Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pizza-Style Stuffed Zucchini Boats


Here is a fun and healthy dinner for the whole family to enjoy! A nice little 'twist' on pizza. It has no crust so it is low-carb, but keeps all the amazing flavors we know and love!

Very simple too!:)

Pizza-Style Stuffed Zucchini Boats


6 zucchinis
1 lb ground turkey (or other ground meat)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb sliced mushrooms
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
minced fresh basil


Cut each zucchini into halves and scrape out insides of zucchini into a pot that will be used to make the stuffing.

Add to the pot with the zucchini pulp (the scraped out insides) ground turkey, onion, fresh garlic, and mushrooms.

Brown all together, drain, season with salt pepper and Italian seasoning, then stir in a jar (or can) of tomato sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and minced basil.

Then stuff!

Top with more sprinkled cheese (and extra mushrooms if you love mushrooms like my family does!), bake at 350 for half hour and DONE :)

Feel free to switch up the ingredients with your own pizza topping favorites - chopped pepperoni, olives, peppers and other veggies, etc, would all work very well here!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Ry's Ruffery


I have a little secret, it's safe with you right?  Of course it is- this is the internet!  What better place to put one's deepest darkest confessions?

The package has a person on it, so I can have one!
I eat dog food; wait that came out wrong.  I've eaten all of my dogs' food- wait no.  I have tried every different dog food and treat I have ever given to any of my dogs.  Ah, that's better.

Now I'll admit, that some of said products should have been called "feed" (as in for livestock) instead of "food."  And the listed ingredients often included agricultural byproducts and/or mysterious chemicals that would make spelling bee champions cower in fear.

I consider my mutt-face to really be part of the family, not just a critter that the wife lets sleep in my spot.  I wouldn't feed anyone else in my family some part-waste-product-part-science-project substance, why should my dog be any exception?

Ry's Ruffery (formerly Ryan's Barkery) is a company that agrees strongly on this idea.

In fact at the top of their website there is the phrase, "Don’t Feed Your Dog What You Wouldn't Eat Yourself!"

This company began when the founder, a ten year old named Ryan Kelly, decided that his puppy simply deserved a better biscuit than what he could find at the pet store.  So he went around asking veterinarians for their input, testing flavors, and experimenting in the kitchen with his mom; and before too long, his labor of love to make his puppy happy turned into a bustling bakery.

Three flavors and a ball - somepuppy is about to be spoiled!

We received three flavors of these treats: Pumpkin-Apple, Peanut Butter and Cheddar, as well as a logo'd ball to play with. The Cheddar seems to be Gregor's favorite, and mine as well, but he is more than willing to devour each flavor. There were no losers here (except maybe Greg because now Dad is eating his snacks).

In fact, except for the fact that they are a bit more crunchy than my usual fare, I would enjoy these as a snack anyway.  How many dog treats can you say that about?

Greg taking his treat nicely. 
My dog Gregor wasn't much for treats before before Ry'st Ruffery biscuits came, but now the mere crinkling of their packaging will have them sprinting across the house to prove what a good boy he is.

He is also now much more motivated to prove that he knows his tricks when these treats are at the end.

Simply put, Ry's Ruffery makes a delightful handmade dog biscuit that your canine companion will treasure nearly as much as you will have from giving it to them.

They take orders for their treats at their website.  Each 8oz bag of freshly made biscuits costs $9.50 and they offer free shipping if you order all three flavors for $24.99 total.

Bone appetit!

Ry's Ruffery Website
Ry's Ruffery on Facebook
Ry's Ruffery on Twitter

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review/Giveaway: Wet Shave Club Subscription Box


As any man with a face knows, shaving can be a tedious chore. I found it so much trouble that I have had a full beard for several years (which brings its own grooming regimen, but that’s not the point.)  
When I agreed to review the Wet Shave Club’s subscription box, my intention was to use it just to shave those areas of my face not covered by beard. As you will see, the contents of the box changed my mind.

The company offers a monthly subscription box, each one filled with a variety of shaving soaps, razor blades, aftershaves and other face-care products. As a bonus, the first box includes a razor and shaving brush.          

The Wet Shave Club specializes in old-fashioned shaving technology. You won’t find the latest plastic sextuple-blade shaving behemoth here. The included razor is a heavy double-sided safety razor, and the brush is needed to generate a lather from the shaving soaps. (You will have to supply your own mug.)

