#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Recipes

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #047 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

There’s an easy trick that can be used to make almost any dish taste better: Add toasted almonds and dried fruit.

Is your salad looking like just a bowl of leaves? Sprinkle in some almonds and dried cranberries.

Lonely bowl of vanilla ice cream? Invite some almonds and dried fruit to the party.

Tired of the same old Brussels sprouts? Almonds. Cranberries.

But does it work for instant Ramen?

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Sure.

Since ramen noodles themselves don’t have any sort of strong flavor, they work quite well as base for a dessert. Brown butter makes everything better, while the almonds provide a crunch and the berries cut the richness with a pop of tart. And it’s fun to slurp noodles. It just is. I would slurp all of my meals if possible.

This isn’t overtly sweet and I enjoyed it. I ate the whole bowl, even though I had already eaten breakfast and only planned on tasting it. (And let’s be honest, there’s no good reason to waste brown butter).

Okay, so it tastes pretty good, but would I actually make this again?

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Maybe?

I’m not quite sure where this dessert fits. It wasn’t difficult, but for the effort you could probably make something better. I might lean more towards making this for breakfast since it has the same vibes as oatmeal. But, I’m not sure this is better than oatmeal. It’s certainly not as nutritious.

However, the name does lend itself well to a restaurant menu. If I saw “Brown Butter Ramen with Almonds & Berries” on a dessert menu, I’d absolutely give it a try over chocolate cake, cheesecake, or some other mundane choice. And the name is probably why you clicked through.

Either way, it’s still a fun dish and is worth making at least once.

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Brown Butter Ramen with Almonds & Berries

  • 1 Package of Instant Ramen
  • 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Berries
  • Cinnamon

1. Toast the almonds over medium heat in a small frying pan until golden in color. It should take about five minutes, but your nose will also let you know when they’re done (it’ll smell like roasted nuts).

2.  Brown the butter using these tips. Once sufficiently brown and not burned, pour the butter into a small bowl and set aside.

3.  Prepare the ramen noodles per the instructions on the package (don’t use the flavor packets).

4.  Drain the noodles and place back into the pan you used to boil them. While still hot, pour in the butter, pinch of salt, honey, and berries. Toss until well mixed, then place in a shallow bowl. Top with almonds and a light dusting of cinnamon.

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

 

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Beyond the Food

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java – Prince William County, VA

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #046 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

I think most people living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area feel the pain of a daily commute. The money blown on gas. The monotonous crawl of cars. All those wasted hours.

Sometimes enough is enough. So, last year Kandi Mitchell decided to do something about it. And somewhat ironically, her plan to avoid the 90+ minute one-way commute from Bristow to Arlington everyday, involved spending more time in a vehicle: Her very own coffee truck, Shenandoah Express Juice & Java.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Part of the inspiration came from the Alaskan coffee huts she and her husband frequented when they lived in the 49th state. Each hut has its own unique look, personality, and menu–quite the stark contrast to the surplus of chain coffee shops in Prince William County.

Kandi describes the moment she decided to pursue the coffee truck as “exhilarating,” but there was also plenty of anxiety mixed in.

I was excited that I’d finally made the decision to breathe life into the ideas that had been rolling around in my head for the past few years. At the same time, I was very nervous about giving up a well paying job to do something I had never done before.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Kandi quickly got to work. She found an excellent resource at FoodTruckr.com and raved about the helpfulness of their podcasts, which feature interviews with food truck owners and related industry professionals. She also tapped into her experience in project management as a Systems Engineer for an aviation consulting firm. Patience and good organization are two valuable traits to have when dealing with the business side of things. It also goes without saying that her service to our country in the United States Air Force would also come in handy in staying cool under pressure and stressful situations.

From the start of her venture, Kandi knew she wasn’t in this just to replace her day job; she wanted to make a difference. Through Organic Products Trading Company she learned of Cafe Femenino, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide grants to programs and projects that enhance the lives of women and their families in coffee-producing communities around the world. Sourcing a product that is good is always the goal, but she was able to find coffee beans that were also doing good. After sampling the coffee, she and her husband, Jesse, were hooked. This was a product she would be proud to serve.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

With a source of quality raw beans, next was finding a commercial roaster to make those beans ready for her espresso beverages. Like some perfect coincidence, Kandi found Monument Coffee Roasters, another local company, who much like her, was in the early stages of their own coffee business. (To learn more about the story behind Monument Coffee Roasters, check out our post from last winter.)

