Friday, November 30, 2012

Firewater Friday - It's Sexy Thyme

It's Sexy Thyme

2 1/2 Ounces Gin
1 Ounces Thyme Simple Syrup
2 Ounces Tonic Water
1/2 Lime, Juiced
Candied Thyme Sprigs (Garnish)

Thyme Simple Syrup
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Water
8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Candied Thyme Sprigs
Fresh Thyme Sprigs
1/4 Cup Thyme Simple Syrup
1/2 Cup Sugar

Start by making the thyme infused simple syrup.  Combine ingredients in a small pan and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from heat and let cool slowly to room temperature.

Strain out thyme sprigs from syrup and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Then make the candied thyme sprigs by dipping whole sprigs in simple syrup and then toss with sugar. Let dry for at least thirty minutes before using as a garnish.

To make the cocktail: add gin and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

Pour cocktail into a tall glass and top with tonic water. Garnish with candied thyme sprigs.

Print Recipe

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Asahi Super Dry

Hubby and I went out to dinner with family to a Japanese steak house to celebrate a birthday.    This type of restaurant isn't hubby's favorite so, it was an opportunity to eat a  hibachi dinner, drink hot saké and . . . of course . . . try out a new beer.

I love saké and I don't often get an opportunity to drink it.  Saké is usually misclassified as rice wine.  The process of making saké is more akin to how beer is made.  Saké is brewed but the process isn't exactly the same as how beer is made, though.  When saké is brewed the starch to sugar/sugar to alcohol conversion occurs in a single step; as opposed to two like in beer making.  Saké typically has a 15% ABV . . . what's not to like?

Okay . . . enough about my beloved rice beer.

Hubby ordered a bomber sized bottle of Asahi Super Dry.  Asahi Breweries is based in Tokyo, Japan.  I was kind of surprised that Asahi wasn't brewed by an American based macro-brewery.  Why?  Because it tasted an awful lot like a middle-of-the-road mass produced American style beer . . . Bud, Coors, Miller, etc.

Ah . . . mystery solved.  I wasn't too far off.  It turns out that the Asahi beer distributed to North American is brewed in Molson's Vancouver brewery.  There you have it!

I'm not saying I didn't like it.  I'm no beer snob.  I believe every beer doesn't have to be a $15 bottle craft brew to be good.  I love and appreciate those wonderful brews . . . but mass produced beer has it's place and I like it for what it is. 

Asahi is good . . . for what it is.

Asahi tastes pretty much a typical lager.  There's nothing complex about the flavor . . . it's light tasting and slambackable.  Which is to say that it's a good beer to kickback and enjoy after a hot afternoon of mowing the back acre.

Like I said . . . a time and place for every beer.

Oh . . . about that lager thing.  It's interesting to point out that German POWs worked in the Asahi brewery during the war to end all wars (WWI).  It's possible those prisoners had some influence over the brewing process.

Wow . . . a pretty long blog post for a mediocre beer . . . go figure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012



1/2 Cup Dried Italian-Style Bread Crumbs
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley Leaves
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 (1 1/2-Pound) Flank Steak
1 Cup Dry White Wine
3 1/4 Cups Marinara Sauce

Stir the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lay the flank steak flat on the work surface. Pound the meat to flatten it out a bit. 

Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the steak. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle the braciole with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. 

Cover partially with foil and bake until the meat is almost tender, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes. After 1 hour, uncover and continue baking until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer. The total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the braciole from the sauce. Using a large sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve.

Print Recipe

Simple Marinara Sauce

Simple Marinara Sauce

1/2 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
1 Carrot, Chopped
2 (32-Ounce) Cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 16-Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
4 To 6 Basil Leaves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Unsalted Butter, If Needed

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.

Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. I use Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning . . . I use it just about everything . . . I love that stuff!

Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. 

Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to balance out the flavor.

Allow sauce to cool enough so that you can stick a finger in it without burning yourself.

