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Brown Beers

Jason and I have been sampling a lot of brown beers lately and I figured I’d share some of our findings because hey maybe you like brown beers, too.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a beer connoisseur. Until I was about 25, the only beer I drank was Miller Lite. But having a husb who likes good beer has opened my eyes. I know what tastes I like and so does Jason so I pretty much just drink whatever he suggests and drinks. Anyways, on to our brown beer findings.

Bell’s Best Brown Ale. Yep, named appropriately because it’s definitely the best. However after visiting several stores trying to procure more, I recently learned that this beer is a limited edition and now it’s out of season. I plan on stocking up next year when this comes out. So delish. It’s very smooth with no weird after tastes.

Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale. This is a very close second runner up. Since we can’t get the Bell’s these days, this is our go-to. It’s not the cheapest beer on the block, but you get what you pay for. Same reason why I was a Miller Lite over Natty Lite girl. I’m all about quality.

Avery Brewery Ellie Brown Ale. Not gonna lie… I bought this because Cole’s (my chocolate lab) picture* is on the front. It’s drinkable but VERY sweet. Good but not great.

Four in Hand Nut Brown Ale. This picture came from the Whole Foods website so you can thank them for the nice, descriptive drawings around it. I drank this beer because I paid for it but it was my least favorite. It has a very strong and weird aftertaste which I learned from Jason is a hoppy taste. Too hoppy = weird and not good. (but it might be good if you have some of that alpha beta delta cheese because… cheese. duh.)

And those are the noteworthy ones. We’ve had some others but they were forgettable. If you like brown beer, just go with the Samuel Smith and you’ll be ok.

This has been a post about beer. Is there a brown beer (or ale I guess is the correct term) I/we need to know about.

*That’s not actually MY dog.

Creamy Cashew Chicken Soup with Kale
Do yourself a favor and make this recipe. I made a big batch this past weekend and have been eating it every day for lunch and am already sad for tomorrow when I’ll have my last bowl.
DO NOT skimp on the fresh ginger
DO save yourself time and just shred up a rotisserie chicken from the store.
DO skip the squash. As least I did because yuck. #squashhater
Thank me later.
Oh, and double the recipe if you plan to eat a ginormous bowl of it every day for lunch for a week straight.

Creamy Cashew Chicken Soup with Kale


Do yourself a favor and make this recipe. I made a big batch this past weekend and have been eating it every day for lunch and am already sad for tomorrow when I’ll have my last bowl.

DO NOT skimp on the fresh ginger

DO save yourself time and just shred up a rotisserie chicken from the store.

DO skip the squash. As least I did because yuck. #squashhater

Thank me later.

Oh, and double the recipe if you plan to eat a ginormous bowl of it every day for lunch for a week straight.

(food) eat all the things

This weekend was all about comfort at the Cook house. We spent most of the weekend catching up on True Blood (almost to the end of season 4!), attempted to see the Dark Knight Rises which was sold out (wtf!!!!), and I cooked – a lot. After eating out the entire time last week, it was nice to crack open my cookbooks and spend some time in the kitchen.

The major standout was chicken and dumplings from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. Warning 1: She states this takes about 2.5 hours, but it took me more like 3.5 hours. Warning 2: She says to buy a whole organic chicken and then you cut it up into 10 pieces. Why I didn’t just buy a chicken that was already cut up is dumb. I wasn’t thinking clearly and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again attempt to cut up my own chicken, and neither should you. Unless of course wrestling with raw chicken and kitchen shears is your idea of fun. This is probably why it took me way longer to make than suggested, but who doesn’t love eating dinner at 9:30? Anywho, the recipe turned out great even if I couldn’t find duck bacon and forgot to buy a leek. If you don’t have GP’s cookbook, which I’d definitely recommend, you can find the recipe here

An honorable mention goes to my homemade macaroni and cheese. It’s the second time I’ve made this recipe, and it’s a real winner (don’t you love how I call it my mac and cheese even though it’s clearly not my recipe). It comes from the cookbook Bride and Groom: First and Forever, which is a cheesy (pun!) name for a great cookbook. I’ve made almost everything in this book and it never fails to taste awesome. The recipe for stovetop mac and cheese is super easy and super tasty and I like that the sauce is creamy and cheesy and not from Velveeta. I added some steamed broccoli to the noodles and cheese to convince myself I was being healthy.

