Friday, August 3, 2018

Pork-upines in a Skillet - A super simple one pan recipe

Now here's a style of blog post I haven't written in a long time. This #FoodPornFriday I share something I cooked myself. It's something I'm calling Pork-upines in a Skillet.

Now I am not what anyone would call a cook in any way. I didn't just make this up off the top of my head. It's based on a recipe called Porcupines In A Skillet I found over at Thirty Handmade Days. One of the main things I changed was using Ground Pork instead of Ground Beef, thus the name change.

The great thing about this dish was how easy it was to make and how quickly it came together. Then there was the bonus of it tasting damn good. I got a lot of compliments on this one from the family. My only mistake was not making enough.

Stuff you need:

1lb Ground Pork
1.5 Cup Water
1 package of seasoning (I used Club House Superburger. The original just used onion soup mix).
A few pinches of other seasonings to kick it up a notch (I used Old El Paso Burrito)
1 cup of Jasmine Rice (not instant rice)
1 can of tomatoes (next time I would use 2)
A bunch of Shredded Cheese (I used Kirkland Tex-Mex from Costco)

So here's how you make it:

Brown about a pound of ground pork
Drain if needed (the thing with pork is you probably won't have to, I didn't)
Toss everything but cheese in with the browned pork.
Turn skillet down to low, cover and cook about 35 minutes until rice is cooked.
Serve and cover with shredded cheese to taste.

That's it. Seriously. The entire thing is: brown meat, toss everything else in there and simmer for half an hour. It couldn't be easier.

What I would change next time:

The biggest problem was that it wasn't enough food for five of us. Three adults and two kids. I'm thinking I may just double everything but I'm not sure my skillet is big enough for that. I will definitely add more tomatoes and some other veggies. I'm thinking green pepper and onion will go well. It didn't feel like it needed more meat but more rice wouldn't have hurt. 

If you try this recipe out please let me know how it turns out. If you try anything new with it I would love to hear about that too.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Salmon Pizza from Vittorio's for #FoodPornFriday

Okay I know I just featured Vittorio's Slice of Italy for #FoodPornFriday a few weeks ago, but come on, look at this pizza my wife was served last night! I couldn't pass on the chance to share this beauty. 

I don't even like salmon (except in sushi) and I'm so so on arugula but I have to say that the Salmon Pizza (#21) that my wife got last night for dinner looked damn appealing. Besides smoked salmon and arugula this pie also has melted mozzarella, fresh tomato, and fresh mozzarella. 

17. Contadina
The rest of the pizzas the family ordered were equally good, though may not be as appetizing looking. I went with the Contadina (#17) which had Mozzarella, bacon, sausage, and potato. My dad went for a Jessica (#15) with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, pepperoni and sausage. My mom stuck to basics and got a Pepperoni (#2) but had them add green peppers. Little G tried something a bit more unique, a Patate (#10) with mozzarella, potatoes, egg, and sausage. 

Overall the entire family is still enjoying Vittorios and they still get a strong recommendation for me. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

#FoodPornFriday - Our anniversary staycation at The Grove Hotel

Today's #FoodPornFriday I flashback to our Wedding Anniversary back in May. Often we go out of town for our anniversary but this year we decided to stay local for various family reasons and to save some money. We decided on Kingsville for our staycation.

Normally when we go to Kingsville we stay at Jack's Gastropub. More accurately, we stay at INN31, upstairs at Jacks. This wasn't an option this time, but my wife found The Grove Hotel just down the street and we decided to check it out. 

The Grove Hotel is a historic building in Kingsville (it's from 1854) that was recently renovated. A big part of that renovation was adding The Grove Brew House to the side of the existing hotel. The Brew House is a high-end brewpub serving a wide variety of beers, booze, and food. 

My wife managed to get us the Brewmaster Suite, which was an awesome room. Besides being huge, with a nice big sized bed, lots of tables (great for gaming on), it also had one of the coolest features I've ever experienced in a hotel room: a door leading into the brewpub with a private balcony. That's right we had our own private access to the pub, with a cool balcony that was also wide enough to fit some games on. 

We had a lot of beers on that patio and played quite a few games of Azul. It was awesome to be able to sit out there, go back into the room for a bit, use the washroom and go back out. We were even able to bring some drinks back into the room at the end of the night.

