Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Skip the takeout! This will be your go-to Thai curry soup! Serve with fresh Thai basil, cilantro and lime juice. So cozy, so good.

Skip the takeout! This will be your go-to Thai curry soup! Serve with fresh Thai basil, cilantro and lime juice. So cozy, so good.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Skip the takeout! This will be your go-to Thai curry soup! Serve with fresh Thai basil, cilantro and lime juice. So cozy, so good.

Hello, cozy-soup-weather-season.

When it’s 34 degrees F windchill in the middle of October and it’s too cold to go outside, we’re all staying home with this Thai coconut curry soup.

The freshly squeezed lime juice, Thai basil and cilantro adds such brightness to this soup, cutting through the heat to give it just enough of a spicy kick. For less heat, you can easily cut down on the red curry paste to your liking.

You can serve it as is, you can add rice, you can add rice noodles, you can sub out the shrimp for chicken, or you can keep it completely meatless.

It is all good, guys. There’s no going wrong here!

Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Skip the takeout! This will be your go-to Thai curry soup! Serve with fresh Thai basil, cilantro and lime juice. So cozy, so good.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Skip the takeout! This will be your go-to Thai curry soup! Serve with fresh Thai basil, cilantro and lime juice. So cozy, so good.

15 minutes40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add bell peppers and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in red curry paste, ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Gradually whisk in chicken stock, tomato sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Stir in coconut milk and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat; stir in basil, cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Serve immediately.

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Merlot Pairings for #MerlotMe Month

It’s been a whirlwind start to October.  October holds a number of reasons to celebrate for me.  For personal reasons it’s my birthday, wedding anniversary and one of my favorite holidays.  On the flip side it’s Italian Heritage Month and #MerlotMe month.  This year I was completely honored with the samples that I received from participating wineries.  This meant lots of sampling and brainstorming for pairings to go with each.  On top of it all I leave Sunday for my 10th trip back to Italy for a press trip to the island of Sicily.  Happy Birthday to me! 

So what is #MerlotMe month?  October is International Merlot Month and the hashtag #MerlotMe was created to spread love across the wine world for this beloved grape.  #MerlotMe is celebrating it’s 7th year since it was started and our Wine Pairing Weekend group has teamed up to provide a wide variety of samples pairings to go with merlot.  Let’s get started! 

Thirteen bottles later I wondered what was the best way to tackle this.  To say the least lots of cooking, crazy kids running around the kitchen and lots of wine pouring.  It was a feast of merlot!  I paired up 2-4 bottles per dish and although they really all were great in their own way I had my favs of each night.  There was no method to the wine pairing selection as many of these wines were new to me.   

2018 Rutherford Hill Rose of MerlotAs a sipper to get things started I began with the 2018 Rutherford Hill Merlot Rosé.  Rutherford Hill is located in Napa Valley and is part of the Terlato Family Winery.  Although we’re in the heart of fall here in New England it doesn’t mean that we need to stop drinking rosé.  This was a dry rose’, refreshing, very smooth on the palette with lots of peach and some citrus.  A slight tingle of acidity on the finish leaving a nice crisp lingering flavor.  ABV 13.5% SRP $34 

Merlot Pairing #1 ~ Pulled Pork 
I’m not ashamed to admit that being short on time this past week called for a slow cooker night.  Having participated in a number of these #MerlotMe events I felt pork was the way to go with a couple of my dishes this year.  Going lighter on the sauce with the pulled pork allowed these wines to shine.  With lots of vegetables from our CSA farmshare I was able to prepare some zucchini with a couple of my dishes as I’m trying to encourage my little ones to eat them.  #failure 
2015 Rutherford hill merlot pairingMerlot food and wine pairing

Slow cooker pulled pork with merlot
  • 2015 Rutherford Hill Merlot – This merlot is blended with cabernet sauvignon and syrah.  Ripe black cherries on the nose.  Medium-bodied with moderate tannin and beautiful cherries and plums on the palette with some vanilla.  A well-balanced wine.  ABV 14.5% SRP $34   
  • 2017 J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot – This wine comes from Paso Robles made of 82% merlot, 16% malbec and 2% cabernet sauvignon.  Aromas of cherry and blackberries.  I enjoyed the fruit on this one.  Medium-bodied and balanced displaying violet, blackberries with a touch of tannin and oak on the finish. ABV 14% SRP $15 
  • 2017 Decoy Merlot – Decoy falls under the Duckhorn Vineyards brand and this Sonoma County wine comes from quality that can be enjoyed in its youth.  Made of 96% merlot with 4% cabernet sauvignon aged in 100% french oak.  Lots of licorice and herbal notes on the nose.  An interesting palette, almost a cherry cough syrup taste.  Not what I’ve experienced in the past with this brand.  ABV 14% SPR $25  
  • 2016 Seven Hills Winery Merlot – Coming from the Walla Walla Valley of Washington. The nose was initially lighter making it tricky to decipher some of the aromas, but with time opened up to green pepper, raspberry notes.   Bright fruit, plums, currants and blackberry with nice acidity and spice.  A nice silkiness with some tannin and oak showing up on the finish.  I actually didn’t taste this one with the pulled pork as it came in too late, but I wish I had a chance to pair it with a dish.  ABV 14.% SRP $25 

