MATT'S BEER WE GO! SLAVUTICH PREMIUM LAGER BEER

I don't know about you dear reader, but when I have trouble deciphering the language on the front of the can, or any product, I'm somewhat hesitant in buying said product. This is obviously a stupid bias or hesitation on my part: obviously people in whichever part of the world in which this language is spoken/written (in this case, Ukraine) would NOT be drinking poisonous beer, so it's obviously fine!

Still, there's that part of me that wonders: "Gee, what do they like to drink in THEIR part of the world? Are their tastes wildly different?"


Well, only one way to find out!



*GULP GULP GULP!* (Sounds of drinking, not nervousness.)

But we have to examine the colour and nose, and all that rot before proceeding to taste! Ah, yes, the colour. Ah yes, the actual beer. Admission: I accidentally deleted the actual beer photo. Stupid? Yes. You will just have to take my word for my description (or go out and buy your own damn can and find out yourself!).

Being a lager, this one pours a very nice rich yellow hue, much like the gold surrounding the logo on the can.

The nose is of fruity grains, a little hoppy too, with some sweet, good, beery freshness. Very delightful indeed!

The taste however is one that you really do need to examine and find out for yourself. It is really unlike any beer I've had, and I've been around the beer block somewhat. It is dry, hoppy, not too strong (despite being over 5% booze factor), and had some bitterness.

Slavutich is medium bodied, not too heavy, and is not a clean tasting beer either. It is hard to describe, hence my constant descriptors!! It's a little firm, not soft or easy to drink; "not wimpy" I so subtly noted. (Note: my friends at LCBO.com disagree completely with my assessment. So. Yeah.)

And, even odder, there wasn't much of an aftertaste...it didn't really fade off into different flavours, it kinda just stuck around, lingering quite a bit!

Well then! Who'd have thunk it? My weariness was swiftly turned into wonder and thoughts of, "Gee whiz, this is interesting," and, "Gosh, this is different!" At a price friendly cost per can, this one isn't a knock out, or one I'd be downing can after can of, but it's worth trying just for a unique beer experience!


**1/2 out of 4

Purchased from a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.25 (US$2.10).

From LCBO.com:

SLAVUTICH, 500 mL can
LCBO #43208

Beer, Lager
5.3% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 3
Made in: Ukraine
By: Jsc Slavutych Brewery
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SPINACH & BREAD STUFFED CHEESY TOMATOE BAKE

After making a delicious sandwich the day before, I was left with plenty of leftover baguette that I didn't want to go to waste. I also happened to have plenty of tomatoes on hand as well. I knew whatever side dish I choose to make had to involve both bread and tomato; then it hit me...why not make stuffed tomatoes? I peeked in the fridge again and again and again and saw the bag of baby spinach. I knew I had something there. I took out the food processor and mixed some of the ingredients together and presto I had a delicous stuffing for the tomatoes. I paired these stuffed tomatoes with a seared fish and I instantly became a star at the dinner table. This is a side dish that I'll be sure to make again and again.

Makes 6 stuffed tomatoes

Baking time: 25 minutes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut in half
  • half a French baguette (day old), cut into large cubes
  • two large handfuls of spinach (or half a small pkg)
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 2 small garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup havarti cheese, grated (or whatever cheese you like)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut 3 large tomatoes in half, and using a spoon take the seeds out of the tomatoes. You want to make sure that the stuffing mixture doesn't get watered down too much. Place the tomato halves on the prepared baking sheet.

2. In a food processor, put in the cubed baguette, spinach, mushrooms and grated garlic. Pulse the mixture a few times or until the bread and spinach have started to break down. Add in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pulse it 2-3 times, then drizzle in a little olive oil and pulse it again 2-3 times. Stuff each tomato half with the mixture, making sure to pack it in. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese and drizzle the tomatoes with a bit more olive oil. Place it in the oven to bake for a good 23-25 minutes. Serve immediately along side any grilled seafood or meat.

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TORTILLA QUICHE PIZZA

I love making quiche and who doesn't like eating it? But honestly, who has the time or the patience to make the crust on any given day? I certainly don't so I came up with what I think is quite clever....a tortilla quiche pizza. I kid you not! It has the best of both worlds - eggy quiche and pizza. You can add whatever veggies you like into the egg mixture and use whatever kind of tortilla you like for the "crust" portion of this recipe. You can eat this warm or eat it cold and it really doesn't change the flavour all the much. Give this different kind of quiche a try! It's a real looker!

Makes 4 portions

Baking time: 23-25 minutes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 large tortillas, cut to fit into pie shell
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped finely
  • half a red bell pepper, diced
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 small can of pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (or more if needed)
  • small handful of chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a pie shell with parchment paper. This is an important step to ensure that the tortillas don't stick to the bottom of the pie shell while baking. Fit the tortilla pieces all around the pie shell, making sure that there is enough tortilla pieces to double layer the shell.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together until the egg is fluffy. Then add in the onion, diced bell pepper, parsley, and the diced zucchini into the egg mixture. Pour the egg-veggie mixture into the prepared pie shell and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes or until the egg is about to set.