(image via)

First prize in the sweets category goes to these peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. Basically, I like to cram as many flavors as possible into my cookies and I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand for these cookies, so what did you expect me to do besides make them immediately? I subbed Crisco for half the butter the recipe called for because I like my cookies on the chewy side and Crisco is good for that.

(image via)

Did you do any cooking this weekend? Let me know your approved recipes; I’m always on the lookout for more tasty, homemade eats! And if you make any of these goodies, let me know what you think. Happy Monday.

Oh wait.

There are some good peaches to be had at the Farmer’s Market this time of year, and I think…nay, I know…I found a great way to use some of them up!

Grilled Peach Old Fashioned


2 ripe yellow peaches
2 tablespoons sugar
6 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
4 dashes of bitters
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 ounces bourbon

Quarter peaches and grill until charred. Muddle sugar, thyme, bitters, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, and divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with peach section and thyme sprigs.

(via almosthalfway)

There are some good peaches to be had at the Farmer’s Market this time of year, and I think…nay, I know…I found a great way to use some of them up!

Grilled Peach Old Fashioned

  • 2 ripe yellow peaches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 4 dashes of bitters
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 6 ounces bourbon
Quarter peaches and grill until charred. Muddle sugar, thyme, bitters, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, and divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with peach section and thyme sprigs.

(food) There’s a New Breakfast in Town

(image source)

Since getting my braces put on last week, my mouth has been very sensitive. The first couple days were full of excruciating pain and I really couldn’t handle eating anything that required chewing of any sort. I mean, it even hurt to chew watermelon and that is a pretty soft fruit. Now that I’m almost at the one week mark, the overall pain has lessened but my teeth are still very tender when it comes to biting into and chewing anything hard. So things like chips, pretzel and basically anything that requires the use of my front teeth are still off limits. Basically, everything must be cut into very small pieces so it can go straight to the back chompers. Anywho, this is all just a really long-winded way of telling you that my breakfast standby - the thing I eat for breakfast like 3,574 days of the year - has been off limits. My teeth just can’t handle chomping into my beloved toast with avocado and egg. So, what’s a tender tin grin to do? Head to the pinterest, and find a picture of summer porridge aka cold oatmeal, the latter of which sounds terribly unappealing, so I’ll stick with summer porridge. It’s basically a summerified version of oatmeal but zhushed up to have maximum nutrition and not leave you hungry by 9 am.

I found my recipe here, but I tweaked it a bit to substitute coconut milk for skim milk and in the case of the banana-chocolate combo, I used raw cacao powder for tons of antioxidants. I’ve made the banana-chocolate and raspberry-vanilla flavor combos and they are both tops. I would probably eat them on the reg, even if I wasn’t currently dealing with a case of feeble fence face. I make these the night before so the oats can soak and soften up and the chia seeds can expand, and I reap the following benefits:

Raw Cacao Powder (banana-chocolate flavor only)

  • Raw cacao has more antioxidant flavenoids that blueberries, red wine, and green tea.
  • Cacao increases the levels of specific neurotransmitters (including seratonin and endorphins) to promote a positive outlook, facilitate rejuvenation, and help make you feel good.
  • Cacao is rich in essential minerals including magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese (source)

Chia Seeds

  • Provides maximum amount of nutrients with minimum calories, including fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and protein.
  • Chia absorbs up to 12 times it own weight in liquid and expands to curb your appetite.
  • Ounce for ounce, chia seeds have more omega 3-fatty acids than salmon.
  • Chia has 18% of your daily value of calcium per ounce, which is three times more than skim milk. (source)

Coconut Milk

  • Full of healthy fats that satiate your appetite and help control weight.Coconut milk contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids, and capric acid which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Yay immune benefits!
  • It is rich in manganese which helps maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • The saturated fat in coconut is made up of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids the body quickly turns into energy instead of storing as fat. Therefore, the fats in coconut milk can aid in weight loss. (source and source)

And all this before 8 am? (pats self on back). Hopefully you’re already familiar with all the benefits of rolled oats (not quick cooking, fyi), raspberries, bananas, and Greek yogurt, so I don’t need to detail those for you smart people.

