• 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs. (or breasts if you like it lean and dull)
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp paprika
• 8oz. mixed mushrooms, I’m using crimini and shiitake
• 1 onion, diced small
• 1 red pepper, diced medium
• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 3 celary stocks, diced small
• 4-6 garlic cloves, minced (or sliced paper thin with truffle shaver)
• 1 pint chicken stock
• Half bottle of dry red wine
• 6 oz. can tomato paste
• 1 cup (or half pound) fresh grape or cherry tomatoes
•Assorted herbs: Parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme. About a teaspon each, minced. (I am using a rosemary branch from the bush in my front yard).
• Olive oil
• 1/2 stick of salted butter
• 1 tbsp balsamic (or a squeeze of lemon)
• Salt to taste
Marinate the chicken in one cup of your dry red wine for at least an hour or overnight. Remember to save that wine marinade when you start cooking. It will go into the braise.
Place the flour in a wide bowl and mix in the paprika and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Using a very large saute pan or dutch oven, brown the chicken on high heat until golden. Take the chicken out and set aside.
Add a quarter stick of butter to that pan and then saute the onions, carrots, peppers, and celery for about 10-15 min. Half way through add your minced herbs and garlic
In another pan, saute the mushrooms in the other quarter stick of butter and saute until they express their liquid and turn golden brown. I do the mushrooms seperate from the other veggies specifically so they will get golden. I may splash in a little red wine or sweet vermouth with the shrooms too just for shits and giggles.
Deglaze the mushroom pan with red wine, scraping up all the scraps. Combine all the veggies and mushrooms into your larger pot. Add in the rest of your wine and scrape the bottom to get all the crispy goodies loose. Place the chicken into the pot on the bottom, under all the veggies. Add the grape tomates and the rosmary branch. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer for an hour.
Remove the chicken and set aside while you finish the sauce.
Mix in the tomato paste to thicken it so it sticks to the pasta. Add your acidity to taste. A tbsp of balsamic adds both sweet and acidity. Lemon is way more acidic. Don’t go crazy with the lemon juice. Just a sqeeze.
You can add the chicken back in if you wish or just serve up the meal.
Place a hunk of chicken over the cooked pasta of your choice (I use angle hair), and then spoon the sauce over it. Cover in parmesean. Garnish with fresh basil.
Eat that shit, ya jaggoff!
The Kale Salad at The Eagle in Indianapolis is just about the best I have ever had. This is my attempt to recreate it.
- 2 bunches Kale. Tuscan or Dinasaur kale prefered. Washed with the center stem removed.
- 1/4 cup bourbon soaked raisins. Dried cranberries, or any dried fruit, would prolly work too. (recipe below)
- 1 julienned granny smith apple (core removed)
- 3-4 oz graded sharp white cheddar cheese
- Maple cider vinaigrette (recipe below)
- Cornbread croutons
- 1/4 cup diced red onion. Optional. (My idea. Not in The Eagle’s recipe)
Bourbon Soaked Raisins
You’ll want to do this in advance to get them properly bourbon-soaked. If you don’t want to deal with bourbon or you are in a rush, normal raisins will do. I think dried cranberries or apricots would be delish as well. I’m using some old-ass dried cranberries that are so old you can barely chew them. Perfect for a good overnight whiskey soak.
Place your raisins, or whatever, in a mason jar. Top them with bourbon, screw that lid on good, and let them sit overnight. A few hours minimum is fine if you are in a rush. Or you can soak several quarts of them them for a month to use as needed. The bourbon will preserve them for years, but they might turn to goop after a while. You’ll need to figure that shit out for yourself. You can do this with any dried fruit and any alcohol. Rum and brandy are great as well.
Be sure your vinaigrette is made before you prep the kale. This will enough for 6-8 salad servings. Save the left over dressing in a bottle and keep it in the fridge for later.