Merlot Pairing #2 ~ Classic Meatloaf 
Nothing says home cooked meals like some comfort food.  What I love about meatloaf is that you can always play with the way its prepared with adding ingredients or how it is dressed on the top. Nothing far outside the norm on this dish, but I loved how these 2 choices went so well with it. 
Meatloaf pairing with Merlot
  • 2017 Bonterra Merlot – It’s been years since I’ve had a Bonterra unfortunately and won’t be the last.  Made from organic grapes and a SRP of $16 this was definitely a favorite of mine in the lineup.  With a small blend of petite syrah and malbec added the wine was aged 1 year in French and American oak.  With aromas of plums and blackberries on the palette this wine was rich in dark fruit with toasty, vanilla and spice nuances.  ABV 14% 
  • 2016 L’Ecole Walla Walla Valley Merlot – I enjoyed both of the merlot wines from L’Ecole in  Washington state.  This wine hails from 2 of L’ecole’s prime vineyards, Ferguson and Seven Hills Vineyard.  A dense wine rich in dark fruits and tobacco notes with a solid backbone of acidity.  ABV 14.5% SRP $37 
Merlot Pairing #3 ~ Boneless Pork Chop with a Fig Sauce and Risotto 
I love when a dish comes out like I was hoping and this was my favorite pairing of all.  The fig sauce stole the show and combined with the pork and these wonderful merlot selections it was a win wine all around.  Although it was a close call on my favorite pairing of the three the Duckhorn inched out to lead the pack.   
Merlot pairing with boneless pork chop with fig sauce risotto
  • 2016 Seavey Vineyard Merlot – This merlot from Seavey Vineyard in Napa Valley is blended with 5% cabernet sauvignon and aged 100% in french oak.  Lots of layers to this full-bodied wine.  Aromas of blackberries and blueberries.  Silky and round on the palette with a hint of green bell pepper.  ABV 14.% SRP $65 
  • 2016 Duckhorn Merlot – Duckhorn is a wine I’ve tried over the last few years and always seems to impress.  Duckhorn Vineyards is located in Napa Valley and this wine is a blend of grapes from their own estate as well as select independent growers.  Plums, raspberries with toasty notes a rather full-bodied wine with elegance.  ABV 14.5% SRP $56 
  • 2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot – Another winery I’m familiar with in prior years and I was a big fan of the red fruit aromas in the glass on this one.  A wine with structure displaying black cherry and ripe raspberries, vanilla, tobacco, cedar notes and moderate tannins.  ABV 14.5% SRP $55 

Merlot Pairing #4 ~ Turkey Burger topped with swiss cheese and sauteed portobello mushrooms 
I wish I paired this dish with angus burgers instead of the turkey burgers as they turkey lends a certain taste to the dish and I feel the other flavors would have paired better.  The portobello mushrooms were a must though as this always seems to be a natural pairing with merlot.   
Swiss Turkey Burger with Sauteed mushroom merlot pairing
  • 2018 Casillero del Diablo Merlot Riserva  – This was the only wine I tasted out of country coming from The Central Valley appellation in Chile.  It was noticeable the difference in taste where the other wines were more fruit forward.  Medium in body displaying blackberries, currants, raspberries and spice with vanilla and oak showing on the finish.  ABV 13.5% SRP $12 
  • 2016 L’Ecole Merlot – This other merlot from L’Ecole comes from the Columbia Valley, the largest in eastern Washington state.   A blend of 78% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, 3% petit verdot and 3% malbec. Aged for over 18 months in small oak barrels.   In comparison to the L’Ecole Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley I found this wine to shower brighter red fruits.  Nice acidity and well balanced.  Both beautiful wines and this one only priced at $25.  ABV 14.5% 
  • 2014 Northstar Merlot – A second time for me featuring this wine in a different vintage.  Also coming from the Columbia Valley of Washington state.  Made of 76% merlot and 24% cabernet sauvignon.  More towards fuller bodied lending on the side of dark fruits including lush black cherries and plums with some herbal notes and spice.  ABV 14.5% SRP $41 
Plenty of merlot food and wine pairings with my fellow food and winelovers below.  Join us live on Twitter this Saturday 11am EST with #WinePW and enjoy some Merlot throughout the month of October.  I can’t wait to hear some of your favorites!