Overall, this breakfast gets two out of two headgear ratings from me.

So, definitely give it a whirl, especially if you have busy mornings. Since you make it the night before, it’s ready to go whenever you are.

(food) strawberry cake

Hello, class! Welcome to today’s lesson baking on a strawberry cake. Specifically, this strawberry cake from the queen of crafts and insider trading herself, Martha Stewart.

Without further ado, let’s get started….

Lesson 1: If you see four pounds of strawberries on sale for $6, you should buy them. That is a great deal for strawberries. You might then find yourself wondering what will one woman do with four pounds of strawberries. That is a great question, and the answer is that you shall bake a strawberry cake. But before you embark on this venture to bake a strawberry cake from scratch which you have never done before, it is wise to locate a recipe either before or while you are at the store also purchasing the strawberries. This will result in fewer trips to pick up eggs, then crap we’re out of butter, and omg are you kidding me we don’t have enough flour. gawd!

Lesson 2: If you share your house with a person who never ever ever in a million years has or would ever bake anything like a strawberry cake but is so sweet to do the dishes without asking and puts stuff away not even where they go, you should probably make sure you locate your mixers before you start to bake your strawberry cake. If you follow this one simple step, it will result in reduced anxiety, it will keep things orderly in your drawers since you won’t toss everything out while looking for the mixers, and it will actually provide you with the ability to mix your cake. This is important.

Lesson 3: This may seem like a simple step, but it is often overlooked by those of us who have been baking for a few years and think we know how to bake stuff. However, if you read the recipe (remember: before you go to the store), you would know that M-Stew (Martha Stewart, duh) wants us to cream together the butter and sugar for three minutes and not add the sugar to the flour mix because you obviously can’t cream butter and flour. duh. You are so dumb. Oh, also, make sure you have your mixers for this step. But if, after leaving the kitchen in exasperation and then returning 30 minutes later because you hope the butter has softened enough in your house where the AC is currently broken (remind me again why we thought it was a good idea to turn on the oven and bake stuff when the AC is broken and it’s 80 degrees outside. Oh, that’s right. They were on SALE!!!!!), and then you try to mash up the butter mixture with a fork, this probably won’t work. You’ll eventually wind up fishing butter chunks out of the egg, butter and milk (oh wait, did we add milk. yes. yes, we did) and then you might remember reading somewhere on the internet that you can substitute applesauce for oil in recipes so this would probably work for the butter. So, add some applesauce and then sploosh in a little vegetable oil. Ya know, just in case. And even though your applesauce has been sitting in the fridge since the last time you were pre-cleansing, it’s still good!

Lesson 4: If you leave your kitchen in exasperation because you have four pounds of strawberries and your recipe is turning to pot, it’s best to take a break and just step away for a moment to regain your composure. Wine will help. But, if you leave all your ingredients out on the counter and you have a dog, you should probably either not leave your ingredients out on the counter or you should make sure your dog is not in the kitchen unsupervised.

Lesson 5: If you have an oven where the button to turn the timer ON is right next to the button where you turn the oven OFF, make sure you just hit the button to turn the timer on. If not, this cake that is supposed to take 30 minutes will take way longer than that and you won’t know fucking why it is taking so damn long.

If you follow all of these steps, you can have a cake that looks like this:

If you don’t follow these steps, it’s okay. You get a cake that looks like this:

Pretty damn close.

(food) this salad

It’s probably going too far to say that a salad has changed my life. So, I won’t go there, but this salad has infinitely improved my lunch hour.

It’s simple, as most delicious things are but it’s so, so, good (and most low carb-ish). You can make it to with just some butter lettuce, the most ripe mango you can find, this cheese (seriously, it’s the best cheese I have ever tasted and I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason this salad is the bombdizzle), some toasted pine nuts and then dress with a sploosh of rice wine vinegar and a squeeze of half an orange. Toss and eat.

And yes, I eat my salads out of mixing bowls because a) if this is going to be my meal, it’s got to be big, and b) I hate when stuff falls out.