I was immediately impressed with the quality of the items I found on opening the box. The razor is all metal, solid and attractive. Also in the box: The shaving brush, two 1.5-oz. soaps (Red Leaf), two 5-blade packs of blades (Gillette), a bottle of aftershave made from Bay Rum and witch hazel (Forge & Foundry), and a pack of alum "matches" from The Legends, London.

The Hardware

The razor: This is Wet Shave Club’s own branded razor, which they have made just for them. It features a long, grooved handle to provide a sure grip in wet hands. I found it to be balanced perfectly, feeling natural in the hand and effortless to use.

The brush: Your first box includes a boar brush with a wooden handle, and the club promises to send different brushes as your subscription progresses. Again, the item is well-made, easy and comfortable to use.

The blades: I received two types of blades from Gillette, Silver Blue and 7 O’Clock. Both were effective and comfortable, and the differences between them were subtle. I found the Silver Blue to be slightly smoother on the skin, but shaving not quite as close, at least on first pass. There are many different kinds of safety razor blades, from several manufacturers, and I think finding a personal favorite is certain to be a matter of experimentation. However, of the two in this box, I would pick Silver Blue.

The soaps: Wet Shave Club picked two soaps from Red Leaf: Oatmeal, Milk and Honey, and English Coast—the latter features “herbs, mosses, meadow flowers and the scent of coastal air just after a rain.” I have been using the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey exclusively so far. It smells fresh and slightly sweet, and the lather is rich and luxurious on the skin.

The aftershave: Applying the Forge & Foundry aftershave lotion brings a brisk sting to freshly-shaved skin from the witch hazel, and a pleasant aroma that mixes the bay rum, with its bayberry leaves, and the witch hazel. The sting fades after a minute or two, but the scent stays with you for a while and elicited an 'mmmm!' from my wife.

The alum matches: Intended to soothe razor burn and irritated skin, and to stop the bleeding of minor cuts. The matches work, quite well, but applying them feels a bit strange, like pressing a pinhead on your skin.

Bear in mind that my collection is just the first box, and each subsequent box should bring a variety of new things.

The Process

I had let the whiskers on my neck, under the beard line, grow for a few days before giving the razor its first test. 

Following the included step-by-step instructions (“10 Easy Steps to an Awesome Wet Shave,”) I got ready to take it off.

Step One: Prep the razor. 
Here is where I hit the first snag: Having never used this type of shaver, I had no idea how to load a blade into this thing, and there are no instructions in the box. 

A search of the Wet Shave Club website was fruitless, but I finally found a guide on another site. Including instructions in this first box would be a very welcome addition. At a minimum they should be available on the club’s own site.

Once I got the guidance, though, putting in the blade was easy. You simply unscrew the top from the handle. The top is made of two pieces that separate as soon as it is disconnected from the handle. You slip the blade over the three prongs — do be VERY careful to not cut your fingers while doing this — and reattach everything. As it is recommended to do this every three days (or shaves) to ensure the blade is always sharp, it’s good that it’s not complicated.

I received two five-packs of blades, both made by Gillette. With a change every three days, the 10 blades is about a one-month supply. I found the Silver Blue a bit more comfortable to use, but that is a matter of personal preference. 

The Wet Shave Club sends out a variety of blades each month. It is good to have the opportunity to try out various options as you work your way toward determining your favorites.

The instructions do not say anything about disposing of used blades, but it is best to not put them directly into the trash. 

Even after they are dulled enough to need replacing, they are still quite sharp and could potentially injure sanitation workers or wildlife scavenging in the landfill. Check out this article from Greenopedia for some easy disposal ideas. 

Step Two: Prep the brush. Just put it in a mug of hot water for a few minutes to soften the bristles. While that’s underway, you can do step three.

Step Three: Prep your beard. Basically you want to soften up your stubble. The club recommends a hot shower, which worked well for me.

Step Four: Build a lather. Put one of the shaving soaps in the bottom of a mug and squeeze the excess water out of the brush. Swirl the brush in a circular motion across the soap until lather builds up. Adding a bit more water will make the lather foamier. You will probably need to experiment some to find the right level for your own face.

