or other tangerines.

Sumos are pretty expensive, so I don't usually buy them that frequently, I tend to just pick up one box at the beginning of the season. Also, they aren't exactly easy to find yet, but if you can pick some up, and it makes sense in your budget to do so, give it a try. I think you will really enjoy them.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Roasted Sea Bass with Herbed Quinoa

This is my last recommended meal for Valentine's Day. Like my beef and vegetarian suggestions, I've provided instructions on how to get both parts of the meal out at the same time. This dish is another show stopper that will be sure to impress your significant other this Valentine's Day.


Sea Bass:

12 oz sea bass filet
1 t of salt
1 T of shredded dill
Lemon slices
1 T of butter


½ C of quinoa
1 C of vegetable stock
1 T of shredded dill
Zest of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 350. Start with zesting the lemon you are using for the sea bass since you can use that lemon zest for the quinoa. Butter the bottom of an oven proof dish, be it skillet, casserole, or baking dish, and place the sea bass, skin side down, on the dish. Evenly salt the sea bass and evenly distribute the dill and the lemon slices on top of the sea bass.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the fish flakes easily or reaches an internal temp of 145.

While the sea bass cooks, boil the quinoa in the vegetable stock until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the dill and the lemon zest and salt to taste.

To serve, portion the sea bass and the quinoa and enjoy a pescaterian dinner for two.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Herbed Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Filet mignon is always a show stopper. It comes in these nice easy portions, it's low fat (for beef), with little to no connective tissue. It can stand up to almost any cooking method, including one of my favorites, high heat! A finishing butter adds a little fat to the steak which, since it contains little fat itself, helps it taste juicier. Using the same finishing butter to flavor your potatoes helps pull your dish together and helps it really impress.


Herbed Creamy Mashed Potatoes:

1 lb of butter potatoes
¼ C of herbed finishing butter
½ C of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Filet Mignon:

2 ¼ lb filets
2 T of olive oil
2 T herbed finishing butter


To get everything on this plate out at the same time, let's start with prep. First, peel and chop your potatoes into small even chunks, then coat your 2 filets in olive oil and salt liberally. Start your cooking by placing the potatoes in a saucepan and covering with two inches of water. Bring to a boil and boil for 15-20 minutes or until the chunks are easily pierced by a fork or crushed with tongs.

While the water heats up, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, until water boils off instantly when spritzed on the surface. Sear your steaks for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until desired internal temp is reached. Remember that some heat will carry over and so they will continue to cook for a little bit once removed from heat.

Once the steaks are finished cooking, the potatoes should be nearly done, so cover the steaks and let them rest while you finish up the potatoes.

Drain the potatoes and place them in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add the butter and the cream and whip until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, portion the potatoes on the plate, place each steak on one plate and put a 1 tablespoon slice of butter on top of each steak. I served my plates with a side salad dressed with a citrus dressing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Seared Tofu with Creamy Mushroom Risotto

This is my menu for a vegetarian Valentine's Day dinner. I think that the umami in the marinade on the tofu pairs well with the similar flavors in the mushrooms, and both components have complimentary creamy textures.

This meal makes it pretty easy to get everything out at about the same time, with just the risotto warming while you finish the tofu.

Start by getting together all the ingredients you will need for making the Mushroom Risotto and the Marinated Tofu. This will make assembling the dishes, faster, easier, and way less stressful.

Prep the tofu, place it in the marinade, and set it in the fridge to marinade while you make the risotto. Once the risotto is finished, place it on your smallest burner over the lowest heat to just keep it warm, then pan sear the tofu.

Arrange the seared tofu on your plates, portion out the risotto, and enjoy a nice romantic evening with your significant other. Pro tip; serve the dinner with the same wine you used in the risotto, it will tie the flavors together nicely.

Sage and Garlic Finishing Butter

Finishing butter is a basic way to add tons of flavor to a dish. Many herbs and seasonings have fat soluble flavors and smells that butter helps extract for your tasting pleasure. You can easily customize your butter to fit the dish you are making, from steak, to seafood, to pasta. This one is a basic herb butter that goes great on steak.