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
• 2 mashed garlic cloves (Mash into a paste)
• 2 tsp dijon mustard
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Wash the kale and remove the thick center stem. Chop into hunks that will fit into a normal human mouth. Place in a bowl and drizzle in some of your vinaigrette. Massage the kale with your hands. No need to go to town on ’em. The kale doesn’t need a good rogering. This is massaged kale, not Happy Ending kale. You want the oils, salts, and acids to soften the kale so it’s more lettuce like and less like eating mulch or wicker. Feel free to smack the kale around, but please get consent first! And use a safe word, like ARUGULA!
Granny Smith Apples
While the kale recovers from your molestation, take the core out of a granny smith apple and cut it into either matchsticks or thin slices. I cut the apple in half, use a truffle shaver for the thin slices, and then cut it down further with a knife. I don’t peel apples just like I don’t peel potatoes. It’s a waste of food.
I am pretty lazy and doubt I will be making cornbread croutons just for this dish. Buy croutons at the store or skip them if you want to avoid carbs. Otherwise, croutons are easy to make. Cut up your bread/cornbread into cubes. Spray with oil. Put in the oven at 400°F and bake until they are dry and crunchy. Easy peasy.
Batch of old cornbread / bread / french loaf / etc
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut leftover or day-old bread/cornbread into cubes, any size. Place cubes on a baking sheet.
Drizzle/spray with olive oil and toss lightly to coat.
Sprinkle with of salt and pepper to taste.
Toast in oven until sides are a dark brown, about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during baking.
I love cheddar. Use the sharpest cheddar you can find. Hard, sharp cheeses are intense in flavor. You don’t really need much to punch up a salad like this. You can use is sparingly the way you would use Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or shred the cheddar into large hunks and add enough to make your arm go numb. I think you get it up to restaurant quality by drowning it in dressing and going ape shit with the cheese.
Combine the kale, onion, raisins (or cranberrries), cheese, and apples in a bowl and mix in the dressing. I will let you decide if you want it floating in dressing or not, but be generous. Toss your salad. Be sure to stretch first or you might injure your neck or back. It’s always safer to have someone else toss your salad.
Add more dressing as needed. It should be well coated but you should not have a puddle of dressing at the bottom of the bowl.
Serve the salad and top with the croutons. Eat that shit, yo! And enjoy your nice superfood dump tomorrow.
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters
- 1 cup roasted red bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or a mix)
- 1 cucumber, cubed
- 1 red onion, diced into medium chunks
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbles or chunks
- Half cup Balsamic vinaigrette
- Half oz fresh basil leaves, minced (about 10-20 large leaves)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
I often go to casinos for work and have my food comped. It makes sense for them to comp my food, otherwise I charge it to my corporate card and we bill it back to them. Comping my food means they can feed us at cost rather than retail. They use the same comp system that they use for gamblers. They don’t track what you had or when. It’s just a “comp”.
Usually when I check in they inform me of my comps and explain the restrictions. Typically they comp food only, no alcohol, and you can eat anywhere except their big steakhouse or fancy-pants restaurant. The restriction is imposed through the point of sale machines at each restaurant.
Most every casino/resort has a lounge or bar that serves food and they always comp the bar food because it is cheap. These bars almost always let you order a steak from their big steakhouse if you ask. When they ring it up at the bar instead of at the steakhouse it is flagged as a comped meal.
The second trick is to charge all the alcohol to your room and pay with the company card. The hotel bill only shows the amount and that it was from a restaurant. I then expense this as dinner. They still bill it to the client; the client can’t dictate where we eat. The expense billings we send them are huge and involve hundreds of employees. They just pay.
Food comped. Alcohol expensed.
Doing stand up comedy in the beginning is strangely terrifying. Nothing is going to hurt you up there, but when you’re doing poorly the crowd feels your fear and they seem to amplify it with their reaction. They get uncomfortable and that makes you more self conscious about bombing. It can take years for comic to reach that point where they stop caring about bombing. It’s like learning to ski or ice skate. You have to fall down in order to get over your fear of falling down.