Now, at this point, because you are about to put blade to skin, you might have noticed an omission in these steps. I will go ahead and fill it in:

Step Four(a): Put the lather on your face. (This is important, so assume it even though it isn’t stated.) Use the brush to spread the lather across the area you plan to shave. It will not be as thick as you might be used to if you normally use canned shaving cream or gel, but it will lubricate just fine.

Step Five: Angle your blade. In order to cut your facial hair, you need to find the angle that puts the edge of the blade in contact with it. The club recommends starting with the handle parallel to the floor and then moving it slowly to point towards the floor while pulling the razor down your face, until you find the angle where the blade is cutting the hair.  This method worked well.

Step Six: Shave. Do not press in, as you have to with a cartridge razor. The weight of the razor and gravity will do the work. Shave with smooth strokes, with the grain.

Step Seven: Rinse your face and get ready to do it again.

Step Eight: Reapply lather and shave again. Assume you will need at least two passes each day, and maybe a third if (like me) you had more than a day’s worth of growth.

Step Nine: Third pass if needed, then rinse with warm water and again with cold water. The second rinse closes your pores.

Step Ten: Apply aftershave. Each month, Wet Shave Club will provide an option or two for after shave care.

How It Went

Because my first trial of these products was on a patch of several days’ growth, even three passes was not quite enough to eradicate it. Also, while cutting a sharp beard line is a challenge under any circumstances (this is why bearded men pay barbers for the occasional reshaping), the safety razor does not allow great precision, at least not in my unpracticed hands.

Obviously, using the things in this box for beard maintenance was not going to be a fair test, so I decided to go clean-shaven.

1. Remove most of beard, 2. After 3 passes. 3. After next morning's shave - fully cleanshaven! No nicks!

First, I used my electric trimmer to get rid of as much growth as possible, getting it down to the equivalent of a day or two’s worth of stubble. 

Then I returned to the step-by-step guide, giving myself three passes and a little extra attention on the hairs right beneath my nose, which are both coarse and hard to reach with the blade.

By the end of three passes, I had a little remaining stubble but had gotten almost all of it. 

The next morning, I gave it two more passes and emerged fresh and clean. Since then, I’ve kept it up and a plan to for a while. After the first two days, I've found that a single pass is often enough, but I usually do two.

The alum matches serve the same purpose as a styptic pencil, in a more portable form. If you get a nick, wet the head of one and rub it over the cut a couple of times; the bleeding will usually stop immediately. You can also use them to soothe irritated skin after a shave. I have given myself a minor cut or two and the matches work perfectly.

This has been a new shaving experience for me. In the past I’ve always used either triple-bladed hand razors or electric shavers, and never been happy with the results. This safety razor and its single-edged blade gave me a better, and much more comfortable, shave than anything else I’ve ever used. 

As an added bonus, the process takes a bit more time than most shaving methods, and requires a few steps to be followed, so it creates a small personal ritual and a meditative space, a nice daily touchpoint in this chaotic world.

The Details

The Wet Shave Club offers its monthly subscription box at four different prices, depending on the length of the subscription: It is $29 for one month: $24 a month for three months; $22 per month for six months, and; $19 a month for a year. Gift subscriptions are available, and shipping is free within the continental U.S.

The high quality razor and shaving brush alone make it worthwhile to get at least one box. The promise of a monthly assortment of products to try, including soaps, aftershaves and more brushes, for just $19 a month with a one-year subscription is pretty enticing too. The Wet Shave Club selects products of high quality that should appeal to any man who wants to pay attention to good grooming.  
Wet Shave Club Website
Wet Shave Club on Facebook

The Wet Shave Club is providing a 10 percent discount to our readers. Just enter RCH10 as a discount code during the checkout process. 

They are also offering one box to our readers as a giveaway, featuring the products involved in this review.  This giveaway is for US residents and will end just before midnight ET on November 6.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This lets us contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

Good luck, everyone!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Foraged Mushrooms)

“Eww…what’s that??”

Uh oh. This was going to be a hard sell.

Let me preface with this: one of my hobbies is hunting wild mushrooms. Well, I suppose it’s less of a hunt and more of a gather. 

This is considered somewhat of a weird hobby to most Americans, but according to the residents of the little Appalachian town in which I live, obtaining at least half of your food from the forest is not at all an uncommon practice. 

There is free food outside, people! It’s all over the place! You just have to know what the edible stuff looks like and you can eat it. It’s amazing.