Pour half the tomato sauce into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

You can serve the sauce as it is or if you want to continue cooking with meat then return to pot with meatballs, sausage or whatever and cook until meat is done.

Serve hot with your favorite pasta.  Yum!

Print Recipe

Monday, November 26, 2012

Eat, bite, gobble, nibble, chew

Hubby and I recently returned from a long weekend vacation.  One evening we were lounging in bed . . . me reading and he browsing the Intertubes.  He was also happily munching a snack . . . and it was driving me nucking futz!  Despite being engrossed in my book and all the ambient noise in the room, all I could focus on was his chomping, lip-smacking and slurping.  It was all I could do to contain myself and not roll him onto the floor and throttle the ever loving snot out of him.  I just covered my head with a pillow and did my very best to ignore his infuriating mastication.

Its obvious that it bothered me since I can clearly recall the incident.  Thankfully, no one was injured in the innocent eating of the snack.

It's not just hubby's eating that bothers me; as long as I can remember hearing other people eat his elicited an immediate response . . . rage.  Most times I can control violent urges . . . mostly.

Anyhoo . . . as it turns out, this response to annoying auditory stimuli is an actual disorder called misophonia. 

Hubby already thinks I'm a bit touched . . . perhaps he's right . . . I am mental!  But I conceal it fairly well, I’ll bet he never knew that it makes me crazy to listen to him (or anyone else) eat. 

Misophonia is little known disorder that affects a person's sensitivity to noise. For most people, it is only specific noises that trigger a powerful response.

For me its hearing people eat . . . **shudder** . . . but other people have different noises that set them off.

I work in IT.  One of my many responsibilities is providing for co-workers computer hardware needs.  There was a woman I worked with that was constantly complaining about other people’s keyboards.  She couldn’t stand the sound of other people typing.   Hello?  Working in an office?  People typing?  Yeah, that’s bound to happen.  I ended up having to get everyone in her vicinity silent touch keyboards so I wouldn’t have to listen to her bitch about it anymore.  Little did I know the poor sad woman had a brain disorder.  

My method of self-treatment is simply to serve dinner in the living room and eat while watching television.  But, if we’re eating at the kitchen table I have to have background noise like music playing or the television on to cover up any chewing noises.    Luckily, I have the added benefit of being deaf in one ear.  I can literally “turn a deaf ear” to that which irks me thus sparing hubby and others a sound thrashing.


Quesadillas are a hearty meal that are quick and simple to make.  You can have a delicious dinner plated in five minutes so long as you have the ingredients prepped and ready to go in advance.  

They are one of those things that I generally will not order when going out to eat because I can make them just as well.


Large Flour Tortillas
Shredded Cheese 
Olive Oil Or Grapeseed Oil

Sliced Mushrooms
Green Onions
Black Olives, Sliced
Fresh Tomatoes, Diced
Chicken Pieces
Chopped Chilis

Heat a large cast iron frying pan to medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula . Take one large flour tortilla and place it in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, 10 seconds between flips. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla.

When pockets of air begin to form, take a handful of shredded cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla. Add whatever additional ingredients you like just don't layer on the ingredients to thickly . . . just a dab will do ya.

Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The cast iron pan will retain enough heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. 

After a minute or so, when the cheese is melted, use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side. The tortilla should by now be browned slightly.  Remove from pan and cut into wedges.

Serve with the lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Print Recipe

Friday, November 23, 2012

Firewater Friday - Spiced Rum and Cola

Spiced Rum and Cola

1.5 oz. Spiced Rum
3 Dashes Bitters
5 oz. Cola
1 Lime Wedge

Fill a pint sized glass with ice.  Add the rum and bitters.  Top with cola.  Stir gently to combine.  Add a squeeze from the lime wedge and serve.

Print Recipe

Firewater Friday - Spice Infused Rum

Homemade spiced rum is very easy to make . . . all it requires is time for all the spices to do their magic.  After a couple of minutes of work and two weeks of waiting and you end up with a tasty rum that can't be beat.  

