Davis Beer Week

17 Aug IMG_0160-0.JPG

The summer is almost at an end – I’m setting my alarm tonight for the first time in about a week. Tomorrow is the beginning of pre-year meetings and planning sessions even though the kids don’t come back for another week and a half. I’m not quite ready.

It was a weird summer. Not bad….but kind of bumpy. Summer work was overall good but I missed my trip home due to an ill timed flu. I spent one whole weekend in bed. Missing the flight, though, did mean I was in town for Davis Beer Week.

Even though I didn’t participate in many of the official events, I did a lot of unofficial tastings at home.

I kicked off beer week with a range of pale ales. First was Auburn Alehouse Independence Day Ale. Decent, but not noteworthy. IMG_0128.JPG

Although the cap was pretty awesome… IMG_0129.JPG

I also had Dale’s Pale Ale for the first time. Not sure how I’ve managed to miss it but it provided a nice pick me up to an afternoon reading educational books.

IMG_0134.JPG

Finally tonight in honor of fall I tried New Belgium’s Tour De Fall – of the three this was probably my favorite.

IMG_0175.JPG

I did go to a great class at the Davis Co-Op: Cooking with Beer. I got to watch the excellent chef there make four different recipe and sample each. We had Lambic Whipped Cream Cheese, Chocolate Stout Muffins (sooooo good!), Welsh Rarebit with a brown ale, and finally an IPA BBQ sauce.

IMG_0137.JPG

I wrapped the week up at the Davis Bike and Brew Fest. My friend Katy kindly went with me. Beer, sunshine, and a good friend – a perfect ending to summer.

IMG_0172.JPG

Meal Planning!

22 Jul image_4

I really like to cook and I love to bake but sometimes dinner is hard. You know, when you’re driving home from work thinking “What am I going to make for dinner?” and the easiest thing is just stop off and pick something up. I never seem to have the groceries I want on hand or the energy to even make a decision about what I want. Last January one of my New Year’s goals was to start planning my meals and it made a huge difference. For about two weeks. I knew what I was going to have for dinner that week, went grocery shopping ahead of time, everything was perfect. Except for the meal planning part. When I sat down on Saturday morning I could never think of what meals I wanted and ended up rotating through the same seven or so.

Well, I’m trying something new this year. Totally inspired by Decor and the Dog’s Meal Planning Tips I made a list of 30 meals – things I’ve served for beer dinners, tried and true family favorites, a few randoms like breakfast for dinner and grilled cheese and tomato soup. Then, I made magnets that listed each of my 30 options. (I also included a “Dinner Out” and “Try a New Recipe” magnets to mix things up.)

image

Next, I wrote each recipe out on an individual card, listing the perishable vs. non-perishable ingredients separately. Each recipe got it’s own number, too, on both the magnet and card. That way, I can easily look up the ingredients for each meal and make a grocery list.

image_2

The idea is that the 30 magnets will go into my cute retro flower jar and on Saturday morning I can pull out 4-6 meals (depending on what the upcoming week looks like) and voila! meal planning done!

image_6

I made a frame to contain my magnets on the fridge. I like Decor and the Dog’s suggestion of not assigning a particular meal to a particular night so there’s flexibility. Next up, a trip to Costco to stock up on some of the non-perishables!

image_7

Meals I included:

  1. Vegetarian Chili
  2. Tortilla Soup
  3. Black Bean Sliders
  4. Lentil Soup
  5. Potato Soup
  6. Mini Tamale Pie
  7. Shrimp Creole
  8. Taco Casserole
  9. Spinach Manicotti
  10. Veggie Pasta Bake
  11. Fried Rice
  12. Enchiladas
  13. Lasagna
  14. Baked Macaroni & Cheese
  15. Stuffed Potatoes
  16. Stuffed Bell Peppers
  17. Quiche
  18. Potato Galette
  19. Baked Veggies & Rice
  20. Southwestern Egg Rolls
  21. Quinoa Patties
  22. Pizza
  23. Spaghetti or Ravioli
  24. New!
  25. Dinner out!
  26. Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  27. Breakfast for dinner
  28. Black Bean Empanadas
  29. Spaghetti Squash Casserole
  30. Shrimp Fettuccine & Asparagus

IPAlooza! May Beer Dinner

27 Jun IMG_1436

IPAlooza! Get it!? IPA-looza! iPalooza! An all IPA beer dinner!