1 stick of butter
1 t dried sage
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1 clove of garlic


Soften the butter in the microwave, fold the herbs and garlic into it, then wrap the butter mixture in plastic wrap and stash in the freezer for an hour before using. This allows for good flavor extraction and makes it easier to portion the butter for the dish you are putting it on.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Seared Marinated Tofu

Generally, I don't like tofu, but in my quest for a good vegan protein for a Valentine's Day meal, I was inspired to make tofu with an Asian style marinade. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and the experience really expanded me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


1 lb of tofu
1 T honey
1 T of rice vinegar
1 T of plum sauce
1T of sesame oil
2 T of low sodium soy sauce
1 T of olive oil
Sesame seeds


Pat the tofu dry with paper towels and then slice into half inch pieces. Thoroughly combine the honey, rice vinegar, plum sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Place the tofu in a ziptop bag and pour in the marinade, making sure to remove all the air you can, and stash in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the tofu is done marinated, heat the oil in a skillet and sear the tofu on each side, about 1 minute, till golden brown. Serve garnished with sesame seeds and chives, if desired.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mushroom Risotto

Let's kick off February with a vegetarian side dish perfect for your Valentine's Day plans. I have sized all of my Valentine's Day recipes to serve two, but they should be easy to scale up if you are cooking for more.

A risotto is creamy rice dish, that doesn't have any cream in it. The key to this phenomenon is medium grain rice, which thickens the cooking liquid to a creamy consistency. Some amature cooks find risottos to be an intimidating challenge, I know I did, but trust me when I say that all it takes is some patience and attention to detail to make a scrumptious dish to wow your significant other.


2 T of olive oil, divided
½ lb of assorted mushrooms, chopped
⅓ C of leeks, sliced
½ C of Arborio or risotto rice
3 T of dry white wine
2 C of low sodium vegetable stock, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T of butter
Shredded parmesan


In a saucepan or skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat and and brown the mushrooms until they have reduced in size and become soft. I used a mixture of shiitake, portobello, and crimini mushrooms, but you can use whatever you prefer or is readily available to you. Remove them from the pan and saute the leeks in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Once the leeks are lightly browned add in the rice, stirring to coat with oil. Toast the rice until it has taken on a light golden color and then add the wine. I used a vidal, which is a blended white wine, but I would also recommend a good dry riesling for this application. Stir the rice constantly until the wine is absorbed.

Now comes the technical part. Add a ½ cup of the vegetable stock and stir until it is fully absorbed. Repeat this with the remaining vegetable stock, adding ½ cup at a time and cooking until that batch is absorbed before adding the next portion. This will take almost 20 minutes and you need to be stirring frequently to make sure none of the rice sticks to the bottom and burns and to get the cooking liquid to a creamy texture.

Once the last batch of broth has been absorbed, remove from heat, stir in the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste and add the butter and parmesan. Feel free to substitute these for vegan options, or to leave them out entirely. The consistency won't be as creamy, but you will have a vegan version of this dish.

Congratulations, you have made risotto. I know that took a lot of stirring, but hopefully your Valentine is worth it!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Plan for February

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, as is the Super Bowl! For the first 2 weeks of the month of February, I will be posting recipes for Valentine's Day, starting with entrees and sides and then putting the whole meal together. I will be posting a steak, a fish, and a vegetarian option.

During the first week of February, before the Super Bowl, I will be rotating featured recipes for party food to help you get ready for all your Super Bowl party needs. So, please check back regularly for party recipes to make your party a success!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lager Gravy Mashed Potato Bowl

I was attempting to make a pasta sauce, but it wasn't really coming together. The flavor was good, but I couldn't quite get the consistency to what I wanted. So, I scraped it, well, I ate it, but I'm not going to share it. I decided to take some of the things I learned from that experience, learn from my mistakes, and make something new. It turned out really well, and I hope you enjoy it. One of the things I really like about this recipe is that the gravy is made in 1 skillet.



2 thick sliced of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced fine
1lb of cheese steak steaks, cut into bite sized pieces
2 T of flour
2 12oz bottles of lager
Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potatoes:

2lb of butter potatoes, cut into chunks
1 C of heavy cream
½ C of butter
Salt and pepper to taste


In a 10 inch skillet, render the fat out of the bacon, and remove the cooked bacon bits. Saute the onions in the bacon grease until soft and translucent, then remove. Finally, brown the beef in the remaining bacon grease, and once the beef is well cooked, add the flour. Stir the beef and the flour until well combined and then add the onions and the bacon back in and pour in the beer. Allow the gravy to come to a simmer and then reduce the heat and simmer until the desired consistency is reached, about 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

When the gravy is about 25 minutes out, place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until the pieces are easily pierced with  a fork or crushed with tongs. Drain the potatoes and place them in the bowl of your mixer, with the whisk attachment, add the butter and cream and whip until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

I recommend serving the mashed potatoes topped with the gravy and then garnished with some shredded cheddar cheese, and maybe some sour cream.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


A grillswith is a glazed donut pan-seared in butter to caramelize the glaze and served with a scoop ice cream. It is a Virginia dessert and possibly the least healthy thing I know how to make, but it is amazing. My best friend graduated from UVA and his grandfather, Duke, made me my first grillswith, and it changed my life, or at least shortened it. No regrets.