On Sunday, July 10th, my improv troupe The Sandbox Association performed during half time for the NBA Summer League Game at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. There were at least 2000 rabid NBA fans there. Of the six people in our improv troupe, only three of us could be there. We did a game called “Sports Center.” This is how we described it on our website (seen in the screenshot above):
“The Sandbox asked for a simple everyday household activity and one basketball fan yelled ‘mopping’, and with the help of another audience volunteer the crowd witnessed the mock Olympic mopping competition narrated by none other than Sandbox newscasters.”
Many comedians I know remember the moment when they stopped being afraid to bomb. It’s usually a heckler they remember or some set when they did really well. For me it was this NBA halftime show. This was the single most brutal incident I’ve ever experienced performing in front of people going all the way back to doing stand up for the first time as a freshman in high school.
The fake “mopping” competition started and I went to TOWN, Jack! I was all over that floor like a spastic. The kid who volunteered to “compete” against me looked at me as if I was insane and quickly walked off. The crowd did not just boo us, they were ANGRY booing. They got up in droves and fled to the concession stands. “YOU SUCK!!!
In my mind I was glad they were upset. I wanted to perform harder to make them even more angry at me. It was a turning point in my life. That was the moment I stopped looking for validation from other people. Being on stage no longer frightened me. Speeches, presentation, comedy, acting, playing music, doing anything before an audience does not phase me anymore. I don’t care how large the crowd or how unprepared I am. That event made me fearless.
The organizer of the event apologized and paid us. We left a bit shaken and glad it was over. My two troupe mates said to me, “Wow you really committed to that.” And I said, “Yeah, the harder they booed me the more I gave.” They asked why. Why perform harder for people being that rude?
“Because, “ I said.
“Fuck ‘em! I hope I ruined their whole goddamn week.”
In recent months, potential good fortune presented itself to Misty and me. Shortly after I left my job I immediately had interviews with Kronos, an HR systems company, for a fantastic pre-sales solutions consultant position. It had great pay, it was work from home, great place to work, and exactly the kind of job I want. I aced my interviews. They flew me to Indianapolis for the final test: an in-person presentation to the pre-sales team, which I nailed.
After eight years of seeing a neurologist for chronic daily headaches, Misty’s doc wanted her to have a lumbar puncture, a spinal tap. She was in a car wreck decades ago. Whiplash can wreak havoc on the skeleton. A previous MRI showed that Misty has bone spurs, disc problems, and a small syringomyelia in her spine. All of these things can cause problems with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). If low pressure was measured during a lumbar puncture it would be a clear sign of a CSF leak. She has all the symptoms of spinal fluid hypotension. We were very excited because if confirmed, a CSF leak is curable. She’d finally have an end to her headaches.
On March 28 I arrived home from Indianapolis fully confident I would get that job. I’ve never had a job interview go better. The hiring manager seemed proud of me. She gave me advice after the virtual presentation I gave her the week prior. My improved presentation impressed her. The people in my final interview gave me nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback and they acted as if we’d all see each other again. I left Indianapolis feeling on top of the world, convinced I was about to get a fabulous new job with a large jump in pay. I was so confident that I stopped at Total Wine and Spirits on the way home, hours before Misty got off work, and dropped over $200 for a vintage bottle of 2002 Pol Roger Winston Churchill champagne.
I tasted the non vintage Pol Roger at a Vino Volo shop at the Portland airport and was completely blown away by how gorgeous it tasted as the waitress informed me that it was Churchill’s favorite champagne. To be honest, the bottle was $240 but I had a 20% off coupon for Easter. It would have been crazy NOT to buy it with that kind of savings!!! I am not one to be overly optimistic as I usually prepare for the worst. Standing in that wine shop with that expensive champagne, I heard that little voice in my head tell me not to count my chickens until they are hatched. I told that voice to piss off. I got home before Misty got off work and I hid the bottle with the plan to surprise her once I had the job offer in hand.