 

*All wines were provided as samples, but opinions are strictly my own.

Chef’s Blog: Urban Plates Fall Menu

After what has seemed like one of the hotter summers here in Southern California we have finally gotten a little break from the heat with our first little set of rain showers and cooler temperatures. Our family kicked off the first fall days with an apple picking trip to our nearby mountains. We spent the morning bundled up in our rain gear and boots toting our toddler through low clouds and mist searching for the tastiest varieties of apples and pears at our favorite organic orchard. After tasting many varieties and filling our bags to the brim we considered ourselves successful and went in search of a warm, dry spot to fill our bellies with some lunch.

We found a cute little café with a small fire and some heartwarming chicken pot pie. After recharging and warming up we finished the adventure with a slice of tasty apple pie! It was the perfect fit for this quintessential fall day.

I am now officially ready for the fall season! Of course, I had to immediately start cooking with our bounty of apples and this has just kick started my jump into fall cooking. I love this time of the year because we start to get a new influx of produce and I break out my favorite pots in preparation for soups and stews.

Our fall menu is debuting October 9th this year and we will be highlighting the beginning of the season’s produce in each new item. I hope you can enjoy the beginning of fall and we think these new dishes are a great way to get started.

Lamb Osso Bucco

Our Lamb Osso Bucco debuted last year and was such a hit we felt like it would be perfect for the fall and winter weather that is quickly approaching. Osso bucco is a northern Italian dish traditionally prepared with veal shank. The inspiration for our osso bucco dish came from when I worked in a small family owned restaurant in northern Italy where they slow cooked lamb in a wood fired oven with stock and spring vegetables. We have carefully sourced a sustainably raised grass fed lamb shank as the center of this braise.

We start our lamb osso bucco with a classic red wine sauce reduction infused with thyme, oregano, rosemary, lemon and bay leaf. After the sauce has only a hint of acidity and the herbs have bloomed we combine the bone in lamb with our scratch made chicken stock, organic carrots, onion, celery and the wine reduction sauce. We then slow cook everything overnight until the lamb is fork tender, almost falling off the bone and the marrow has permeated the sauce. This slow and careful, yet simple preparation makes this a hearty and delicious braise with a light bodied sauce. We serve the braise with a mint gremolata, an Italian herb sauce, made from fresh raw mint, lemon zest, garlic and a hint of spices. This bright green sauce adds a refreshing aspect to the whole dish and pairs perfectly with the earthy lamb. We serve the osso bucco with our luscious mashed potatoes and a slice of grilled rustic bread. I love eating this on colder nights when I am in the mood for something comforting.

As we enter the fall season, soup is one of the first foods I start craving. The weather is turning and I am looking for that comforting feeling that comes with enjoying a bowl of made-from-scratch soup.

Sweet Potato, Carrot & Red Curry Soup

This fall’s seasonal soup is inspired by traditional Thai red curry dishes and the sweet potato season. We lightly sauté local sweet potatoes, organic carrots, jalapenos, onions and garlic until they are sweet and tender and then add a sachet of bright herbs including fresh ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. Our chefs slowly simmer these beautiful vegetables with fresh red curry, chili sauce and our scratch made vegetable stock until the soup is perfectly cooked and the ingredients and flavors are beautifully bloomed. We finish the soup by pureeing it with a splash of rice wine vinegar. The final product is a beautiful velvety and smooth soup that is well balanced with a natural sweetness and creaminess from the sweet potatoes and carrots countered by a rich spiciness and brightness from the fresh herbs and rice vinegar. This soup is vegan and gluten free.

Seafood Chowder

Our seafood chowder is inspired by the traditional New England style chowders of our chef’s home town. Of course, he has added his own unique twist to our recipe. We start by slowly cooking bacon to render the fat and enhance the smoky pork flavor. We then lightly cook organic carrots, sweet onions, celery and organic yukon gold potatoes with spices traditional to shrimp and crab boils, fresh oregano, thyme and bay leaf until the vegetables are tender and the herbs have bloomed. We add milk, cream and clam juice and slowly simmer the soup with fresh fish and shrimp to gently cook everything. Our chef wanted to make this soup available to gluten sensitive guests, so we have omitted the use of flour as a thickener and replaced it with a tapioca starch! It doesn’t change the flavor at all and keeps the creamy smooth texture we love it a great chowder. The bacon adds a smoky background flavor that contrasts nicely with the mild seafood profile. The vegetables add a perfect amount of texture and create an umami flavor with the spices that are complemented by the light sweetness from the cream and milk. Enjoy a bowl of chowder on its own or add a cup to any salad, sandwich or plate.