1 glazed donut per person
2 T of butter
Vanilla ice cream


Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet and then toast the donut on each side until the glazing is caramelized, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, right in the donut hole. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Glazed Yeast Donuts

Glazed Yeast Doughnuts

I love donuts and I have the figure to prove it. They are a great comfort food and dessert you get to eat for breakfast. This is not the easiest recipe, but it mostly requires a lot of waiting. While it does take a while, to quote my favorite celebrity chef, your patience will be rewarded.



½ C water
2 packets of active dry yeast
1 C milk
½ C unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
¼ C sugar
1 t salt
1 lb 10 oz flour
Oil for frying


2 C powdered sugar
¼ C of milk


Mix the 2 packets of yeast into the ½ cup of water and let it sit for about 10 minutes until a foam forms on top. The water should be between 95 to 105 degrees fahrenheit so that the yeast can wake up without being killed. Warm up the milk and melt the butter into it and allow the mixture to come back to room temp.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment and add the milk and butter mixture, the eggs, the sugar, the salt, and half the flour. Mix on low until it comes together then boost the speed and mix thoroughly. Reduce the speed, add the rest of the flour, then mix thoroughly. Put the dough hook attachment on beat at medium speed until the dough pulls cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Place your dough ball in a well oiled bowl and let it rest, covered, until the dough doubles in size, about 1-1.5 hrs.

Dump your dough out on a well floured surface, and roll into a ½ inch thick rectangle. Cut out your donuts using whatever method you prefer, I use a pair of pastry cutters. Lay your donuts out on a baking sheet and cover with a towel for ½ hr to allow for a second rise, or proof.

Unglazed DoughnutsWhile the donuts rest, heat about a gallon of oil to 365 degrees. Once the donuts are ready and the oil is hot, fry the donuts, 2-3 at a time, a minute per side and then remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool and set for 15-20 minutes.

While the donuts cool, make your glaze by whisking together the 2 cups of powdered sugar with the milk until entirely smooth. If you place your mixing bowl over a bowl of warm water it will help keep the glaze workable.

Dip each donut, one at a time, and let the excess drip off before turning them onto a tray or baking sheet. Let the glaze set for about 10 minutes and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pistachio Crusted Lemon Chicken

Some of my favorite recipes come from me just having to figure out what I can make with what I have left in the house. One day, I was struggling to come up with an idea to put dinner on the table, so I took a look around at what I had just around and came up with this. It turned out really well so I decided to share it.


2 Chicken breasts
¼ C of lemon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
½ C of unsalted pistachio kernels
1 t of salt


Preheat your oven to 350. Use paper towels to pat the chicken breasts dry and then coat with the lemon EVOO. Grind or crush the pistachios with the salt until coarsely ground and then dredge the oiled chicken in the pistachio crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes then let the chicken rest, covered, for 5 minutes and serve. I served mine with a side salad tossed with equal portions of the same lemon EVOO and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Linguine Pesto with Shrimp

Now that I have put up some pesto recipes, it's time to make some things with them. Once you have made your pesto, it is relatively simple to make sophisticated looking, tasty dishes. I recommend the Lemon Pesto for this recipe, since citrus flavors play great with seafood.


1 recipe worth of pesto
1.5 lbs of shrimp, on skewers
1 lb of linguine
Shredded parmesan
Salt and pepper


Cook up the linguine until al dente drain, mix with the pesto, and set aside. I used the whole recipe of pesto, but feel free adjust the amount to fit your taste.

While the pasta is cooking, heat your lightly oiled cast iron griddle on medium heat until water sprinkled on the surface boils off immediately and cook the shrimp, about a minute on each side, until they are pink and opaque. Lightly salt the shrimp as it cooks.

Place a serving of pasta on a plate and serve with a skewer of shrimp. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hot Toddy

My wife and I have been feeling a bit under the weather recently and with it finally getting a little colder outside, I decided to make up my favorite cold weather punch, the hot toddy. It's light lemon and cinnamon flavor help clear sinuses, the added sugar soothes the throat, and the spirits help you get a good night's sleep.


1 qt of water
1 lemon, sliced
2 long sticks of cinnamon
1 t of whole cloves
½ C of demerara sugar
2.5 C of bourbon


In a crock pot set to high, combine the water, lemon, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar and steep for 30 min. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves. After 30 min add the bourbon and stir to combine. Let the mixture get back up to temp, usually about 30 more minutes.

To serve, place a lemon slice in a cup, pour on the toddy and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Enjoy!