Archive | January, 2014

Belated Christmas Joy – December Beer Dinner

30 Jan

I know it’s almost Valentine’s day but I love Christmas. So even though two months have gone by since the December beer dinner I’m pretty OK with  re-visiting it.

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. I love the traditions of the season, the decorations, the chance to get together with friends you only see once in awhile. Constantly through the season I try to pause and appreciate the joy, something I need to remember more throughout the year. Just yesterday I was rushing through my day thinking about how stressed I was but when I actually took a minute to reflect, I realized a hectic day didn’t equal a bad day. I mean, a kid brought me glue sticks as a present. That’s a good day. So take a moment with me to remember the holiday, have a little beer, and enjoy.

Decorating the house is always a favorite. I kind of have decorations for every holiday…

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This was the anniversary beer dinner so we did a gift exchange and I bought crackers with ridiculous toys and paper crowns inside.

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The theme was “Favorite Beers” so everyone brought a beer they liked best. I paired the first course of dinner, roasted carrots and parsnips, with Red Seal Ale, and the second course, veggie pot pies, with Primator Lager.

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The best course of the night had to be dessert. Chocolate Whoppie pies! They were a bit of  a bitch to make…

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…but were definitely a hit and tasted delicious paired with Bison’s Organic Chocolate Stout!

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So much belated joy and thanks to everyone who attended December’s beer dinner and made my first year of cooking, beer, and baking such fun!


Validation Beer Brownies

29 Jan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about big life events. Those milestones we judge our life by and use to compare ourselves to others. Maybe it’s because I just turned 30. Maybe it’s because in the last 5 months I know of 11 babies that have come into the world (that’s 10 pregnant friends, twins for one), with one more expected yesterday. We have baby showers and bachelorette parties, bridal showers and weddings to acknowledge these huge events and validate our life decisions. And these haven’t happened for me yet. I’m pretty much 100% OK with that – I’m not ready to be married, I don’t want the responsibility of a child – but sometimes I need a little validation, too. Where’s the party for going on another awkward first date? The party hat for being the only single person during dinner at the wedding reception? Hanging up your own curtain rods. Again. So that’s where brownies come in. (And beer, let’s admit.) Amazing, chocolaty, gooey brownies to celebrate a Tuesday night.

Even better than being validation brownies, these have beer in them! Chocolate and porter – the best of my two favorite food groups!

Chocolate and beer

You start by getting all the various ingredients prepped – mixing the flour and cocoa together, beating together the sugar and eggs.


Melting the chocolate, testing the beer (it was good to go).

You also brown the butter a bit before adding it to the chocolate along with the beer and some vanilla. I almost stopped right there…

Chocolate mix

Mix all the ingredients together and add chocolate chips…


…then pour into a prepared pan. Parchment paper is the best.

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I cooked mine for about 40 minutes but ended up putting them back in for another 5 after I started cutting into them – just a little too underdone in the middle. The top end up being wonderfully cracked.

Baked brownies

Such a delicious pairing – although the brownies would have been wonderful with milk, too!

Brownies and beer

Total credit for the recipe goes to Claire at the Kitchy Kitchen for this Beer Brownies with Milk recipe.

Everything you’ll need:

  • 3-1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter, browned
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup porter or stout
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


As I type this, I realize I didn’t follow the directions on The Kitchy Kitchen exactly. Below is what I did…

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees and prepare pan (butter and flour or line with parchment paper).
  2. Carefully melt the chocolate either in a bowl over boiling water or in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour (1 cup) with the cocoa powder (1/4 cup) and set aside.
  4. Cream together the eggs (4) with the sugars (1 cup white, 1 cup brown), about 2 minutes.
  5. Separately, brown the butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan.
  6. Combine the melted chocolate, browned butter, vanilla (2 t), and beer (1/2 cup).
  7. Add part of the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture, beat. Then, add the wet ingredients and mix. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips (1 cup).
  9. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.