White Bean & Collard Greens with Turkey Bacon Hot Side

This fall we are debuting a new hot side inspired by a classic southern side, beans and collard greens. I grew up with collard greens as a regular accompaniment at dinner time, especially during the fall season when collard greens are at their peak in the southeastern United States. The Urban Plates version starts by soaking dried white cannellini beans overnight and then creating a beautiful organic tomato-based broth with sautéed turkey bacon, sweet yellow onions, garlic, red bell pepper, smoked paprika and scratch made chicken stock. We then slow simmer the white beans in the tomato broth until the beans are tender and creamy. The collard greens are added at the very end of the cooking process to preserve their texture and nutrients, cooked just enough to make them tender. We then add a splash of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of nutritional yeast to finish the side. I may be partial to this side since I have fond memories of collard greens from childhood, but it is a truly addictive flavor profile. The tomato broth is a perfect base with a light sweet- acidic flavor and smokiness from the bacon. The creaminess of the beans adds a heartiness that showcases the earthy collard greens and makes for a perfect pairing. On top of being a hearty and delicious side it is also a healthy option. The collard greens have the benefit of being loaded with sulphur- containing compounds called glucosinolates, which support detoxification. They are a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A and they’re also rich in soluble fiber and antioxidants. The cannellini beans are loaded with plant-based protein and are an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron and magnesium. I can eat a bowl of this side on its own with a nice piece of our grilled rustic bread, but also enjoy pairing it with our grilled cage-free chicken and mashed potatoes to really feel like I am enjoying a meal from my childhood.

Red Lentils and Black Bean Cold Side

Also debuting this fall is our legume based cold side. This is a great option if you are looking for a healthy and hearty side that has a beautiful refreshing flavor profile with great textures. Lentils and black beans are both in the legume family and are low in calories, highly nutritious with protein, fiber, folate and magnesium. We start by gently simmering the lentils until they are tender, but not falling apart. These are then chilled and tossed with the black beans, crisp raw celery, bright cherry tomatoes, fresh green onions, hand chopped cilantro and our scratch made North Africa chili sauce, harissa. This beautiful sauce is made with whole chili pods pureed with cumin, coriander, lime juice, a hint of vinegar and finished with organic olive oil. The combination of the rich beans with the raw vegetables and cilantro make this side eat light with bursts of crisp and refreshing flavors and textures. The harissa sauce adds a little punch of spiciness and tanginess from the lime. This healthy side also has the added benefit of being vegan and gluten free.

Antioxidant Salad

With the changing season we are updating this salad with fall fruits. The strawberries and blueberries will be replaced by apples and oranges. This beautiful salad is a great way to load up on healthy whole fruits and vegetables.

Pomegranate Cranberry Replenisher

Our pomegranate cranberry replenisher is my favorite fall replenisher. It is a blend of raw whole fruits and organic juices that have no sugar added. Pomegranates and cranberries are both excellent antioxidants and full of vitamin C and K. The addition of freshly juiced raw ginger gives this slightly tangy juice a spicy note that is sweetened by organic apple and orange juices. We blend everything together and then pass it through a wider hole strainer to allow some of the fruit pulp to remain in the drink. The texture creates depth and makes you feel like you are drinking the whole unaltered fruit. This replenisher is a perfect showcase of fall fruits with the added benefit of providing you with a little immunity boost with the changing season.

Apple, Acai & Beet Replenisher

This new whole fruit and vegetable replenisher is a great blend of high- antioxidant and anti- inflammatory ingredients. Acai, the super berry, is a powerhouse of nutrients with high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A and dietary fiber. Beets and carrots are loaded with carotenoids and nitrates. We use whole raw fruits and vegetables and extract the juices to capture all the great health benefits. The combination of the slightly acidic acai is balanced by the natural sweetness of the apple and rounded out with the earthy beet and carrot profiles. There are no added sugars making this a healthy, guilt free replenisher.