3. Then take it out of the oven, spoon over the pizza sauce, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and place it back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the egg has set, and the cheese is nicely melted. Take it immediately out of the oven and sprinkle the fresh basil. Cool for 5 minutes, slice into portions and serve with a nice side salad.

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MATT'S WINE NOT! HUNGAROVIN DEBROI CUVEE HUNGARIAN WHITE WINE

Yes, Hungarian white wine. Who would've thunk it? Well, the Hungarians, obviously!

Wine is an art mastered the world across, and our friends in Hungary are no exception. And, this very price friendly white wine (under C$/US$10.00) with a picturesque house which I can't afford on the label, should prove not only wallet friendly, but taste friendly too (how many times can I use "friendly" in one sentence?).

It's been a while dear reader, so let's get to it!

Coming with a very funkyish fakeo cork (why it's funky is beyond me really, it's kinda a rubber almost? Sure, that works...), this wine is nearly transparent in the light! but in actuality does give off a very slight yellowish hue.

Taking a deep whiff, one gets a delightful light and appley scent, which isn't too strong, but is certainly fresh, and a little bright; quite inviting.

Tasters, this is a dryish, light to medium bodied white, which is crisp, fresh, and has a little snappiness and zing! Me likes zing. It is easy to drink, has a slight sourness, and has notes of apple and light citrus/grapefruit. With a light alcohol content as well (relative to other wines, and even most whites), this wine also features a fairly clean finish on the well, finish.

Some of the most delightful wines I find are those which are very cost friendly (oops) but pack a delightful taste in the midst of all of its money saving goodness, and this one certainly fit the bill perfectly. Pick up a bottle and enjoy it today. TODAY!!!!!! Okay, tomorrow will suffice too.

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) for C$7.95 (US$7.81).

From LCBO.com:

HUNGAROVIN DEBROI CUVEE, 750 mL bottle
LCBO #536268
Wine, White Wine
11.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: Hungary
By: Torley Pezsgopinceszet Kft
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EASY TURKEY SAUSAGE & SALSA MAC AND CHEESE

Now I know that recently I posted an easy macaroni and cheese recipe on the blog but I really couldn't resist doing another one. With a basic recipe like mac and cheese there are just so many variations on this family favourite. My recipe however, takes a bit of help from the store to make weeknight meal time even faster. The salsa in this mac and cheese really brings out the flavour
in the sauce. The sauce has not only a tomato based flavour but also has a bit of kick and zing, all of which I love! The kale and the turkey sausage help to really make this a substantial meal. Give this weeknight winner a try!

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Baking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb penne or any tubed shaped pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 turkey sausages, out of the casings
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1 can (284 ml) condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • half a can of 2% or whole milk
  • 3/4 cup of mild or hot chunky salsa
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-1/2 cup tortilla chips, smashed to coarse crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly grease a medium sized casserole dish. Cook the penne pasta until al dente (follow package instructions). Heat oil in a large deep skillet, on medium high heat, and saute the onions and the turkey sausage; making sure to break up the sausage using your wooden spoon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

2. After 2 minutes, add in the chopped kale and saute until it starts to wilt down. Bring the heat down to medium. Then add in the condensed cheddar cheese soup, half a can of milk, 3/4 cup of salsa and the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until the sauce comes together and starts to bubble. Add in the halved cherry tomatoes and cook them only for a minute, add in the cooked penne and stir until all of the pasta has been coated with the sauce.

3. Take it off the heat and pour it into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the smashed tortilla chips on top of the mac and cheese, then place it into the oven to bake for a good 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm. I recommend serving this with a light salad on the side.

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EASY HOMEMADE PIZZA

We all buy the frozen or takeout pizza now and then, and for some people it's even become a weekly lunch or dinner. I have to say that I'm guilty for doing this now and then as well, but when I found out a year ago that my local grocery store sold fresh pizza dough I was extremely excited. If I can make quick great tasting pizzas at home without fussing with yeast just to make the dough I am all for it! I have made this recipe enough times to know what works and what doesn't, but of course you can make this to fit your taste. This pizza is my no-fail recipe that is sure to please every one in your family!

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Baking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg of fresh pizza dough (or whole wheat pizza dough)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar of homemade or pre-made pizza sauce
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • half of a green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 large tomato, cut in half then sliced thin
  • pepperoni slices or cubed ham
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • small handful of fresh basil, sliced thin

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a large baking pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Sprinkle a small handful of cornmeal to help create a crunchy bottom crust (optional). Take out the dough and roll it out to fit the prepared baking pan, then place it onto the baking pan to fit.

2. Drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil all over the dough, then spread around 1/2 cup or more of the pizza sauce, and sprinkle a pinch of hot chili flakes. Layer the green pepper slices, tomato slices, pepperoni or ham, and the mushrooms all over the pizza. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Then dollop a bit of sauce all over the pizza. The more sauce the more flavour the pizza will have.

3. Using your clean fingers, lightly mix in the cheese with the other ingredients so when the pizza bakes you won't only see the cheese. Freshly crack some black pepper over top, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and place it in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. You will know when it is ready when the cheese has nicely melted over, and the dough looks crisp and fluffy. When the pizza is ready take it out of the oven and sprinkle the fresh basil over top. Cut into desired pieces and serve immediately.

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