Today I drove Misty to get her lumbar puncture. She had been worried about how much it would hurt and thankfully she said it wasn’t bad. After her procedure she came out into the waiting room with her eyes floating and shaking her head. “Nope. Normal pressure.”
She cried off and on for a few hours feeling that this was the last chance to fix her headaches. I did research and found that normal CSF pressure does not rule out a CSF leak. They drew CS fluid and will test it for further signs of a leak like white blood cells, proteins, and some other things. This is not over, but today Misty felt defeated, hopeless.
This is common knowledge by now but I did not get that job at Kronos. I felt like a schmuck for spending $200 on a bottle of champagne before I got the news. I kept it hidden, figuring I would hold it for when I do finally get a job. Last night, on the eve of Misty’s lumbar puncture, I decided to surprise Misty and pop that bottle of Pol Roger in the event that she came back positive for a CSF leak. We got back from her test with the reality of normal CSF pressure. I already mentioned that her results so far do not rule out a CSF leak, but it’s discouraging. Low pressure would have been conclusive today and a great reason to celebrate, knowing her headaches will be cured soon.
I try to stay in the moment in life and I try to remain in a good mood but I anticipate the worst so I am not disappointed. Optimism can really set you up for horrible disappointment. It’s hard to remain positive, yet practical, and be persistent in spite of many let downs. This is especially the case with Misty who has endured more than eight years of constant daily headaches with no end in sight. That is why I am generally pessimistic about things. Yet, for some reason I went in the opposite direction with my Kronos interview and with Misty’s lumbar puncture. I threw caution to the wind and splurged on an expensive indulgence. After so many disappointments , that champagne remained in my house having outlived its original objective.
After we got home today, Misty asked me to please stop talking about CSF leaks and just let her watch TV while she recovers from the back pain caused by this procedure. She will push forward and keep seeking answers on her head pain, but today she earned the right to be in a bad mood. Meanwhile, I’ve been looking for work in the best job market in 18 years and nobody is calling me. I’m frustrated and time is running out for me, financially.
A few hours ago I went into our wine fridge and pulled out the bottle of Pol Roger that Misty didn’t know was there.
“I bought this right after my final Kronos interview. When I didn’t get that, I figured we would have it when I got some other job. Last night I decided I would surprise you today once you tested positive for low CSF pressure. This bottle was supposed to be for a celebration, but I think we should drink it tonight.”
“Because. Fuck ‘em!”
“No, we should save a champagne like this for a special occasion, like your birthday! Or when you get a job.”
“No. Let’s have it tonight. Carpe diem, rock out with your cock out, YOLO, and all that other bullshit. Good champagne doesn’t need a special occasion. It just needs to be chilled. If you need a reason to celebrate then we’ll toast to each other and then toast to the puppyheads.”
“I love you.”
(Solo: A Star Wars Story. In theaters May 25!)
- 2lb bonless chicken thighs. If there is any skin, leave it on.
- 3 large garlic cloves , minced
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more depending on heat preference
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cardamon (if you have it)
- Juice of two fresh lemons
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1/4 cup of chopped italian parsley, cliantro, or a mix of the two.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- (OPTIONAL) One large heaping tablespoon of plain yogurt. I use a good, sour greek or mid eastern yogurt. The kind that is so sour that the hair on your ass curls up and falls off.
Combine everything into a ziplock bag or sealable container. Make sure all the goop is distributed all over the chicken. Let it marinate overnight.
Grill, broil, BBQ, or cook in a pan. Slice it up and eat that shit on a pita with yogurt shmutz, hummus, and other mid-eastern things and whatnots. Play Arabic music, strip naked, and do jihad on your genitals.
- Half pound of dried spaghetti
- 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (a quarter stick)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- half cup pecorino*
- half cup Parmigiano-Reggiano*
*Using a full cup of pecorino-romano and no Parmesan is most traditional. I like to do a blend. Pecorino-Romano is made with sheeps milk and can be a bit gamey to most people. You are welcome to use parmesan cheese only if you wish. But buy a hunk of cheese and grate it yourself. The pre-grated Kraft in a can bullshit has anti-caking agents in it and will ruin your sauce.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoons salt. Cook the pasta al dente. Save a cup of the startchy pasta water before straining the pasta out.