Red Velvet Parfait

In designing this new pastry item, we wanted to offer an alternative to the traditional desserts associated with the fall season. Our pastry chef has taken the classic red velvet flavor profile and craftily developed a unique raw vegan version based on red beets which are just coming back into season after the warmer summer days. Our red velvet parfait starts with a “red velvet cake” layer made of pureed raw red beets, dates, almond flour, vanilla bean, coconut and cocoa powder. It is then topped with a layer of “frosting” made of pureed soaked raw cashews, maple syrup, agave, lemon juice, vanilla, coconut and a pinch of sea salt. Each individual parfait is topped with seasonal fruit and edible flowers. You may be skeptical of a dessert with beets, but I promise if I hadn’t mentioned the vegetable you wouldn’t have guessed it as an ingredient. The “red velvet” layer tastes like the traditional cake with a prominent cocoa note and a beautiful red color from the beets and a rich creamy texture from the almonds and coconut. The frosting layer could easily pass for a less sweet version of cream cheese frosting with a light velvety texture, beautiful vanilla flavor and little acidity from the fresh lemon juice. This lower sugar dessert is also nutrient dense with the almonds and cashews as a base and is completely raw so you can absorb all those nutrients. We feel this is a great balance to many of our traditional dessert offerings and gives you a healthier choice while dining with us.

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Buttercream

Apple season is the epitome of fall for me. Every year I look forward to the opening of our local u-pick apple orchards. I love loading up on all the different varieties and making apple everything… pies, cider, tarts, fresh apple sauce and my favorite fresh apple cake with caramel buttercream! I mean how can you resist the perfect combination of apples and caramel. This cake consists of four luscious cake layers made with fresh organic apples, walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon and turmeric. The cake layers are a beautiful golden color from the turmeric and have a lively spiced flavor profile. The cake layers are then filled with caramel buttercream made with our handmade caramel sauce, sweet cream butter and a hint of cream cheese whipped to a delicate fluffy consistency. The cake is topped with caramelized apples and a drizzle of caramel sauce. The fresh tangy apples are tempered by the rich caramel flavor and warmed with the fall spices, making this the perfect fall dessert. We will offer this cake by the slice and whole…. in case you want to share.

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Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos - Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos - Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

I had a friend text me the other night and ask me, “Hey, I got this giant pork shoulder on sale. What on earth can I do with it?!”

I think I replied in 0.25 seconds.  “IP pork nachos. What else would you make?”

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos - Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

Hello, it’s Game Day season and we always, always need a giant sheet pan of nachos, no questions asked. And why not make them in the pressure cooker that takes such minimal effort?

Am I right or am I right?

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos - Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

So let’s make IP pulled pork (especially if you have clearance pork shoulder!), pressure cooked for 40 minutes. Do your quick-release, shred your pork, top off your chips, and bake until melted cheesy heaven.

Serve with all your favorite toppings. Pickled jalapenos are an absolute must in my book!

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos - Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Nachos

Crowd-pleasing, fully-loaded nachos with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth, juicy shredded pork. So tender, so good!

20 minutes1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (12-ounce) pilsner or lager beer
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 12 ounces tortilla chips
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup pico de gallo, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup guacamole
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

Directions:

  1. Set a 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting.
  2. Heat canola oil; season pork with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, add pork and cook until evenly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in beer, garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 40 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Remove pork shoulder from the Instant Pot® and shred the meat using two forks; season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  6. Place tortilla chips in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Top with 2 cups shredded pork (reserve remaining pork for later use), black beans, pico de gallo and cheeses.
  7. Place into oven and bake until heated through and the cheeses have melted, about 10-12 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately, topped with guacamole, jalapenos, cilantro and sour cream.

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The Variety of Abruzzo Wines

The wines of Abruzzo are best known for their montepulciano d’abruzzo, but there is so much more.  Today I’m highlighting some wines I recently received to try and others I had at some tastings earlier this summer from Abruzzo that I’ve been waiting to share with you.  Our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group this month takes you all through the wines of Abruzzo with some suggested pairings along the way. 

The Land ~ Abruzzo 
Abruzzo is located in central Italy located on the east coast along the Adriatic.  Bordering Le Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and Molise to the south.  It’s about 2/3 covered in mountains and is one of the most if not the most mountainous region in central and southern Italy.  The Apennine mountain range runs through it plus the Gran Sasso in northern Abruzzo with Monti della Lago and Massif of Mariella as well.   

The Wineries 
The first three wines I share below come from Codice Citra.  Codice Citra is a winery founded in 1973.  Three of the wines today including the Citra, Caldora and Ferzo are all part of this overarching brand.  Codice Citra is made up of a bunch of small families combining a variety of terroirs and climates in the province of Chieti.  The winemaking is overlooked by the famous Italian enologist, Riccardo Cotarella, whom I’ve talked about in previous posts assisting other wineries throughout Italy.  The grapes grown in this area benefits from the “brezza di terra” as their website mentions which creates the perfect climate with cold air traveling from the mountains with the warm air from the sea. 

The Grapes 
No matter how many wines you try I feel there is always something to learn, especially when it comes to Italian wine.  This month I tried a wine from a grape I actually hadn’t even heard of, cococciolaCococciola is a grape native to southern Abruzzo almost all hailing from the province of Chieti.  It is a grape that has been typically blended with trebbiano, but in the wine I present today it stands alone.   