It’s taken me awhile but I’ve grown to love IPAs. The hoppy bitterness is amazingly satisfying and I love the way IPAs smell. So…I was super excited for my April postponed to May beer dinner that was all IPAs all the time. I also decided to try and focus on IPAs that were relatively local.

IMG_1418

I started with Gold Digger IPA by the Auburn Alehouse Brewery. I’ve been up to the Auburn Alehouse a few times now – it’s a great place to stop after a hike in Auburn. This beer I paired with a great Broccoli, Grape, and Cucumber salad.

Next I paired Track 7′s Panic IPA with the Roasted Potato Galette. Still haven’t made it out to the brewery, but their Daylight Amber is one of my favorites.

IMG_1372

We wrapped up with Rubicon’s IPA and delish Caramel Apple Cupcakes!

IMG_1432

We got to try a range of different IPAs. My favorites were the Knee Deep Midnight Hoppyness and Samuel Adam’s Rebel IPA. The Midnight Hoppyness is a black IPA. The Sam Adams IPA is pretty mild and very drinkable.

IMG_1437

I was also super excited to show off my newest project….my patio! My dad came down in March to help me build it during my Spring Break.

We started with a blank slate – just lots of dirt and some weeds…

IMG_1278

…and a lot of gravel and sand.

IMG_1293

After lots of digging we found a rouge concrete slab…and then laid out a great foundation.

IMG_1303

Next I laid out all the pavers…

IMG_1305

…and learned how to use power tools to make planter boxes!

IMG_1302

Finally we swept sand over the whole patio to fill in the gaps.

IMG_1312

Some furniture and plants make it a wonderful place to hang out! We held the tasting out there this beer dinner and it was wonderful! I think I’ve spent most evenings hanging out on the patio with a cold beer and a good book!

IMG_1330

 

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

18 Jun IMG_1432

I think caramel and apples are one of the best possible combinations. When I was younger my mom sometimes packed that Margetti caramel apple dip and some sliced apples in my lunch. As an adult I don’t really allow myself to buy things like that for fear that I will just sit on the couch and eat it with a spoon. I don’t have a lot of will power.

But these caramel apple cupcakes are a perfect compromise! I planned on making them for the May beer dinner since the theme was iPAlooza and apple pie and IPA is supposed to be a good combination. Since I had served apple pie in the fall, I wanted something different. (I also tried these Apple Tartlets which were good!) The cupcakes ended up being suppppppper moist and the caramel flavored frosting amazing!

Shockingly, this is one recipe of mine that doesn’t start with creaming together the butter and sugar! Start by mixing together the sugars, vanilla, and eggs. Then, add some vegetable oil.

IMG_1420

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

IMG_1421

Slowly combine the two, along with the milk.

IMG_1424

Then, add in the applesauce. I liked that this recipe used applesauce instead of apples – it was quicker and easier, plus I think the applesauce contributed to the high moisture content!

IMG_1425

Finally, distribute the mix into muffin tins and bake!

IMG_1428

For the frosting, I basically eyeballed it. I think I used two sticks of butter and about 3.5 cups of powdered sugar. Then, instead of adding milk, I added about half a jar of Trader Joe’s salted caramel sauce (adding the milk, too, threw off the consistency of the frosting). Top the cupcakes with frosting and enjoy!

IMG_1430

Caramel Apple Cupcakes (original recipe found at Kawaii Gourmet)

Everything you’ll needed

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • Your favorite frosting made with salted caramel!

Directions

  1. Mix together the granulated sugar (1 c), brown sugar (1/2 c), vanilla (2 tsp), and eggs (4).
  2. Add the vegetable oil (1 cup) until well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour (3 c), baking powder (4 tsp), salt (1 tsp), cinnamon (1 tsp), and nutmeg (1/2 tsp).
  4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar/egg mixture, alternating with the milk (1/4 cup).
  5. Finally, fold in the applesauce (2 cups), being sure to not over mix.
  6. Fill cupcake tins about 1/3 way full and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool, then top with caramel buttercream frosting.

 

Spring Potato Galette

16 Jun IMG_1372

Spring potato galette…or at least it was spring when I started cooking! Clearly, I have a lot of catching up to do!