Add the freshly ground black to a large sauté pan set over medium heat and toast until fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add a half cup of pasta water to the pan, then add the cold butter and olive oil and bring to a simmer. Swirl the sauce regularly so that the olive oil and butter combine.
Add the pasta to the pan and toss to combine with the sauce. On low heat add the cheese slowly while tossing or stirring so that the cheese melts evenly and makes a sauce with the water/butter/oil. Add more pasta water if needed to adjust the sauce to the right consistency.
The Pecorino region of Italy makes wonderful white wines that pair perfectly with this dish. In the photo below I served my cacio e pepe with a Pecorino white, oven baked halibut, and my caesar salad.
This is one of our regular healthy meals. It is flavorful, relativly low carb, high in protein, and we make it without meat. You can make more decadent with a few changes (noted in parentheses).
- 1 can refried beans
- 1 can black beans or kidney beans (or cooked ground beef)
- 1 onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil (or butter)
- 1 pint of enchilada sauce
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (or rice)
- 1 package of Mission Carb Balance “soft taco” tortillas (or standard tortillas, flour or corn)
- OPTIONAL – 16 oz of shredded hard cheese. We use a supermarket “Fiesta blend” or a pepperjack. Skip the cheese if you are counting calories
In a big pot, sauté the onions and bell pepper until tender. I let it sauté 5-10 min and brown a bit. Mix in everything except the refried beans, tortillas, and cheese. Simmer the MIX until it is no longer soupy. Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Heat the refried beans on the stove or microwave and blend in half cup of water to make the beans easier to spread. Make a single layer of tortillas on the bottom of a large casserole dish. I cut them in half or qurters to fill the space more efficiently. Spread all the refried beans on top of the tortilla layer. Spread half the MIX on top of the refried bean later. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the first MIX layer. Add a second layer of tortillas. Spread the rest of the MIX on top of the last tortilla layer. Top the entire casserole with the rest of the shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the inside is hot. All the ingredients should have been pre-cooked there is no required temperature to hit.
It’s layered kinda like a lasagne but with the flavors of an enchilada. The name is something I made up. It is pronounced “lasagne” but I spelled it in Spanish syntax since it’s Mexican food-inspired.
A pint of hummus at Whole Foods costs $7. It barely cost them a buck to make it. I make my own not just to save money but I can control the fat calories.This is my reduced calorie hummus. If you want it to taste more decadent, double the amount of oil and tahini used and reduce the water accordingly.
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 tbsp tahini (See below to make it at home. It’s really easy)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp of water
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- OPTIONAL – 2-4 roasted garlic cloves. If you don’t want to roast the garlic, mince it, mix with with the olive oil, and microwave for a minute.
- OPTIONAL – 1/2 tsp berbere spice. This is an ethiopian spice mix. If you put this in your hummus it won’t taste like the traditional hummus I ate with my mid-eastern family. I add it to my hummus for some next-level shit. It’s amazing.
Blend for several minutes in food processor until it is a smooth paste. Refridgerate. Smear on stuff. Rub it on your ass, I don’t care. Try to comsume it within a week. By week two it starts to smell like Yasser Arafat’s dirty gooch after a long flight to Oslo to negotiate with Shimon Perez.
I soak and pressure cook an entire 1 lb bag of dried chickpeas on a weekend, use what I need for hummus, and freeze the rest for other batches. It’s far cheaper than even the cheapest canned chickpeas. But go ahead and ignore me, especially if you love it in the can. (Ba doomp boomp TSSSS)
What’s that? You don’t want to buy tahini? Good! Stores overcharge for tahini. Take one cup of sesame seeds, toast them in a pan for 5 min, and then run them in a food processor with 3 tbsp olive oil until it forms a gooey paste. Put it in an air-tight jar and it will keep for months in the fridge like peanutbutter.