White wines only make up about 40% of Abruzzo’s wines with reds dominating the pack.  Trebbiano is the leading white grape, but there are others like cococciola and pecorino.  Montepulciano leads the charge of red grapes with dominating over half of the production. 

The Wine 
2017 Ferzo Cococciola IGP Terre di Chieti 2017 Ferzo Cococciola IGP Terre di Chieti – This wine is made from 100% cococciola.  The grapes are gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel.  This is the wine’s 3rd vintage.  Straw colored and rather light in body.  Stone fruit on the nose with a refreshing palate with crisp acidity up front and lingering citrus and apple notes through the finish.  ABV 13% SRP $26 

2017 Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP – A brand many are familiar with and I actually remember an Italian restaurant that I worked for when I was young using this wine in their cooking.  Citra produces 24 million bottles so to say they are quite large is an understatement.  This wine is deep ruby in color.  Full bodied and fruit forward, rich in dark berries.  A great every day, easy drinking wine.  It’s hard not to beat when it’s only about $8 a bottle.  ABV 13%  

Pairing: I paired this wine with a classic chicken parmesan dish with a side of eggplant parmesan.  To be honest I feel that either this or the Caldora Sangiovese would’ve worked out just as well.

chicken parmesan pairing with montepulciano d'abruzzo

2016 Caldora Sangiovese Terre di Chieti IGT2016 Caldora Sangiovese Terre di Chieti IGT – I’m a sangiovese lover as you may know so was excited to try this from the Abruzzo region.  Dark dark ruby and dark cherry on the nose.  The fruit was more pronounced and not as dry as their counterpart and comparison to some of the Tuscan wines.  More round with softer tannin.  Notes of vanilla and well-balanced.  Another easy drinking wine and only about $10-12 bottle.  ABV 12.5% SRP $10-12 

My personal selections from tastings earlier this summer are: 

2015 Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva DOC2015 Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva DOC– From the esteemed Masciarelli winery this line of wines is named after the founder, Gianni Masciarelli’s wife, Marina Cvetic.  The 100% montepulciano grapes that produce this wine come from their prized San Martino sulla Marruccina estate in the Chieti province.  Rich, lush raspberries with vanilla and baking spice notes.  Well structured with balanced acidity and moderate tannin.  This wine is aged 12-18 months in French barrique before being bottled.  ABV 14.5% SRP $26-30 

2015 Orlandi Contucci Ponno Podere La Regia Specula Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG2015 Orlandi Contucci Ponno Podere La Regia Specula Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG – Under the Agricole Gussalli Beretta the Orlandi Contucci Ponno winery is situated about a mile from the Adriatic and rather close to the Gran Sasso.  Made from 100% montepulciano this wine spends 12 months partially in tonneaux and partially in 20 hectolitre barrels plus 6 months in the bottle.  Full-bodied showing cherries and red fruits with some tannin showing through on the finish.  ABV 13.5% SRP Wine Searcher says this bottle goes for $9 and I couldn’t find any other pricing, but if that is the case it’s one heck of a deal.


Below are the the fellow Italian Food, Wine and Travel participants with their food and wine pairing selections.  Join the live Twitter chat this Saturday October 5th at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  

  • Steven from Wine and Food Pairings will discuss “Cioppino – Red or White Wine? #Italian FWT” 
  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will share about “The Food and Wines of Abruzzo”
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will bring us “Scrippelle ‘mbusse + Ferzo Passerina” 
  • Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen will reveal “5 Iconic Abruzzo Wines to Try from Torre Zambra” 
  • Gwendolyn from Wine Predator from tastes and shares “3 Montepulciano and 1 Trebbiano from d’Abruzzo #ItalianFWT” 
  • Cindy from Grape Experiences from suggests the you “Immerse Yourself in Wines from Abruzzo for a Genuine Taste of Italy” 
  • Pinny from Chinese Food and Wine Pairing is “Celebrating Abruzzo Wines with the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay”
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass suggests “Abruzzo wines to pair with fresh fall produce (#ItalianFWT)” 
  • Jeff foodwineclick brings us “Pairing Magic with Ferzo Pecorino and Squash Risotto” 
  • Nicole from Somm’s Table“Cooking to the Wine: Lammidia Anfora Rosso from Abruzzo & Post Roast with Tomatoes and Chickpeas” 
  • David from Cooking Chat Cooking Chat, will share “Baked Haddock with Pasta and White Wine from Abruzzo”
  • Susannah from Avvinare will take “A Fresh Look at the Wines of Abruzzo” 
  • Rupal from Syrah Queen will share “Exploring The Wine & Gastronomy of Abruzzo” 
  • Katarina from Grapevine Adventures San Lorenzo Winery – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo between Sea and Mountain 

 

*All wines were provided as samples, but opinions are strictly my own.