Spice Infused Rum

32 oz. White Rum
2 Cinnamon Whole Sticks 
1 Vanilla Bean
8 - 10 Whole Allspice Berries
8 - 10 Whole Cloves
1 Orange Orange, Zested

When you peel the orange make sure you get only the zest . . . not the pith, which is the white part underneath the skin.

Break the cinnamon stick into pieces but do not grind it up and add to a one quart jar.  Add the rest of the spices and the rum.  

Shake, shake, shake the jar.  Then shake the jar vigorously a couple times a day for two weeks.

The rum will get darker and darker ever day as the spices infuse into the rum.  

Strain the rum into another jar, flask, bottle.  I use a nylon stocking for a filter, but you can use cheesecloth or a coffee filter.  I like the stocking because it stretches over the mouth of the jar or around the lip of a funnel . . . it's far more flexible and easier to use.

Ta da!  Spiced rum!

Print Recipe

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Monks Indiscretion

There are some beers I just have to try . . . usually a trip to the beer store will satisfy a want and sometimes it's pretty hard to get my hands on a bottle.  A west coast beer I've wanted to try for a while is from a small brewery that sells to a limited distribution area . . . luckily Marina Market in Poulsbo, WA is willing to ship beer and other stuff to wherever (for a price).

Monks Indiscretion from Sound Brewery is that beer.  It was recommended by a fellow beer lover and was pretty high on my list of beers to try.

I'm glad I made the effort . . . it was well worth it.

Monks Indiscretion pours a lush golden yellow with a light frothy head.  The beer smells intense and strong . . . there is much promise to the aroma but can the beer deliver? Oh yes . . . yes, it can!  First of all, it is indeed strong with a 10% ABV.  

There are a lot of complex flavors mingling together . . . it tastes tart fruity with yeasty undertones and a bitter hop finish.  It has a boozy quality that makes it almost brandy-ish.

Monks Indiscretion is a sipping beer, something to be savored and enjoyed.  I think it would pair well with simple plate of fruit and cheese or a big honkin' steak.

This is one of those beers I didn't want to have to share, but hubby was sitting right there and it would've been quite rude . . . not to mention detrimental to marital bliss . . .  not to pour him a glass.  

Monks Indiscretion met and exceeded my expectations.  It is truly a remarkable and enjoyable brew . . . really quite amazing.  


Visit Sound Brewing's website or check them out on Facebook.

A view of Deception Pass near the Sound from a visit a few years ago . . . a beautiful place to visit.  Check out Sound Brewery if you're every in the area.

New Brew Thursday - Rogue XS Russian Imperial Stout

The other day we thoroughly enjoyed Rogue's 2011 XS Russian Imperial Stout.  My hubby picked this one out of our horde . . . er . . . stash of craft beers.  And it was a great choice!

First of all, I'd like to comment on the bottle.  It is quite impressive and a fitting vessel for this outstanding brew.   The bottle is a  ceramic bottle painted charcoal black with a swing top stopper.  There is no way light is penetrating this bottle to skunk this brew!  Awesome!

To add a touch my own personal style, I served this beer in a mason jar . . . I'm nothing if not classy. :/

This extra special stout pours dark as pitch with a creamy mocha head.  The aroma is an abundance of coffee and a hint of booziness; at 11% ABV this isn't unexpected.    

Not for the faint of heart nor for the meek beer drinker. This is a BIG . . . nay . . . ginormous beer.  

The first taste . . . I wasn't sure if I was drinking a beer or a coffee.  The big coffee taste is complemented by dark chocolate notes.  It has a clean finish complemented by a bitter hoppiness.  It had a bubbly mouthfeel  and not as creamy as I expect in an imperial stout.  That's not a bad thing, just different from what I anticipated.  

The flavors intensify as it warms . . . as does the burn that accompanies such a high alcohol beer.  It's all good and just gets better.

I am truly impressed.  Gotta love Rogue!

