Food, Recipe

Icy, Crunchy, Sweet

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Today I’m feeling light. Outside, it’s anything but – we were supposed to get a blizzard but it turned into rainy slush. Spring break is not far off, and while I’m very excited to be going to New York City, I still can’t stop dreaming of tropical places, fruit, and sun.

We often talk about food taste, but what about feel? The velvety warmth of roasted sweet potatoes, the stickiness of eating berries with your fingers, and – my favorite – the crispy crunch of fresh produce. This salad fulfills me completely as I wasn’t craving the taste so much as I was craving the feeling of biting into something with a sound.

Icy Sweet Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side salad

1 head romaine lettuce
1 head red lettuce
1 6 oz container blueberries
1 head (9 stalks) celery
3 granny smith apples
2 cucumbers
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tap salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

Roughly chop the lettuce and put in a large bowl. Add the blueberries. Dice the cucumbers, celery, and apples and add to the bowl. Combine the honey, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix with fork until blended. Pour over the salad right before serving and toss.

Mix it up! This salad would be good with chopped almonds. You could also try a more lemony dressing, taking out the balsamic and adding lemon zest.

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Food, Review

Arrogant Bastard Ale at Small Kitchen College

I’ve never written a beer review before. Sometimes, wine & beer reviews intimidate me. All this talk of “flavor profiles” and “top notes” and “slight chocolate-raspberry taste with a hint of caramel and aged oak lingering in the nasal passages, scented with honey.” Huh? I’m not demeaning detailed reviews – I think they’re very cool, especially if you really know what you’re doing, and maybe after a few tastings or a class I’ll be able to appreciate that more.

But what I want to know is simple. What kind of beer drinkers might like this beer? What other beers are similar? What can I eat with it? What are some flavors I can actually pick out after a sip or two?

Arrogant Bastard Ale was the perfect beer to start off with. It’s not subtle. It’s not nuanced. It’s a strong beer with strong flavors, and it either makes best friends or enemies (but mostly best friends) with beer drinkers due to its flavor, depth, and a slightly increased alcohol content.

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co., from San Diego, CA
Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale
Bottle, Can, or Draft: 1 Pint Bottle
Flavor Profile: A smooth ale that is darker and richer than most. Full-on hops, but the bitterness is tempered with a caramel sweetness.
User Profile: Arrogant Bastard seems to either have its diehards or those that try it for novelty’s sake. If you’re new to strong ales, share the pint — the high alcohol content and strong flavor means that it’s best enjoyed in smaller quantities.
Occasion: Beer-tasting with friends, a slow night chatting at an uncrowded bar, or a night at home.
Similar Brews: Surly Abrasive Ale

“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Thus reads the beginning of an eloquent yet saucy couple of paragraphs on the back of a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It’s a popular beer on tap at one of my local bars, and I decided to give it try. The bottle certainly intrigued me. Given this beer’s taste (a punch-packing combination of bitter and sweet,) I’d consider it more of a sassy beer than an aggressive one. Arrogant Bastard is perfect for winter time, especially if you’re looking for something that is rich but provides a refreshing change from heavy stouts.

The sweetness is also different; the flavors of winter seem to be stouts with their cream and chocolate, while Arrogant Bastard’s sweetness is more of a caramel-nut flavor. With its dark red-amber hue and thin foam, it is a beautiful beer. It is best served ice cold, and the first sip is pure luxury. (Avoid anything pale after this beer. It tends to make lighter beers seem watery.) The alcohol content is high at 7.2%. You definitely don’t want to chug this beer down, (and you probably can’t) but it takes a certain type of beer lover to drink Arrogant Bastard in large quantities.

It’s hard to know what to pair with this ale. Heavy food can easily get overwhelming with a strong ale. If you’re lucky enough to have the indulgence of enjoying a beer during the day, AB would go well with a lunch-time meal. Try this sandwich, as the lightness would probably balance out the hops. If you do want to pair it with dinner, try a minimally-sauced dish that won’t compete with the “aggressive” flavor.A dish with citrus will brighten up this ale’s heaviness.

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Food, Recipe

Chicken Adobo with Millet

adobochicken

I love coconut. My favorite candy as a child was Mounds, and when those weren’t around my parents sometimes caught me eating frozen shredded coconut out of a bag in the freezer. Freshman year, I met my half-Thai roommate who introduced me to the wonders of mango and sweet coconut sticky rice. Recently, I was craving coconut, but wanted it in something savory. This recipe caught my eye, as I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients that seemed atypical of my perception of “adobo.” I love that it uses chicken, a cheap, lean meat with infinite potential. If you are constantly looking to diversify common foods, such as chicken, this is the dish for you. This recipe’s uncanny blend of sweet coconut milk, tangy red wine vinegar, and salty soy results in an indulgent adobo sauce that complements the meat…

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Food, Musing

Those you love

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Blame our silly culture for making Valentine’s Day all about one type of love. It seems that everything I read, especially concerning food, groups people into two categories: the single and the taken. (Sounds like a dramatic movie title!) If you are in a relationship, you’re given recipes for cute dinners and desserts for two. If you’re single, you’re supposed to live it up or sob into a tub of ice cream. I’ve seen some awful blog posts along the lines of,  “Single Valentine’s Day means that now you can eat all the fatty, messy food you’ve always wanted without having to worry about a boyfriend seeing!”