Chicken Harvest Salad

Chicken Harvest Salad - Juicy, tender chicken, crisp bacon, apples, figs and almonds with a honey Dijon vinaigrette. The ultimate, feel-good autumn salad!!

Juicy, tender chicken, crisp bacon, apples, figs and almonds with a honey Dijon vinaigrette. The ultimate, feel-good autumn salad!!

Chicken Harvest Salad - Juicy, tender chicken, crisp bacon, apples, figs and almonds with a honey Dijon vinaigrette. The ultimate, feel-good autumn salad!!

Hello, Fall!

Or should I say hello, Winter? I wore my parka this morning. No joke. It was 50 degrees F, and the highs next week will be 48 degrees F.

But hey, it’s technically Fall so I’m just going to roll with that and make this harvest salad for as long as possible. And yes, I am absolutely grilling my chicken until we have snowfall, which may happen in a few weeks! But don’t worry, guys. A grill pan on the stovetop will work just fine.

Aside from the juicy, tender grilled chicken thighs, we also have crunchy kale, crisp bacon, sliced apples, fresh, sweet figs, chopped almonds and crumbled goat cheese with a super bomb honey Dijon vinaigrette.

It’s the absolute must-have, feel-good Fall salad, guys. I promise.

Chicken Harvest Salad - Juicy, tender chicken, crisp bacon, apples, figs and almonds with a honey Dijon vinaigrette. The ultimate, feel-good autumn salad!!

Chicken Harvest Salad

Juicy, tender chicken, crisp bacon, apples, figs and almonds with a honey Dijon vinaigrette. The ultimate, feel-good autumn salad!!

20 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into thirds
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Kosher salt freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and leaves shredded
  • 1 medium apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup quartered fresh figs
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

For the honey Dijon vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, honey and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Preheat grill to medium heat. Season chicken with thyme, onion powder and garlic powder.
  4. Brush chicken with canola oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to grill, and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
  5. To assemble the salad, place kale in a large bowl; top with bacon, chicken, apple, figs, celery, almonds and goat cheese. Pour the honey Dijon vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  6. Serve immediately.

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Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings

Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings - Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings - Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

This is my favorite part about game day.

It’s not the actual games. I don’t even know how football works. I can also never find the ball. There’s just a lot of tackling and stopping? And then people running? I don’t know.

Anyway. The best part about game day is the actual game day food!

Dips, queso, hot dogs, sliders, finger foods…all of it. And now to add to this arsenal is (drum roll, please…):

Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings - Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN WINGS!

This is a riff on my favorite recipe here, something I make legit weekly. Except I kind of like it even more in wing-form. They just get so perfectly crispy and smoky on the grill, and they cook up SO FAST!

Just be sure to serve with plenty of cold beers and extra lime wedges for the best wing experience ever.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings - Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Wings

Oh-so-perfectly crispy, charred + smoky with the easiest marinade. Cilantro, lime, cumin, chili powder. So simple yet so good!

2 hours 15 minutes15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken wings or drumettes

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime zest, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken and cilantro mixture; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade.
  3. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  4. Brush chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to grill, and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 12 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, combine chicken, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice.
  6. Serve immediately.

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Tag @damn_delicious on Instagram and hashtag it #damndelicious.

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Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese - A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese - A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

I have been on a mac and cheese binge lately.

I particularly like to add broccoli to it when I can, here and here – you know, for added veggies and all. And then I sometimes like to make it on a sheet pan for those maximum crispy bits – because guys, who wants to share those crispy edges, right?

But sometimes you just need a classic, extra-sharp cheddar mac and cheese without any fuss or any babysitting.

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese - A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

Something you can make basically hands-free in just 6 minutes. And it’s super ideal if the pasta can cook with the rest of your ingredients.

Well, you guys are in so much luck because the Instant Pot will do all of this for you. Yes, the IP will cook your pasta, and the residual heat will melt all that cheesy goodness into that cream pool of heaven.

And we all know Thanksgiving is right around the corner so this will be all ready in your arsenal, not taking up any oven space at all.

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese - A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

A super short ingredient list with just 6 min in the pressure cooker! So easy, quick, and unbelievably creamy. SO SO GOOD.

15 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-ounce) package medium pasta shells
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Add pasta, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder to a 6-qt Instant Pot®. Stir in 3 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 6 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Select warm setting. Stir in heavy cream and Dijon until warmed, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in cheeses until melted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Serve immediately.

Did you Make This Recipe?