This beer is perfect for anyone who is a fan of coffee and/or stouts.    Outstanding in it's awesomeness.  I give it two thumbs up plus any extras I can find laying around!


Visit Rogue's website or check them out on Facebook. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cider / Beer Brined Pork Chops

These pork chops are flavorful and tender . . . easy to make and simply amazing!  

Cider / Beer Brined Pork Chops

6-8 Pork Loin Chops, Bone-In
2 1/2  Cups Apple Cider (Not Apple Juice)
1 Can Beer (Your Choice)
1/4 C. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Allspice Berries, Cracked But Not Crushed
1 Tsp. Whole Peppercorns, Cracked But Not Crushed
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp. Ground Thyme
Pinch Of Salt And Fresh Ground Pepper 

Combine cider, beer, salt and sugar in a large container and stir until most of the salt is dissolved.   I use a large zip lock bag for marinating.

Add in the peppercorns, allspice and pork chops, making sure the brine covers the pork. 

Allow to marinate for at least an hour before grilling.

Make the glaze by combining the thyme with the oil, vinegar, and honey. Stir to combine.

You can use an indoor grill or an outdoor grill, just make sure that you have enough room to cook indirectly on the grill space over medium heat. 

Remove the pork chops from the brine.  Brush the grill with oil and sear each side of the chops for 2-3 minutes. 

Brush the chops with the glaze on one side, turn over onto indirect heat and cook. Glaze the other side, turn over and finish chops until meat is no longer pink.

Print Recipe

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hot Dog Casserole

I like to cook but there are days when I don't really want to be bothered  . . . and other days when I'm not feeling particularly fancy or inspired . . . sometimes I just want to throw a bunch of ingredients that I have on hand together and call it dinner . . . this is one of those recipes that covers all those bases and it's pretty darned good, too!

Hot Dog Casserole

1/2 Pound Ground Beef
4 Hot Dogs, Cut In Half Lengthwise And Sliced
1 Can (16 Ounces) Baked Beans
1/2 Cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Prepared Mustard
4 Slices American Cheese Chopped
4 Slices American Cheese, Cut Into Strips
1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust

In a large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain off fat.

Add the hot dogs, beans, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and
chopped cheese. 

Cook and stir until cheese is melted.

Roll out the pizza crust and press into a casserole dish.  Prick all over with a fork. 

Bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Fill with hot beef mixture. 

Cut each cheese slice into strips; make a lattice topping over pie. 

Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. 

Print Recipe

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hubby’s Chili

I do most of the cooking in our home.  Its not that hubby can’t cook it’s just that he plays dumb most of the time.  The man can cook it just takes some motivation to get him near the kitchen.

One thing I can usually get him to cook for me . . . once a year, if I’m lucky . . . is chili.  He makes a kickin’ pot of spicy meat and beans.  Yes, I know, real chili shouldn’t have beans but we like it that way . . . and they’re good for the heart.

So, not too long ago I picked up his chili requirements and he made up a batch of his gastronomic goodness.

He asked for the following:

Hubby’s Chili

1 Lb Ground Hot Italian Sausage
1 Lb Ground Beef
2 Green Bell Peppers
1 Red Bell Pepper
6 Jalapenos
1 Head Garlic
2 Onions
4 Cans Of Beans (Variety)
1 Large Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 Two Alarm Chili Kit
1 Small Can Chopped Green Chilis
Franks Red Hot
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Hungarian Hot Paprika
Crushed Red Pepper
Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
Fresh Ground Pepper
Dried Peppers

And, I didn’t stand around and watch him make the chili . . . it was my day off from cooking . . . so I don’t if I know every little thing he did but I can guess.   I’m sure he’ll correct me if I make any mistakes.

He never makes his chili exactly the same way every time so there’s not exact recipe.  But go with the basics and season it to your liking and I’m sure you’ll end up with a great pot of chili.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage.  When the sausage is mostly brown add the ground beef.  Season with Tony Chachere Creole seasoning and Franks Red Hot and brown. Hubby says a pound of bacon cut into small pieces and fried up doesn't suck.   

