Oyster Mushroom Tacos

Ok so even though I love and regularly eat plant-based I can never believe when someone tells me a vegan dish tastes like meat. I call bull on every single meat alternative. Even when I talk about plant-based I talk about it as its own delicious world to explore, and that replicating typically leads to disappointment.

But in saying all of this, damn if these little mushroom tacos didn’t just about bamboozle me, and I made them! My friend who I made them for who also lives off of red meat even said they could have fooled him if he didn’t know. The key here is getting some really good super meaty oyster mushrooms. If they aren’t available near you then a cremini (baby bella) could work too.

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Duck Marsala

Most of my recipes in the last several months have been inspired by fresh, home grown produce. I have one friend who’s garden I raided all summer to the point that I could be called Peter Rabbit. Through the fall my main inspiration has come from a friend’s farm that has had an amazingly consistent and diverse array of beautiful mushrooms. With the last batch I received I had originally thought of making a chicken marsala. But as I sat and thought about it I decided it was time to step my game up and give this Italian-American classic a major upgrade.

Meatloaf Stroganoff

I rarely cook beef. I’m not fully sure why, it’s perfectly delicious, I just don’t mess with it. But recently I got a craving for two different beef dishes at the same time, meatloaf and beef stroganoff. There was no chance in heck I was going to put both on my grocery list and blow my mostly pescatarian lifestyle sky high. Enter: the mashup.

I mean honestly this makes all the sense in the world. This take on classic America combined with classic Russia soothes cold war tensions like Richard Nixon never could. Instead of the cafeteria style cream of mushroom based stroganoff over noodles, which I love; don’t get me wrong, I went for a more authentic flavor on the sauce. And honestly what’s better than a hunk of meat slathered in a rich, tangy mushroom sauce? Exactly, not a damn thing.

Loaded Seafood Mac and Cheese

Like almost any southerner I’m a sucker for a good mac and cheese. What’s more comforting than carbs and cheese? Simple: carbs, cheese, and a crap ton of seafood. I based this recipe off of a traditional macaroni pie recipe, but with some switched up cheeses as well as the addition of shrimp, scallops and (admittedly imitation) crab.

Heads up, this makes a lot!

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Tempura Monte Cristo with Blackberry Chili Jam

I’m still not 100% sure if putting an entire sandwich through the tempura process was a stroke of genius or madness. See I have a very strong passion for hot ham and cheese sandwiches. I touched on it years ago with my croque madame recipe, but I needed more.

Part of the inspiration for this dish comes from the famous Disney parks monte cristo with blackberry preserves. The other half of the inspo comes from my love of Japanese techniques and flavors I tend to use more when I cook for myself vs. for the blog.

As soon as I took my first bite I was taken on a journey. This sandwich has crunchy, salty, sweet, fruity, spicy, and gooey all in one. It’s one of those things that’s perfect, but also its mere existence is terrifying at the same time.

Alfredo Mashed Cauliflower

During most of my day to day life I like super simple, clean cooking. But I have a special tradition I like to call “fuck it Friday.” It’s a similar concept to a cheat day, but without the gross guilty connotation, and it allows me to set it on a schedule.

One of my big go tos for this moment is some kind of alfredo pasta. But what happens when I feel the need to be sneaky during the week, or on the other hand slide a vegetable into my Fridays? The answer is simple, why not both? Enter alfredo mashed cauliflower.

It’s super rich and decadent. But making cauliflower the base at least lets me pretend I’m being somewhat healthful. I’m a huge believer in the magic of cauliflower, and if you weren’t before then there’s nothing a little parmesan won’t solve.

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Lamb Burgers with Roasted Garlic Mayo and Rosemary Balsamic Tomato Jam

Coming into this recipe I had never worked with lamb before. And even when I’ve eaten it it was almost always in the form of a gyro, or a burger that tasted like one.

Yet despite it being this big mystery I really wanted to dive in headfirst. Coming in here’s what I knew: lamb needs to stay pink, and that it can stand up to some heavy flavors and condiments. I brought back an old favorite with my roasted garlic mayo from my mushroom swiss burgers. But I also used this as a chance to dabble in something I’ve wanted to for a long time, jam making.

I’ve made some berry jams for breakfast items before and even tried my hand at the dark art of chia jam. But what about savory jams? I’ve heard of tomato jam but wanted to bring new life to the concept with a good vinegar hit and fresh herbs. Plus the leftovers are really good on toast with some soft cheese!

All together this burger is a flavor bomb, but the lamb still doesn’t get lost. It’s that magical moment where every component brings its own special flavor that hits all parts of the tongue. Truth be told I made them for my best friend to help me try and we both ate two in one sitting!

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Taco Flavored Fried Brussels Sprouts and Lemon-Lime Yogurt Dip

Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.

And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Salad

Honestly there’s not much of a cool story to this. I just randomly got an urge to make a recipe with grapes because I think they’re sorely underused, and somehow thought peanut butter jelly and salad should have a baby.

Honestly how I got there’s a mystery but I’m glad I did. What I did was whip up a peanut dressing with a good hit of acid and a little spice and paired it with grilled chicken and the sweetest grapes I could find.

I ended up with a really cool childhood meets adulthood plate of food that I’m really into. And this is coming from a salad hater. So let’s get into it, yeah?

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Salmon With Matcha Noodles and Kinda Dashi Broth

Ok so in the past I’ve gotten bad about feeling the need to do some intense diet and exercising for the new year. I usually lose weight for a while, but end up feeling restricted, overworked, and not very happy by Summer. Instead for 2020 I’m going with a goal of “happy food.” I aim to cook what’s making me happy in that moment no matter how weird or out of my normal culinary zone it may be. I’m on a new path of chasing after happy dances.

That being said, like many of you this holiday season got me jacked up. Spiked hot cocoa, tons of red meat, and all the latkes I can eat are really cool, but I needed a major reset button to start 2020 feeling fresh and clean.

One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a huge mug of matcha to get me perked up and ready to go, which was the jump off point of this dish. The surrealistic pondscape consists of some of my favorite clean flavors: salmon, cucumber, nori, roe, and dashi. The effect is a really cool combination of oceany flavors from the fish and dashi with the earthiness of matcha to create something that feels very nature inspired.

Even though we’re in the middle of winter the lightness and freshness of this dish can’t help but make me feel like spring is around the corner. Another cool perk is it can be served at any temperature and still work.

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