Tag @damn_delicious on Instagram and hashtag it #damndelicious.

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Leading the way for Teroldego in the Trentino with Elisabetta Foradori

For a long time now I’ve heard about the wines of Elisabetta Foradori, but had yet to try them.  I attended a tasting and tried a couple of the teroldego wines that she produces.  Until I did my research into the Foradori winery as well as studing for my Italian Wine Scholar certification I didn’t realize that impact she has made on the wine industry in the Trentino wine region, especially with the teroldego grape. 

The Winery 
The Foradori winery was started back in 1939 by Vittorio Foradori.  Due to the passing of Vittorio, his daughter Elisabetta Foradori took over upon her graduation in enology from the Istituto di San michele all’Adige.  

Biodynamic wines of Elisabetta Foradori
Elisabetta Foradori

Elisabetta has made many changes including becoming biodynamic in 2002 with a later Demeter certification in 2009.  In 2010 Elisabetta and 10 other producers established the I Dolomitici consortium in Trentino.  Their site provides an in depth look into the close care and attention that she takes in producing wines biodynamically.  It’s all about a relationship with nature, the vines and the land with the least amount of manipulation to allow the grapes to show their true selves in the glass. 


Campo Rotaliano wines of Elisabetta ForadoriThe Grape ~ Teroldego 
Teroldego is a grape native to Trentino and grows particularly well in the area of the Campo RotalianoThis plateau of flat land surrounded by the mountains in northern Trentino is made of stony alluvial soils, limestone and gravel.   

Teroldego wines are dark and deep in color, full-bodied, rather fruity with ripe berries, smooth tannins and a little spice.  Aged wines developer further dense, complex characteristics.   

The Wine 
2015 Foradori Granato TeroldegoThe 2015 Foradori Granato Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT is made of 100% teroldego.  It is sourced from 3 vineyards of theirs in the Campo Rotaliano.  The wine is fermented in large open oak casks and spends 15 months in old oak botti up to 22 hectolitres.   It is unfiltered with an additional year of age in the bottle.  A beautifully dense and concentrated wine rich in blueberries and blackberries.  Full-bodied, but nice elegance with a lasting finish.  SRP $53 

The Granato is the longest aged wine they have.  The first vintage of Granato was produced back in 1986.  This wine brought international attention and recognition to what Elisabetta was and is achieving at the winery.  

On their 70 acres of land, 75% of it is dedicated to teroldego with the rest including manzoni bianco, nosiola and pinot grigio.  The winery originally used new French barriques with some of their wines, but hasn’t used any new or used barriques since 2008.  Elisabetta felt it was better to shift to a “gentle and traditional, true terroir focus”.  Winemaking choices like this, plus being organic, biodynamic, hand-harvesting grapes, spontaneous fermentation and other methods are what make her wines special.   

Today Elisabetta is joined in the winery by her two sons and I look forward to hopefully trying some of the other wines that she produces and learning more about her mark in the wine industry in Trentino.  

 
*Pictures copyright of Elisabetta Foradori and photographer Andrea Scaramuzza.

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs - A speedy dinner made in 30 min from start to finish! Served with the most heavenly lemon dill cream sauce of your life.

A speedy dinner made in 30 min from start to finish! Served with the most heavenly lemon dill cream sauce of your life.

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs - A speedy dinner made in 30 min from start to finish! Served with the most heavenly lemon dill cream sauce of your life.

I present to you the speediest chicken dinner. Aka, a stress-free weeknight meal made in 30 min from start to finish.

I’m dead serious. I have no tricks up my sleeve on this one. It really is the quickest chicken dinner anyone can ask for.

All you need is some boneless, skinless chicken thighs (chicken breasts will also work just fine here). Give them a good sear until they are fully cooked through. From there, you’ll use all the pan drippings with some flour, chicken stock, lemon juice and fresh dill to create the creamiest gravy ever.

This gravy/cream sauce makes this dish SO SO BOMB.

Serve with some rice, serve with a salad, serve with some potatoes, serve alone. You do you. I personally eat it straight out of the skillet. #weddingdiet

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs - A speedy dinner made in 30 min from start to finish! Served with the most heavenly lemon dill cream sauce of your life.

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs

A speedy dinner made in 30 min from start to finish! Served with the most heavenly lemon dill cream sauce of your life.

15 minutes15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions:

  1. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken in 4 tablespoons flour until evenly coated.
  2. Heat canola oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  3. Working in batches, add chicken to the skillet in a single layer and cook until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side; set aside. Reduce heat to medium low.
  4. Whisk in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  5. Gradually whisk in chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in dill; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Return chicken to the skillet.
  6. Serve immediately.

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