My boyfriend, however, is like most Americans when it comes to mushrooms--though to his credit, he has come to politely tolerate my hobby. 

He can successfully identify the grocery-store varieties, but remains suspicious of my outdoor finds.

I plop a 4-pound bag of flabby orange fungus down on the kitchen counter. “Dinner!” I said.  

People are scared of wild mushrooms, because they don't know enough about them to safely identify them. They see one and think that if they eat it, they will probably die, or at very least, it’s gonna be nasty. But plenty of those exotic gourmet mushrooms you hear about at expensive restaurants or occasionally glimpse at the farmer’s market or fancy section of the grocery store are, in fact, (gasp!) wild. As in, came from outside. In the woods. Picked by someone wandering around with a basket and possibly (seriously) a trained sniffer-pig.  And you may have already eaten one…without even knowing it! (DUN dun…DUUUNNNN!!!!)

The reason for this is because many delicious gourmet mushrooms can’t be effectively cultivated. Some have what is known in mushroom nerd-language as a “mycorrhizal association” with specific trees—essentially a symbiotic relationship with the tree’s root system. 

Some are parasitic and must squeeze the last living breath from their host tree and feast on its remains in order to recycle it into sweet, sweet deliciousness for your dining pleasure. 

Many are waaay too much of a production to cultivate yet plentiful enough in nature that buying them from the dude with the basket is much more plausible, practical, and cost-effective. The good news is that you too can get your own delicious wild gourmet mushrooms, with no cost to you!

Meet the Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushroom (that’s Laetiporus sulphureus to you, bub). 

This is the best noob-mushroom ever, because it’s practically unmistakable and has no poisonous look-alikes.* 

It’s big, bright freakin’ orange with yellow or sometimes white pores (rather than gills) on the underside, and grows in huge shelf-like stacks on hardwood (almost always oak) trees in Eastern North America in the fall. 

You can usually see it from halfway across the woods, because its size and color make it really difficult to miss. 

It’s called “Chicken-of-the-Woods” because it tastes like…you guessed it…chicken. It’s got a meaty texture and even the “stringiness” of chicken breast. You can pretty much cook it in any manner that you can cook chicken. And like chicken breast, it’s a bit bland and needs a little seasoning.  It has officially become the BF’s new favorite mushroom. Success!

*On the Western portion of the continent and in the Great Lakes region, there are other types of “Chicken-of-the-Woods” that grow on conifers and eucalyptus trees. These have been associated with sometimes causing gastric upset (as in, unpleasant amounts of time spent in the bathroom hugging the bowl) in sensitive people, especially when consumed raw or undercooked. It’s uncertain why; most people eat it with impunity. 

Only eat young, tender, brightly colored Chicken-of-the-Woods, and cook your mushrooms thoroughly. Trying a small amount at first to see if it agrees with you before scarfing a huge plateful is always wise practice when it comes to any foraging, especially for mushrooms

So today, we’re making vegetarian Chicken-of-the-Woods Thai Green Curry.  

Chicken-Of-The-Woods Thai Green Curry

For two generous servings, you need:

Mmm…mysterious greenish paste...
2 c sliced Chicken-of-the-Woods mushrooms
2 c sliced mixed stir-fry vegetables of your choice (bell peppers, broccoli, onions, etc.)
2-4 tbsp of Thai green curry paste (look in the “international” aisle)
1 15 oz. can of coconut milk
1 green chili, minced (adjust to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Cooking oil or butter for frying
Vegetable or chicken broth for deglazing the pan
Chopped Thai basil, if desired
Salt & pepper to taste
2 c hot cooked rice

1. Sauté the mushrooms in butter or oil until browned. Don’t overdo it on the grease; this mushroom will suck it up readily like a sponge. Deglaze the pan with broth and set aside.

2. Saute the vegetables in butter or oil until crisp-tender.

3. Add chili, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

4. Add the curry paste and lime juice and stir to coat.  

5. Stir in coconut milk thoroughly. Add cilantro and Thai basil and simmer for 5 minutes. Correct the seasoning. Add the “chicken” back to the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes more, until hot. Serve over hot cooked rice. Done!

Enjoy this delicious meal, and the well-earned sense of satisfaction that comes from sucessfully foraging for your own dinner!

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