About those drinks. Grove currently has 7 beers in their Brewmaster Series, which you can get any time. These include a Blood Orange Hefeweizen, a Lager, Four Ales (Cream, Brown, IPA and APA) and a Stout. They also have seasonal beers they call One Hit Wonders. Right now there are four, including a Sour, a Marzen, an Altbier and a Porter. Of all the beers I tried the Clubhouse Stout, George The Ghost Hefeweizen and the Chocolate Salted Caramel Porter were the best. The fact they are actually a brewery also means that you can get any of their great beers to go. Though we did learn that they often run out of growlers so the One Hit Wonders may not be available for takeout. 

The Grove Brew House also serves food. One night we took advantage of their late night menu and had some flatbread pizza that was rather good. It had chorizo on it, and that's never a bad thing. At some point we plan on going back and getting a full meal, it's just that there are so many amazing places to eat in Kingsville. 

Now the bad news: it's not cheap. Flights of beer cost more here than anywhere else in Kingsville. The Brewmaster Suite was over $200 a night. The flatbread pizza was $18. Now those aren't crazy prices and you get what you pay for, but it's more than we pay to stay and drink down the street at Jack's. 

Overall, we were impressed with both the hotel and the brewpub portion of the new upgraded Grove. I know the shots of our private balcony I shared on social media during the stay were very popular and I know at least one person who called to try to book a wedding reception. It is a rather cool place to stay. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

#FoodPornFriday Vittorio's Slice of Italy - fantastic Italian if you can find it

Today's #FoodPornFriday post is inspired by a few Facebook and Instagram comments I've gotten over the last few days. 

A few weeks ago my wife and I had plans to go see the new Avengers movie. We wanted to make sure we saw it in the theater and didn't wait for the DVD release. I had the thought that if we went the opening night of Star Wars: Solo then, obviously, Avengers would be empty as everyone would be seeing Solo. It was a good plan. What it was missing though was somewhere to eat before the show. 

Now, I don't remember what else was going on that day but I remember time was tight. We had some stuff to do and then needed to eat pretty quickly and hit the theater or we would miss the start of the show. At this point, Avenger's was only playing at Lakeshore Cinema so I was looking for somewhere to eat either in Tecumseh or on the way. After checking out Google and a few review sites I settled on someplace I've never heard of: Vittorio's Slice of Italy

Vittorio's Slice of Italy is a small(ish) family-owned Italian restaurant hidden in Forest Glade. It's hidden so well that it's in plain sight and despite that, I drove past it twice. See, it's in Forest Glad Plaza, and I can already hear you saying: but the only restaurant in that plaza is Parks & Rec. Well, I thought the same thing, and we are both wrong. Vittorio's is almost in the south-west corner. It's right next to a Deli and I have to say their sign somehow makes it look like they are part of the deli. Driving by I actually thought that the deli must sell a lot of Italian meats and bread or something. No, Vittorio's has nothing to do with the Deli (well maybe they get some ingredients there, that wouldn't surprise me). 

So now that you know how to find the place, what can you expect from Vittorio's Slice of Italy? It's not a big place, though bigger than it looks from outside in the plaza. The kitchen is in plain view and as soon as you walk in I can almost guarantee you will be greeted and treated like family by one of the staff. In this way Vitto's reminds me of Louis', they are extremely friendly and welcoming and you will feel right at home in no time. The only complaint I have about the place is that it can get loud. It's basically one room with no walls and depending on how many people are there it can be noisy. 

The big thing food wise at Vittorio's is gourmet pizza. They offer 34 different pre-made pizzas that include #23: Carbonara with mozzarella, eggs, bacon and parmesan, #32: Lenola with mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, and prosciutto, or #15: Jessica's with Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, pepperoni, and sausage. These are the pizza's my family has tried so far and every one has been fantastic. 

It's an interesting style of pizza. It's not Windsor Style Pizza. Nor is it wood oven flatbread pizza. It's something in between. The ingredients seem to be the same ones used on most Windsor Style Pizza and the crust is closer to Windsor Style but not as thick. The pies are cooked in a standard pizza oven, so they definitely aren't wood fired. I've heard these are closer to the Italian roots of pizza, but I can't answer to the validity of that.

Vittorio's isn't all pizza either. They also have a decent selection of traditional Italian meals. Gnocchi, Ravioli, Chicken Parm, etc. After our first trip, someone on social media suggested we try the Bruschetta appetizer and we did so on our next trip and that comment was bang on. The best, but also messiest, bruschetta I've had. Overall my wife and I were really impressed. So much so that the next Thursday I took my mom and the kids there. A couple weeks later the entire family went. At this point, I'm sure we will be back again. 