Beans? Check. Roaster? Check. Now, the most important part: The truck. Built from scratch in Georgia, this deep red truck arrived as a blank canvas. Kandi credits her sister, Kris, for being a vital part of the design by helping to create the logo, decals, and signage. Kris even went so far as to fly down from Michigan (with everything stuffed in her luggage) to help Kandi apply the decals to the truck. With Kris’s help, Kandi was able to pay homage to the local train culture, while also ensuring that it attracts plenty of eyes–an important aspect to any food truck.

The inside of the truck is also surprisingly spacious, comfortably fitting 3-4 adults with elbow room to spare. It’s even outfit with plenty of amenities, like air conditioning/heating, running water, large refrigerator, and even a bathroom, something that will make long days at events a little bit easier.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

This is by no means an easy task, and Kandi admits that owning her own truck has created its own set of daily struggles–sustaining a parking place, sourcing ingredients, following (and sometimes interpreting) regulations–it all takes patience and perseverance. As I noticed and mentioned before in a previous post, entrepreneurs don’t venture out on their own so they can work less, they do it so they can work more at something they’re passionate about.

It’s been and continues to be really hard work. I actually love that part. I feel challenged in a completely different way than I am used to.

Kandi also noted that one of the benefits of leaving a desk job was the increased physical activity; being on her feet all day has even led her to losing a few pounds (so maybe the “Food Truck Diet” will eventually catch on). But also mentally, there’s a strong sense of accomplishment that can be achieved through interacting with satisfied customers.

“I get a lot of really nice comments about my truck and my products. People really like it once they’ve tried it and I already have a few regular customers. That’s very validating.”

Why are the customers so satisfied? Aside for fresh, locally roasted beans, she offers something different from the same ol’ options, with a menu that’s constantly changing. The menu has its standard morning fare, fresh fruit smoothies, hot or iced lattes, and pastries, but there’s always a special or two to help mix things up, like The Commuter Canon (a hazelnut and caramel latte), or a supercharged Soy Chai latte with a shot of espresso. Also, with the hot summer months, you can expect to see some refreshing cold brew being served. When asked about her personal favorites, Kandi mentioned she was more a fan of variety than of any go-to drink.

“I like to try something different every day, but my favorite flavors are hazelnut, caramel, and chai so they’re my fallbacks when I’m not feeling particularly creative.”

So, if you’re in Prince William County and you see her red truck parked somewhere, be sure to stop by and say hello to Kandi! Sure it might be easier to go to the drive-thru of a large chain, but when you have an opportunity to support a veteran, woman-owned business sourcing responsibly and supporting a great cause, seems like the choice is pretty clear. And Kandi’s coffee is way better.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Picture courtesy of Shenandoah Express Juice & Java via Facebook.

You can follow Shenandoah Express Juice & Java’s schedule on Facebook for updates on where the truck is parked, but here is a sampling of some of the regular spots:

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews

The 1st Annual Virginia Festival at America Eats Tavern

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #045 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

Since 1969, the tourism slogan for our great state has been “Virginia is for lovers.” A nice sentiment indeed, but I’d like to propose a small change:

Virginia is for food lovers.

With a growing craft beer culture, acres of wineries, southern cooking influences, and innovative modern cuisine, what’s not to love?

I’m clearly not the only person who feels this way, as José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern is hosting it’s first annual Virginia Festival June 17th – 30th. The festival will include a “Blend Your Own Bordeaux Competition,” a variety of local wine and spirits tastings, as well as a prix fixe tasting menu and à la carte items with a focus on Virginia ingredients.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Wouldn’t you love to hold your private event here? Call and ask for Hannah; she’s the BEST.

We were fortunate enough to get a sneak peak of the food and beverages during a media preview night, so we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below.

Cocktails and Fried Chesapeake Oysters

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Blackberry Smash, Gin & Tonic, and Fried Chesapeake Oyster with rhubarb remoulade, cucumber and pickle rhubarb salad

José Andrés doesn’t mess around when it comes to libations. We enjoyed a refreshing Blackberry Smash and José’s Gin & Tonic. The Gin & Tonic was carefully constructed and nearly too beautiful to drink. Nearly. Not to mention the mammoth cocktail glass it was served in to allow the drink to breathe and to accommodate a giant ice cube that could have easily sunk the Titanic.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

No hands.

As for the oyster… I didn’t intend on licking rhubarb remoulade out of an oyster shell. I also didn’t intend on eating every fried oyster that was put in front of me (I lost count at seven). These actions were not my fault. When an oyster is perfectly fried–crispy on the outside, tender and without chew on the inside–one cannot be held responsible for his or her actions. So, I shall plead temporary insanity.

