Monthly Archives: April 2011

New Belgian Brewing Food Pairing

A couple months ago, I got an email from Foodbuzz asking if I wanted to be part of their New Belgium Brewing Company Food Pairing Challenge. Of course, I said yes and was happy to find out that I was chosen to participate. Foodbuzz provided everyone with a stipend of $50 and instructed us to make a meal either using a New Belgium beer or make a meal that pairs well with one.

I’ve had a few New Belgium beers before, my favorite being Mothership Wit. However, Jason is not a fan of wheat beers and I knew that if I bought a 6-pack of that, the remaining beers would be in my fridge for a long time before I drank them. I’m not a big drinker at home. So instead, I went with Fat Tire, an amber.

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It took me a long time to come up with what I wanted to make. I knew that I wanted to make a recipe that used the beer as opposed to one that went well with beer. At first I thought about some sort of bread. And then I thought about chili and then for a while, I thought about doing a shrimp boil. But it wasn’t until my birthday dinner at Wisteria when I came up with my idea. Mussels!

I had mussels for the first time in London. I studied there one semester of my junior year in college. I was in a Belgian restaurant (hey, New Belgium, I didn’t even think about that!) with my roommate and some relatives of hers and I thought that I might as well be adventurous and try them. I’m glad that I did because they’re one of my favorite types of seafood. I can’t for the life of me remember what the restaurant was called but you went down an elevator and I think the servers might have been dressed as monks. Or I made that up.

I often order mussels in restaurants but had never made them at home. I stopped at Whole Foods after work and picked up 2 pounds of mussels. Since these particular mussels were farmed, I did not have to scrub or de-beard them; I just let them soak in some water for about ten minutes.

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After they had soaked, I went through all of them and picked out the ones that were opened to tap. If you tap them and they close, they’re okay. If they stay opened, they’re bad and need to be thrown out. I ended up throwing out about ten.

I combined onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, beer and spices in a pot and added the mussels.

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I covered the pot and cooked them on medium for about 7 minutes. With cooked mussels, it’s the opposite, if they are closed, they are bad. Fortunately, mine were all opened. I served them with a piece of corn and some french bread for sopping.

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This tasted as good as any mussel dish that I’ve had in a restaurant, the Belgian restaurant in London included. Okay, maybe not that one!

Fat Tire Mussels
2 generous servings

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/2 can Fat Tire Amber Ale
2 lbs mussels
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper

1. Rinse mussels.
2. Melt butter in pot on medium. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, beer, salt and red pepper. Let simmer for five minutes.
3. Add mussels and cover. Let cook for 7 minutes, stirring ocassionally.

Choosing Happiness

The tornadoes in Alabama hit close to home for me. Literally and figuratively. Parts of Georgia were under a tornado warning on Wednesday night. Fortunately, the city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas were spared and we just got some strong winds and a little bit of rain. Living in Georgia, however, I know a lot of people that are from Alabama and it really made me think about how life can just be over in an instant. And even if it’s not, it still passes by really fast. I graduated high school fifteen years ago (class of 96, baby!). How did that happen? How does life go by so quickly?

Obviously I can’t change that. I can’t change a natural disaster. But I can change how I live my life moment to moment. I let little things bother me all the time. I need to focus on enjoying what I do have instead of moping about what I don’t.

Let’s practice!

Instead of moping about Jason working overnight and on weekends, I’m going to focus on how we cherish the times that we do get to spend together. Who knows, maybe we’d get sick of each other if we had the same schedule? (Kidding, kidding.) We probably wouldn’t find the need to meet for mid-day lunches though and those are something I really enjoy.

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That’s a tofu banh mi sandwich and vegan pho from Lee’s Bakery (no relation)!

And that’s brings up something else that I can change. Instead of lamenting the fact that we live in the suburbs and not the city, I can appreciate the fact that I live in [the suburbs of] a city that has tofu sandwiches and vegan pho! Sometimes I get sick of living in Atlanta. I don’t agree with the political leanings of Georgia as a whole (although Atlanta is sort of different) and sometimes I think, why am I here? But then I remember that it’s really a cool city and that I have so many opportunities here that other people in other cities don’t have.

I could do more but I’m late to work. Another thing that I should be happy about – I have a job. What do you let bother you that you can change?

PS – If you are lucky enough, like I am, to live in a city with Whole Foods, organic strawberries are on sale for $1.99 today.

The Importance of Stocking the Kitchen

The weekend got away from me. Between my birthday party and Easter, I just never got around to meal planning and grocery shopping. I’m not really sure why Easter was even a factor in that, since I don’t celebrate it, but I was confused to whether stores were open or not and I guess that combined with laziness got the best of me.

We had enough stuff leftover from the party to eat on Monday night. Then last night was my monthly dinner club. I knew that I desperately needed to get to the grocery store tonight. First, I stopped at the gym. I did 30 minutes on the Arc Trainer and 15 on the Stepmill (aka the stairmaster from hell). When I got home, I took Murphy on a 20 minute walk, showered and before I knew it, it was already 7:30. And I was hungry.

So I started snacking. First I ate a piece of pumpkin bread.