I did forget one thing. We found the prices to be excellent for the portion size. The pizzas range from $8.99 to $13.99 with items like veal parmesan being only $12.99. You don't see those prices at other local Italian restaurants. 

So trust me when I say, there's a damn fine Italian restaurant hidden in Forest Glade and it's well worth going on the hunt to find it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

#SushiSaturday We finally got to try The Dragonfly Sushi Bar

Between having to work afternoon shift and things like getting the kids out to Camp Cedarwin I haven't been free Friday nights. This means I haven't had a chance to do a #FoodPornFriday post for some time. I feel bad about this. So today I present a special #SushiSaturday post featuring some of the most appealing sushi ever.

The Dragonfly Sushi Bar opened up in Windsor quite a while ago. It's a small place located at 1567 Ottawa Street and is very easy to miss if you don't know it's there.

I remember a lot of buzz when it opened. I kept hearing that this was the place to go. That the chef (Shane Cushing) was the best in the city and one of the best sushi chefs in Canada. It seems everyone else heard this too as my wife and I were never able to get in. It doesn't help that they have very limited hours and are very small. Now I realize all I had to do was call ahead and get reservations, but that would require more pre-planning that we usually have when deciding to eat out.

Back on May 25th my wife and I found ourselves kid free and looking for somewhere to eat. I wanted to try somewhere new and headed towards India Paradise, a new Indian place on Ottawa street. On the drive there we passed Dragonfly and I noted that they were open. When we got to India Paradise it looked like they were closed (more about that if I ever post about India Paradise) so we headed back to Dragonfly and actually managed to get in and get a seat.

I'm so glad we got in that day. Dragonfly serves the freshest fish I've ever eaten. The tuna was like butter. It melted in your mouth. I'm not a fan of sashimi (the actual raw fish that many people think all sushi is), but my wife is. She insisted I try her tuna and OMG it was so good. Everything was excellent. We ordered a mix of rolls both ones from the menu and daily specials. I also got a Panko Pork Slider that was also a daily special. That Pork Slider is one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth.

Everything we had was excellent. Ridiculously fresh and well made. I'm not sure how to get across just how special this was. Let's put it this way, I didn't think food could taste this fresh. I've eaten a lot of food. I had a definition of amazing fresh food in my head based on that experience and Dragonfly caused me to raise that bar, to redefine my idea of fresh sushi.

With all that said, this has got to be my favourite sushi place in the city now, right? Surprisingly no. It's up there, way up there, but there were some things that I wasn't a big fan of. The sashimi is amazing, but it's still not the kind of thing I want for a meal. Added to that almost every single roll had shrimp in it, most of it cooked shrimp. I'm not really a shrimp fan and when I do eat it I like it chilled. Now I could tell that it was amazing and perfectly prepared but it wasn't a taste for me. Like when I have a great IPA, I can tell it's a good IPA but I'm still not a fan of IPAs.

Now I'm certain that this is the perfect taste for someone, probably lots of people. You honestly can't get better ingredients or better-prepared sushi anywhere in the city. If you dig shrimp and lots of sesame and crispily fried root vegetables and edge seared eel you are going to love Dragonfly. If you like sushi at all you owe it to yourself to try Dragonfly at least once. For us it's going to be a now and then sushi place. I'm certain sometime in the future my wife or I will get a sushi craving and say: let's go back to The Dragonfly Sushi Bar and when we do I don't expect to be at all disapointed. I just hope they have panko pork sliders as a special that day. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

#FoodPornFriday - No need to cross the border for Detroit Style Coney Dogs

Have I mentioned The Sushi Effect before? Just in case I haven't, here is an explanation:

I do not like fish. The only form of fish I would eat is canned Tuna. Not a fan of salmon. Don't like Fish & Chips. All you can eat Perch makes my stomach turn. I'm also not much of a veggie fan. Cucumbers, nope. Avacado, hell no. Eggplant, that's that thing odd people get instead of veal at Italian restaurants. Ginger, not even in my beer. Then there's seaweed, I am not a fan of seaweed. But, if you put all those things together, I'm in love. I friggin' love sushi. Sushi is up there with Pizza and Panzerotto in my food hierarchy. I don't like, and in some cases can't stand, the individual ingredients but somehow you put them all together and it's magic.

Well, today's #FoodPornFriday post features another case of The Sushi Effect. This time it's Detroit style Coney dogs now offered by The Windsor Sandwich Shop on weekends only. 