Virginia Peanut Soup

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Sally Lunn Bread with honey butter and Virginia Peanut Soup with celery and blackberries

Although I’ve lived here my whole life and Tina’s lived here her entire adult life, neither one of us had ever had peanut soup before. I know! A crime in a very peanutty state. And personally, I never did get the appeal of boiled peanuts.  So, I didn’t expect to like peanut soup, but I really enjoyed it and found that the fresh blackberry worked very well to complement the richness of the peanuts.

Summer Squash Casserole

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Summer Squash Casserole with zucchini juice, wood sorrel, Vella Dry Jack cheese, and bread crumbs

From the name of this dish (and at any other restaurant) you’d expect a heavy, creamy, cheesy dish with some overcooked squash in there somewhere. But this Squash Casserole was refreshingly light with crunchy squash and crispy bread crumb topping. Not what I expected at all and a good change of pace from what people tend to expect from southern cooking.

Shrimp ‘N’ Grits

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Shrimp with Byrd Mill grits, Meadow Reserve cheddar, pearl onion petals, and ham hock

At events with passed hors d’oeuvres, I can always tell which dishes are my favorite based on the amount of time I spend hunting for servers with said dish. For the latter part of the night, I was playing a game of Where’s Waldo, zeroing in on any server with a tray of Shrimp ‘N’ Grits. It was also the dish we woke up craving this morning, so…yeah, we kinda loved it.

Cake! 

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

First, let me say that I’m a pie guy. But I think a really good cake is truly a beautiful thing. With bakeries and cupcake shops being ubiquitous in the suburbs, it’s hard to get excited about cake nowadays. However, last night I was excited about cake. I don’t know what they heck they’re doing in the kitchen at AET, but I’ve been a huge fan of both their Coconut Cake and Martha Washington’s Chocolate Cake since I first laid a fork in them. For dessert during our preview, we were given a parting gift of cake pops–one chocolate and one coconut–and they were as good as the their forefathers. We ate ours in the car before we left the parking lot.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

And that’s not to say the rest of the food wasn’t top notch (sweet stewed cherry tomatoes, a raw oyster bar, biscuits with Edwards Surryano ham and pepper jelly, and the simple, yet so addicting fresh bread and honey butter). With the talented Chef Nate Waugaman at the helm, a friendly staff, and a constant flow of outstanding dishes, it was easy to fall in love the food at America Eats Tavern. [Cue sappy romantic comedy music.]

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

If you’re in the mood to love some food, check out their Virginia Festival events below (most of which are complimentary). And if you can’t make it to one of the events, stop by any time during the festival to take advantage of special menu items including a selection of Virginia hams, Yohanan Farms Roast Chicken with Mushroom Jus and Pickled Lemon, and Lemon Chess Pie, a classic Virginia dessert.

Virginia Festival Events

Wednesday, June 17th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Catoctin Creek Rye & Gin Tasting: Sample Catoctin Creek’s award-winning 92 Roundstone Rye and Watershed Gin while enjoying delicious bites from America Eats Tavern. Catoctin Creek is Loudoun County’s first legal distillery, so come out and support a growing local business. Click here for more details.

Friday, June 19th (6:30 PM) – Blend Your Own Bordeaux Competition: Ever wanted to be a winemaker? Here’s your chance to create your own blend for a chance to win vineyard tours, dinner at America Eats Tavern, and more. Bring your A GAME, because the judges include Master Sommelier Andy Myers, and Barboursville Vineyards’ Chief Sommelier Jason Tesauro. Tickets are $50 per person (click here to purchase) and include food, wine, and all the tools necessary to blend your very own Bordeaux.

Wednesday, June 24th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Early Mountain Vineyards Wine Tasting: Enjoy a “Wine Wednesday” with Early Mountain Vineyards, an award-winning winery located in Madison, VA. This tasting is complimentary and does not require a reservation.

Monday, June 29th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Trump Winery Tasting: Start the week off right, with a complimentary wine tasting with Trump Winery,  an award-winning winery and also the largest wine producer in Virginia. Click here for more details.

America Eats Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: We were a guest of America Eats Tavern during a media preview night. As always, all opinions are our own. 

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Recipes

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #044 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

First thing’s first: What the heck is a pupusa?

Tortilla Press

A pupusa is a Salvadorian dish which is basically a thick corn tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and/or beans. If you’ve ever made corn tortillas, the process is similar, except you stuff the middle with lots of delicious things and fry them in a small amount of oil. When eaten fresh, your mouf is treated to a crispy exterior hiding spicy meat and melty cheese. If you’re really lucky, some of the cheese will escape when frying and get all nice and delightfully burnt. Traditionally topped with cabbage slaw and hot sauce, this makes for a solid meal.