Today was the first official day of summer. After a long but pretty wonderful year of teaching I’m ready for a bit of a break. Even though I start my summer job in just a week, I’m officially taking advantage of the longer, lazier days. Today I went to my first baseball game of the season (Go Sacramento RiverCats!) and lounged by the pool.

Pool

I love summer break but sometimes August rolls around and it seems I’ve accomplished nothing. So I made a list this year and am hoping to slowly check things off. I need to organize my garage (always!) and make a beer bottle wind chime. There are too many books to read and a few lessons to revise, too. Some knitting and sewing project to start, and a few to finally finish. Plus cooking. Cooking and baking of course.

This recipe I think I have down. I found the recipe for the potato galette from Joy the Baker (she’s the best – have you gotten her cookbooks yet? Me either but I want them!) and severed it at my May beer dinner. Like Joy said, it’s the perfect comfort food. And also may have contributed to why last year’s bathing suit was a little tighter this season…

You start with potatoes and chives.

IMG_1354

I got to use my mandolin again to slice the potatoes before roasting.

IMG_1358

Next, toss the potato slices with olive oil and spices. Joy uses Old Bay but I have a giant bottle of Johnny’s Seasoning that gets used about once a year to make Chex mix at Christmas…

IMG_1360

Then, you lay the potato slices out to roast.

IMG_1361

Meanwhile, you can make the pie crust. I went ahead and used the tried and true Perfect Pie Crust Recipe. Divided up nicely, the recipe makes enough for eight smaller galettes.

IMG_1363

If you have any potatoes left after snacking, it’s time to layer them with cheese and chives.

IMG_1367

The chives are so pretty. I currently have some growing in my garden. Hopefully mine will survive my not-so-green thumb!

IMG_1362

Finally you fold the pie crust over the edges a bit and bake!

IMG_1369

The galettes came out a little crisp, totally rich, and wonderfully delicious. I served my with a salad and an IPA.

IMG_1373

Joy the Baker’s Roasted Potato Galette

Everything you’ll need: (I included measurements but didn’t really measure when I put mine together)

  • Your favorite pie crust recipe
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat
  • 1-2 teaspoons seasoning (Johnny’s or Old Bay)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 large, beat egg to coat the crust

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. Coat the potato slices with olive oil and liberally season.
  2. Lay the potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  3. Roll out a small pie crust (I used 1/8 of the Perfect Pie Crust recipe) and add a layer of potatoes in the center. Add cheese and chives.
  4. Add a second layer of potatoes, cheese, and chives.
  5. Fold the edges of the pie crust over the potatoes and brush with the egg.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and the cheese is melty!

*As Joy suggested, I assembled my galette directly on the sheet I was going to bake it on since it would be tricky to transfer.

 

Stuffed (with good tidings) Potatoes

19 Mar IMG_1204

I’m feeling full of love and good tidings. Something about putting my body to work, being amongst the green and growing, cooking good food. Because that’s what I did this afternoon. I ran out of work early today and made the afternoon about things I wanted to do. There never seems to be enough time to do that and so often I start conversations with friends and colleagues about how tired we are, how busy, how stressed. So today was all spring and good tidings.

After work I went to the pool to swim laps (and by swim laps I mean flail around a bit and stop to catch my breath every four lengths…) and then headed to the grocery store. I’ve reached my limit of cheese and cracker lunches so I had to get something. Walking by the deli case I was inspired by the twice baked potatoes and decided to make my own for dinner (and lunch tomorrow!)

I’ve made these any number of times before and tend to go long stretches forgetting about them. The recipe is originally from a Weight Watchers cookbook but I don’t really measure much now – just throw things in until they taste good. Mix in whatever you want!

Start, of course, by baking up some potatoes. I pulled weeds while they cooked. You can almost see my backyard again. Seriously, there were (still are) a lot of weeds.

IMG_1182

While the potatoes are finishing up chop and saute onion, broccoli, and carrots.

IMG_1187

Next, scoop out the insides of the potatoes and mash with a little butter, milk, and salt and pepper.

IMG_1189

Be careful not to burn your fingers while scooping. I’ve made that mistake before. More than once.

IMG_1188

Mix some cottage cheese and a little shredded cheese into the mashed potatoes and add the veggies.

IMG_1191

Scoop the potato-veggie mix back into the potato skins, sprinkle with a bit of cheese, then bake.

IMG_1195

And that’s it! The cooking time is long but the recipe is simple.