I dig hot dogs. Not something I eat all the time, but solid comfort food. I like specific things on my dog though: ketchup and relish. If I can get it I'll also toss on cheese and bacon. But that's it. One toping I cannot stand: Mustard. I'll return a hotdog if someone puts mustard on it. Know what else I really don't like on hotdogs? Onions. Onions are a food that should only be eaten when cooked. Preferably deep fried in ring form. Never chopped on top of anything, like a burger or a hotdog.

This pic from The Windsor Sandwich Shop Facebook Page
used with permission. 
So when the new manager at The Windsor Sandwich Shop proudly announced he was bringing Detroit Style Coneys to Windsor I wasn't all that excited. But man, all my friends sure were. My facebook feed that first Friday was filled with people sharing pictures of their Coney Dogs. Lots and lots of positive comments. They sold out in hours. 

I had to find out what the big deal was about. So the next monthly board game night (2nd Saturday of every month), I just had to try a Coney dog. I still didn't trust it, so I ordered my usual hot dog as well (with the ketchup, relish, cheese and, bacon). I'm sure you can see where this is going. The Sushi Effect was in full, well, effect. Here were a bunch of toppings I can't stand combined on a hotdog and it was delicious. 

Now I do have to admit, I've never actually had a Detroit Style Coney Dog before so I can't speak to how well this dog compares to a dog bought over the border. My social media feed seems to think they are at least as good. 

I mentioned it above but it's worth noting again. You can only get these Detroit Style Coneys on weekends. The Windsor Sandwich Shop starts selling them on Friday and they sell them until they run out, which could happen Friday night or they may make it into Saturday. As word spreads, they seem to be selling out quicker and quicker. There's even a special on right now: 2 Coneys + side + pop for $7.99 + tax.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Today's #FoodPornFriday features VIA Rail. Seriously.

I never thought I would be here writing about the amazing meal I had, on a train. In my head I expect train food to be pretty much the same as plane food which I expect to be pretty much the same as hospital food. It's food, it will get you buy, it's nice to have a meal. In no way do I expect good food. In no way did I expect to be sharing train food for #FoodPornFriday 

My wife has been trying to sell me to VIA Business Class for quite a few years now. Well, this year for her Birthday we went up to Toronto so she could hook up with a friend, attend ComicCon and we both could check out Breakout Con (an awesome tabletop gaming convention). Her condition for this trip was that we take the train, specifically VIA Business Class. I'm sold.

Business Class is better in pretty much every way. You load first. Seats are wider. There's more leg room. You could even end up in a private seat with no neighbor (Tip: ask for S class if traveling alone). Then there's the food and drink. 

On the way up to Toronto, we were offered coffee and some really amazing Montreal bagels.  Not Montreal style bagels, but actual bagles from Montreal. About an hour into the trip we were offered more coffee or some other beverage. These options included alcoholic drinks.  I opted for a can of Steam Whistle.  About another hour in, just past London we were served lunch. We got the choice of three different hot meals. There was pasta, fish and a meat. I got the meat which was almond encrusted chicken over rice and broccoli. It also included a cup of red or white wine (I went red), a fresh salad and a cookie. Before reaching Toronto we were offered chocolate and a small bag of snack crackers, and one more round of drinks. 

The ride home was similar but without the coffee and more options and frequency of drinks (adult or not, your choice). The meal I chose this time was Butter Chicken which also came with wine, an amazing potato salad with a piece of prosciutto on top, a hot bun and some kind of fresh raspberry dessert. It was even better than the chicken on the way up. The beer selection was even better on the trip home and I had three cans of La Chipie from Archibald Microbreweries. This was the best beer I had on the entire trip. Yes, the best beer I had over a weekend trip to Toronto was on the train ride home.

There's one other thing I think is worth mentioning. At Union Station, there is a special room you get access to if you travel Business Class. This room has free wi-fi, charging stations, drinks (juice, water, and pop) and healthy snacks (it was apples when we were there, but my wife noted it changes and has been bananas before). It's a big comfy lounge with TVs and lots of reading material in the form of papers from all over and magazines. 

I have to admit it, my wife was right. This is the best way to travel ever. Yes, it costs more than a normal VIA ticket but just look at what you get for that additional money. I'm certain that (especially with the beer) I ingested more value in food and drink than the additional ticket cost. All the extra legroom, shoulder space and comfy seats are just a bonus.

Overall I give VIA Business Class a big thumbs up!