Tortilla Press Flat

My hometown has a fairly good sized Salvadorian population, so there are plenty of pupuserias in the area, but it’s not a dish you see gaining a ton of mainstream popularity. And I didn’t even know what they were until I was introduced to them by my wife and mother-in-law (coincidentally, neither of whom are Salvadorian). Although our local Whole Foods in Fairfax, VA serves up some decent pupusas on Fridays, I’m still met with a flurry of questions when I bring them back to my office for lunch. So, there’s clearly a ton of people who haven’t been exposed to these filled corn creations.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Okay now that you have all that great pupusa knowledge filling your mind grapes, let’s take this traditionally savory dish and turn it into a dessert.

When you end up with four and half pounds of strawberries thanks to a day of strawberry picking, you start to look for interesting ways to use them. Thankfully, Tina tapped into her love of pupusas and her desire to use up as many of these juicy berries as possible and suggested we make a dessert pupusa. Oh and by the way, these are gluten-free. Yup. For folks with gluten intolerance, it never hurts to add another GOOD gluten-free dessert to the rotation.

Roasted Strawberry Filling

Here’s the overall construction:

  • The corn dough is sweetened, filled with roasted strawberries, queso fresco, and mint sugar.
  • After cooking, the pupusas are topped with a sweetened Salvadorian crema. You could substitute fresh whipped cream if you can’t find Salvadorian crema, but the crema makes for a nice change of pace and a better recipe title.
  • Since the traditional pupusa is topped with a slaw (and we still had almost four pounds of strawberries left), we topped the pupusas with fresh strawberries. It was a nice contrast in texture and flavor over the roasted strawberries and wasn’t just because it also made the pictures “more pretty.”
  • A touch more mint sugar on top. I’m not sure why we’ve never muddled sugar and mint together before, but we’re sure going to be doing it again.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas

ROASTED STRAWBERRY PUPUSAS WITH MINT SUGAR AND SWEET CREMA

Makes about 4 Pupusas.

For the Pupusas:

  • 2 Cups Masa flour
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt

1.  Combine all of the ingredients by hand in a medium bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

For the Roasted Strawberries:

  • Approximately 2 Pints Strawberries
  • 1/8 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl, then spread the strawberries out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

2.  After roasting all the berries, allow to cool to at least room temperature.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

For the Mint Sugar:

  • 5-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 5 teaspoons Sugar

1.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind the mint and sugar together until they are one.

Mint Sugar

For the Sweet Crema:

  • 1/2 Cup Salvadorian Crema
  • 1 Tablespoon Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1.  Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl  until combined. Add more sugar to your liking.

Additional Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Queso Fresco
  • 1 Pint Fresh Strawberries, diced
  • Coconut Oil for frying

Let’s Make Pupusas:

1.  Using a standard size ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough and flatten with a rolling pin into a circle or use a tortilla press. Place a tablespoon of the strawberries in the middle, along with a slice of queso fresco, and a dusting of the mint sugar. Take another scoop of dough, flatten again, and place on top (kind of like a tortilla sandwich), then seal the edges. Repeat until you run out of dough.

2.  Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat and add enough coconut oil, so that the pan is generously covered, but still shallow enough that your pupusa won’t be drowning.

3.  Fry each pupusa individually in the oil, about four minutes per side (they’ll be golden brown). Place them on a cooling rack or paper towel to cool.

4.  Serve the finished pupusa with a sprinkling of the mint sugar, diced strawberries, and the sweet crema.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

Brainstorming Notes Behind Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza

[This is post #043 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

The Internets are all a fury with the news that Pizza Huts’ hot dog stuffed crust pizza (The Hot Dog Bites Pizza) would finally be coming to America. (Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the freaking Bacon Box to catch on…)

Some people love it.

Some people despise it.

But there’s one thing that can’t be debated:  A lot of hard work went into developing the pizza. Fortunately, the actualbrainstorming notes from the Hot Dog Bite Pizza creative development meeting were leaked recently.

Below are some excerpts, while you can view the full page here.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Every good idea involves at least one venn diagram.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Whew…we were THIS close to a puppy stuffed crust pizza.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Would really like to see the full discussion.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

The engineers have their work cut out for them.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

More tough questions being asked.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

More work for the engineers…

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

I’m not sure they picked the best name.

Wow, really insightful stuff here. I learned more from these notes than in the five years I spent in college.

And I sure as heck can’t wait for the Churro Crust Pizza!

But seriously, WHEN CAN I GET A BACON BOX?!

The Pizza Hut Bacon Box | getinmymouf.com

*Not actual.

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