IMG_1201

I’m playing with the idea of serving these at the next beer dinner. My thought was to make April’s beer dinner iPAlooza (get it!? IPA-palooza! All IPAs!) so I paired tonight’s dinner with the KBC IPA. The beer was good. The pairing just OK. Suggestions?

Happy Spring and good tidings! I hope you take a moment in your day that’s just for you!

Stuffed Potatoes

Everything You’ll Need

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Head of broccoli
  • Other veggies if you want!
  • About 4 ounces of cottage cheese
  • About 1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided
  • Little bit of milk
  • Little bit of butter

Instructions

  1. Cook potatoes at 375 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until tender.
  2. Chop the onion, carrot, and broccoli and saute in olive oil until tender. Add spices if you want! Like garlic powder!
  3. When the potatoes are done, carefully cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin in tact.
  4. Mash the potatoes with a little bit of milk and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the cottage cheese and half the shredded cheese to the potatoes and fold in. Then, add the veggies.
  6. Scoop the potato-veggie mix into the potato skins and sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes until heated through.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

16 Mar Irish Coffee Cupcake

This past Thursday was “the night” – a major presentation and the culmination of a project my 9th graders have been working on for the last six weeks. The school I work at uses projects and presentation as an evaluative tool instead of tests and this particular project was presented not just to me, but the whole school and larger community. We ran around like yahoos getting set up for at least the past week. And damn did they pull it off. I got to walk around all night just eavesdropping and there’s nothing sweeter than hearing that kid who never appears to be paying attention in class rocking his presentation.

Projects like this seem to take on a life of their own and overwhelm everything else the kids are supposed to be working on, so as a thank you for my colleagues who put up with it all I brought in Coffee Cupcakes. They were delicious and just the right kind of pick me up!

It being March though, and St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to Irish them up this weekend. You can’t exactly bring whiskey spiked cupcakes to school but I can certainly enjoy them from my kitchen! The first time I made them I followed “I Heart Kitchen’s” Triple Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes recipe with a buttercream frosting. The second time I modified a bit. And by modified, I mean added booze.

I started by adding the dry ingredients together. (I reduced the cocoa powder from four to three tablespoons because while chocolate is amazing, I’m not a huge fan of richly chocolate cake.)

IMG_1150

Next, whip up the butter and the sugar. Always butter and sugar. Then add the eggs until you have a beautifully yellow mixture.

IMG_1151

While the butter is a blending, combine the coffee, whiskey, and vanilla. (The original recipe was all coffee – I reduced the amount of coffee by the amount of alcohol I added.)

IMG_1152

Next, alternate adding the dry ingredients and liquid. Then, add some chocolate chips! I used the little ones because they’re cute and proportional to cupcakes but also doubled the amount called for.

IMG_1155

Distribute evenly into muffin tins – the recipe made 18 cupcakes.

IMG_1157

With the whiskey added the cupcakes didn’t rise quite as much as when I followed the original recipe but they were a lot moister. The whiskey flavor was very subtle, I could only taste it in a bite or two, and I was happier with the more minimal chocolate flavor.

IMG_1161

Of course, I can’t call this an Irish cupcake without a little Bailey’s. That’s what frosting is for!

IMG_1165

Topped with Bailey’s buttercream frosting and some green sprinkles, these cupcakes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you need a little coffee and booze break!

IMG_1169

The original cupcake recipe was from I Heart Kitchen and the frosting recipe was from Recipe Girl (I made it before to top my Irish Cream Cupcakes last year!)

Irish Coffee Cupcakes (makes 18 cupcakes)

Everything you’ll need

For the cupcakes

  • 1-3/4 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • About 1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 50 mL whiskey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients – flour (1-3/4 c. + 1 T), baking powder (2 t.), salt (1/4 t.), and cocoa (3 T).
  3. Combine the coffee and whiskey (should be 1 cup TOTAL) with vanilla (1/2 t.) and set aside.
  4. Beat together the butter (1/2 c.) and sugar (1 c.).
  5. Add the eggs (2) one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Alternating, add the dry ingredients and the liquid to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, mixing well.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips (1/2 c.)
  8. Line muffin tins and fill with 1/4 cup of mixture.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. For the frosting: Beat the butter (1 c.) and sugar (3 c.) together, then add the Bailey’s and vanilla. Add more powdered sugar if needed or thin (if needed) with a little milk.