(food) Morning Juice

My morning green juice

With all these questions popping in about cleansing, I figured I’d share with you what I’ve been starting my mornings off with - and that is a nice big glass of green juice. It’s super energizing and tasty and I haven’t done a full-fledged cleanse in a few months, so this is a nice way to still incorporate freshly made juices.

Don’t let the color scare you off you’re a juicing newbie. Starting your day with this juice is incredibly refreshing. You will feel great!

I basically tweak my concoction to whatever I have in stock (which currently is what’s listed above). As long as you remember the apples and the lemon, you can’t really go wrong. The apples add a little sweetness and the lemon cuts the green nicely. 

Drink up!

(food) raw fettuccine alfredo

12 - 1

(It’s hard to make a dish like this look pretty but it tastes fab. trust)

I am by no means a vegetarian, vegan or raw foodist, but I totally appreciate the philosophy behind eating foods that whole, natural and low in sugar and dairy. While, I’ll never give up my morning coffee with cream (been there, tried that, failed miserably), I am trying to reduce the “bad” things I put in my body while increasing the “good” things. Bad means anything processed, high in bad fats or sugar and good means anything natural, whole and full of vitamins and minerals. And by “reduce”, I mean replace some traditional dishes with healthier alternatives and keep a focus on consuming mostly plants.

So, when I came across the book Eat Well, Eat Raw, I picked it up and immediately found a few recipes to try. My personal goal is to eating mostly raw for breakfast and lunch. We’ll just ignore the Combos I got from the vending machine yesterday at 2 pm, okay?. I’m still learning how much it takes to make me full when I’m eating vegetable noodles instead of regular noodles.

I really like that this book breaks it down by meals (like most cookbooks, I guess) but it also tells you in big bold letters what, if any, equipment you’d need to make a recipe. So, I skip right over the ones that require a dehydrator or spiralizer or mandoline because I have none of those. There’s still plenty to choose from though, so don’t worry your skinny little head.

For the past two days, I’ve been eating raw “fettuccine alfredo” for lunch. It uses a sauce recipe that came from the aforementioned book. Let me just tell you that when I made that alfredo sauce with nary a piece of cheese in site, I couldn’t believe how amazing it tasted. Like I was for sure thinking this was going to taste like turds and vomit, but it is aaaaaamazing! I even gave Jason a blind taste test and he of the “if there’s no meat, it’s not a meal” mindset even liked it. And what’s even better is that after I have a big bowl of my raw-ified version of fettuccine alfredo, I feel totally great and energized, not sleepy and bloated and guilty.

Read on for the recipe deets!

So, here’s what you do:

For the noodles (yield 2 servings)

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 8-10 asparagus stalks
  • half a lemon
  • sea salt

Using a vegetable peeler, shred the zucchini and asparagus stalks. You’ll shred the zucchini all the way around, stopping once you get to the seeds. For the asparagus, I found that laying it flat on a cutting board and shredding it until I could shred no more was the most effective. Next, toss your peeled veggie bits together and squeeze lemon juice over them and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss again and let them sit for about 20 minutes.

For the alfredo sauce (yield 1.5 cups - note, the book’s recipe yields 3 cups, but I thought that was way too much for little ole me)

  • 1 cup of raw cashews that have been soaking in water for about 30 minutes
  • 1/3 c. filtered water
  • 1.5 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
  • 0.5 tbsp brown rice miso
  • 0.5 tbsp lemon juice (use that other half of the lemon from the noodles)
  • sea salt

Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth. You’ll use about half of the sauce (so 3/4 c.) if you toss it with the noodles and you’ll have two servings. Use the other half to just eat straight up with a spoon or if you have shame (me, I have none) spread it on crackers or dip carrots into it or whatever you want, really.

(food) vegetarian black bean chili

Oh hi! What’s that? What did you say?

You don’t know what to make for dinner tonight, but you want something that is super fast and super tasty and mostly pretty healthy?

Oooooh boy, have I got a suggestion for you. Why don’t you make this chili? It’s so good that I ate it three days  in a row. It was ready in 30 minutes, and half of that time was just letting everything simmer together and become BFFs.

Yeah, this is what I think you should make for dinner tonight.

(these are basically your ingredients, not pictures are three cans of black beans and one can of diced tomatoes)

(cilantro and green onion to go on top)

(and sour cream too. It’s good.)