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Recipe adapted from The Runner’s Cookie.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pure pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp flaxseed mixed in 5 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Mix flaxseed in water and let sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients in bowl. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Mix wet and dry together. Cook for 35 minutes.

Makes 9 pieces.

Thanks for the recipe, Corey!

I sat down with my cookbooks and computer and tried to come up with a grocery list, but my grumbling stomach wouldn’t let me. I almost went back for a second piece of bread when I stopped myself and decided to make dinner. Dinner being a creative use of the word since I had refried beans mixed with salsa, cottage cheese and Morningstar Farms sausage crumbles.

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Not exactly what I’d call a balanced meal but at least I wasn’t constantly snacking and then eating dinner on top of that. I really struggle with that. If I don’t have a very clear idea of what I’m making for dinner and all the ingredients on hand, I’ll end up snacking. And then when I figure it out, I’ll eat dinner on top of it. It’s like adding at least 200 calories to my dinner.

In order for this not to happen again tomorrow, I made a quick run to Kroger.

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We’re supposed to get some major storms tonight so I went without a grocery list. I did have several coupons so I sort of based what I bought on that.

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And came home with some staples. Not enough for a full meal, probably, but enough so I can actually have a vegetable and don’t have to eat a can of beans! (Beans, salsa and cottage cheese is actually really good though.)

Stocking the kitchen is really important to me. Oddly enough, when we don’t have anything to eat in the house (and I mean anything good or anything to make a meal, not actually no food), I eat too much because I’m not satisfied. When we have an abundance of good food, I eat the proper amount.

The Three H’s

There’s a saying when it comes to Atlanta running. We have the three H’s – heat, hills and humidity. And they were definitely all present tonight. In reality, it wasn’t that hot out – maybe around 80, but it’s warmer than it’s been. It has been threatening to rain all day, so the humidity was there and the hills, oh the hills.

Apparently, I am quite susceptible to friend’s pleas for running buddies on facebook. My friend Amy (same one that convinced me to do the Warrior Dash) asked if anyone wanted to run the Big Peach 5K this weekend. She is doing Team in Training and if she gets friends to register for the 5K, $5 of the registration fee will go to her fundraising. Of course, I couldn’t say no to that, could I?

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I looked at the course and there is a big hill right in the middle. I’m the first to admit, while I push myself in terms of distance and occasionally (I can never spell that word!) speed, I’m not good at hill training at all. I almost always walk up big hills or find routes where I can avoid them.

And so, in preparation for the 5K, I decided to do a hilly loop around my neighborhood. And it sucked.

Mile 1: 10:18
Mile 2: 10:20

At least I’m consistent, right? There’s a huge hill right at the end of the loop. If it was in the middle, I’d be very tempted to walk it, but knowing that my house is at the top gives me a little more motivation to push myself to the top.

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Are you good at hill running? And if you are in the ATL, do you want to do this 5K and help my friend raise money for Team in Training? (Guilt trip!)

Part Three

I’m not really the type of person that likes to celebrate my birthday all week. But when it falls on a Thursday, that’s kind of what happens. At least, it becomes at a three day celebration. Part three was last night, when we had about 15 of our friends over for a party.

The day started with trips to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Green’s (liquor store) and Kroger. We got our supplies and got ready to prep.

Drink local!

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We had a variety of appetizers, mostly store bought from Trader Joe’s.

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I did, however, find time to make what have become known around my group of friends as my famous Oreo Truffles.

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I also made Mama Pea’s mmmm sauce, but I doubled the chickpeas to give it a more hummus-like consistency.

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Other than those two things, the rest of our food was store-bought from TJ’s and Kroger.

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I didn’t want to drink that much so I started out the night with a Kombucha.

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Murphy, on the other hand, was ready to dive into the beer.

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He wants me to tell you that it was the ice that he was after and that he does not drink.

My friend Emily brought over some chocolate-covered matzoh. If you’ve ever had matzoh, you know it’s not the tastiest thing in the world. It’s like a very dry cracker, but this stuff was like candy. I asked her for the recipe and I can see why it’s so good.

Emily’s Chocolate Covered Matzoh

2 sticks of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
matzoh (she didn’t give me the amount, but I’m assuming it’s a box)
chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet completely with foil. Then put baking parchment over the foil.
preheat the oven to 375∘
cover the cookie sheet completely with matzoh. break up pieces to fit so everything is covered.
melt butter and brown sugar in pot – stir continuously until mixture boils and boil and stir for 3 minutes after that
pour the butter/brown sugar mixture over matzoh
Place in oven and immediately lower oven temp to 325∘
Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips – Let stand for a few minutes and then spread melted chocolate evenly around.
Put in fridge to chill.
When chocolate is hard, break into pieces.

Aside from the matzoh crack, Jason also bought me a giant cupcake!

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It was very hard to cut.

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Murphy was there to make sure I didn’t drop any.

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Our friends started heading out around 11. I was set to go to bed when Jason realized that our neighbors were outside on their deck and invited them over. We’ve lived in this house for almost a year and the first time that I even met them was last week, for some reason. I got a bit of a second wind when I realized that they were coming over and I’m glad that I did because they were super cool. We seemed to have a lot in common too. I can’t believe we’ve lived next door to these potential friends for a year and just now hung out!

And like that, the weekend is almost over.

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