Let’s just skip all that nonsense, shall we? Don’t let Valentine’s Day suck you in. There’s a reason a lot of people actually hate the holiday and I think it’s because we define it so narrowly.

I’m a firm believer in the notion that you should be thinking about what you’re putting into the world just as much as you think about what you’re getting out of the world. Dating someone? Valentine’s Day is always a nice day to spend quality time with someone. But it’s also a day to appreciate other people besides your significant other. Single? Don’t mope or be “ashamed” like you might feel you need to. There are people in your life that you probably overlook. When’s the last time you went out of your way to do something for a friend? When’s the last time you told a sibling you loved them? Make other people feel special and you’ll feel special too–special, and grateful that you have such an amazing, diverse group in your life.

Maybe make them some caramel sea salt chocolate pretzel bark.

Maybe mail them a letter. Give them a call.

The way I see it, Hallmark-constructed holiday or not, there really is no reason to completely hate Valentine’s Day. Not if it’s a day where you look outward.

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Food, Recipe

Black bean red quinoa burger

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February in Minnesota and we have no snow on the ground. I repeat, no snow. It’s a miracle I haven’t witnessed in four years of living here, and yet senior year here I am enjoying a relatively warm, snow free winter. Thanks mother nature. We owe ya one.

Sophomore year was a particularly bad winter and yet my roommate and I discovered the wonders of all-you-can-heat, aka “tuition is paying for unlimited heating, so who’s to stop me from cranking this up full blast?” No one could enter our room without sweating. We had it hot in there 24/7. We wore t-shirts and shorts and used my blender to make smoothies and milkshakes. It prevented us from going completely insane once we stepped outside. “I feel like I’m being oppressed,” I moaned pitifully when I opened the door to the bitter cold.

In short, summer food in winter is excellent. These red quinoa black bean burgers are excellently excellent. They are more like winter-summer burgers, with lots of protein and hearty quinoa. These aren’t your average soggy veggie burger, the kind that make meat-eaters look upon vegetarians with pity in their eyes. They’re hearty, smoky and crisp. They hold their own and don’t fall apart. Topped with red onions, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, I would highly recommend this burger recipe.

Black Bean Red Quinoa Burgers

Inspired by Everyday Road to Healthy

This recipe makes about 16 because I cook dinner for a lot of people, so adjust accordingly for smaller numbers. It should halve well.

1.5 cups red quinoa
Olive oil
Sea salt
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
12 oz jar assorted roasted peppers
Burger seasoning packet
3 cans black beans
2-3 tablespoons Soy sauce/Tamari
1.5 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Prepare quinoa like one would rice: bring one part quinoa and two parts water to a boil (so three cups water,) add a teaspoon of olive oil and a dash of salt. Reduce heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed. Set aside.

Chop up onions and dice garlic: add both to a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add jar of peppers and seasoning pack. Rinse and drain beans, add them to the saucepan. Stir until combined and add soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Cook until liquid is reduced and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375.

Add 2/3 of the quinoa to the saucepan mixture. Using a blender, food processor, or emulsion blender, blend the mixture in small quantities, until it resembles a paste or thick soup. Stir in remaining quinoa as well as whole wheat flour until well combined.

Grease a cookie sheet and use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop out burger mixture onto sheet. Shape in a circle and pat down flat– burgers should be around 1″ thick. For juicier burgers, make thicker– be aware these are harder to flip.

Bake for 20 minutes in the oven. Flip once and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove with spatula and serve with your favorite fixings.

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Food, Musing

the first meal of the day

What do you like to eat for breakfast? Do you like to eat breakfast?

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It’s probably because it can go both ways–sweet or savory. I love eating at the beginning of the day when everything is fresh, the morning is bright, there’s a paper to read and tea to drink.

Lately I’ve been excited to wake up every morning to my giant bowl of oatmeal, with generous amounts of berries and apples, spices, a pinch of sea salt, and almond milk. One of my friends swears by toast, jelly, and eggs-over-easy.

I think what I love most about breakfast is its simplicity. The best breakfasts are breakfasts in bed, breakfasts made by someone else, fresh breakfasts, hearty breakfasts. Diners with a familiar mix of eggs, hash browns, and bacon. Pancakes the size of your head smothered in fake syrup. Everything hits the spot. And there you are, thinking of the day to come, treating yourself to a little optimism and sunlight. This isn’t fancy. This isn’t a four-hour French meal. There’s nothing holding you back from sitting there in your underwear. It’s breakfast. The most important meal of the day–if only because it’s the most unassuming meal of the day.

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