Drain the fat from the meat and transfer to a large soup pot.  Stir in a small can of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.

Stir in the chili pepper, onion/garlic, cumin oregano, red pepper and paprika packets from the Two Alarm Chili Kit.  Add can of chopped green chiles.

The next part is important, so pay attention . . .

Add the four cans of beans with all the juice from the cans.  The chili kit says to add water but you won’t need to if you use the liquid from the bean cans and you’ll get all of the extra beanie flavor.

Get that stuff simmering.

Chop the peppers, onions and garlic . . . reserving half of them . . . sauté half the vegetables until they start to get soft and brown.  Then transfer to the chili pot.

At this point add whatever additional seasonings you like plus the mesa flour from the chili kit.  I know he adds additional cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, Hungarian hot paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, Tony Chachere Creole seasoning, fresh ground pepper, oregano and dried peppers . . . 

But he doesn’t measure, it’s just to taste.  So do whatever works for you.  I know hubby doesn’t use the salt packet because he adds so much other seasoning it doesn’t really need it.

Simmer the chili for an hour and a half to two hours.  An hour or so before you’re ready to serve the chili add the remaining chopped vegetables.  This adds an fresh flavor and provides nice texture.

Serve over rice, cornbread or pasta . . . top with shredded cheddar or sour cream. 

Note:  If *I* was making this chili I would add a additional can of chopped tomatoes for more tomato-y-ness.  But the chili is really good the way hubby makes it and it's his gig.  There are no complaints here!

Also, other meats or leftover veggies often get tossed in, like salsa, maybe a little corn.  Really, whatever you want.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

One of the best things about having a summer vegetable garden is the fresh, yummy produce.  One of the veggies I always grow is zucchini because it is so easy to grow and produces like crazy.  I got so many this year I was giving them away but not all of the extras found new homes.  I shredded, vacuum sealed and froze a bunch of them.  So, that way I could bake zucchini bread into the colder months with my own home-grown squash.  How cool is that??

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
4 Eggs
2 Cups White Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Cups Grated Zucchini
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually beat in sugar, then oil. 

Add flour mixture alternately with zucchini into the egg mixture. 

Stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and vanilla. 

Pour batter into two 9 x 5 inch greased and lightly floured loaf pans.

Bake on lowest rack of the oven at 350 degrees F for 55 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

Print Recipe 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Firewater Friday - The Prisoner

The Prisoner

1 Part Ginger Liquor
1 ½ Parts Light Rum
1 ½ Parts Pineapple Juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add ginger liquor, rum and pineapple juice.  Give it a good shake.

Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lime into a chilled martini glass. Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass.

Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Print Recipe

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Kona Brewing Wailua Wheat

When I picked up this beer I was looking for something new and something fruity.  Wailua Wheat from Kona Brewing is what we ended up with.

It interested me because I'd never had a beer from this particular brewery before and I'd never had a passion fruit beer.   For that matter, I'd never had a beer brewed in Hawaii.   It was worth a shot.

Wailua Wheat is an American Pale Wheat Ale.  It's perfectly sessionable at 5.4% ABV . . . a good beer for enjoying an afternoon of beer and whatever without getting completely sloshed.

A lot of the beers I drink are unfiltered but if you don't like hazy beer then you'll like this one.  The beer is a clear golden color that smells of wheat, yeast and passion fruit.  It's sweetish but there is a bitter hoppy bite that keeps this beer from being overly sweet.  

I'm not a big fan of the in your face wheatiness of some wheat beers . . . this one is clearly a wheat beer but the flavor blends nicely with the passion fruit and hops so as to not be overpowering.  Wailua Wheat is an interesting and unique tasting beer  . . . I have to say I liked it.  Overall it's pretty good and I would recommend it if you're looking for something different or simply a fan of fruited wheat beer.

Check out Kona Brewing's Website or visit them on Facebook.