Friday, August 31, 2012

Firewater Friday - Strawberry Dream

This is a cocktail of my own invention made with infused spirits of my own making.  Of course, you can substitute commercially infused vodkas . . . but it's oh so much more satisfying to make your own.  Unless of course you can't take the wait.

Strawberry Dream

1 Shot Vanilla Infused Vodka
2 Shots Strawberry Infused Vodka
   (1 Part Strawberry Vodka to 1/2 Part Simple Syrup to equal 2 Shots)
4 Ounces Orange Juice

Pour vodkas in a shaker filled with ice and give a quick shake shake shake.  

Strain over a rocks glass filled with ice.  Fill glass with orange juice and stir.  

Garnish with a strawberry and drink up the deliciousness.
Print Recipe

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Brew Thursday - City Steam Innocence

Recently I wrote a post about a bunch of beers I had sampled.  Two of which were from a Connecticut brewery in Hartford called City Steam.

The brewery commented that if I liked those I should try another of their beers . . . "She's an IPA by the name of "Innocence" and you will never forget your first. " City Steam

It just so happens that my favorite beer store had this particular beer so I confidently snagged a six pack to enjoy over the weekend.  And, enjoy it I did.  In fact, I liked Innocence even better than the other two . . . Naughty Nurse and Blonde on Blonde . . . and I really liked those.

First of all . . . the label is pretty cute. Front and center is a slightly nerdy, kinda sexy Velma Dinkley (of Scooby Doo fame) look-a-like. Jinkies! 

I popped open a nice cold one and was immediately impressed by the rich reddish gold color.  It poured a thick head that dissipated fairly quickly but left behind a good amount lacing that hugged the side of the glass.  

It looked nice but how did it taste?  Mmm . . . quite good indeed.

Innocence is and American style IPA that has a caramel apple thing going on followed by a citrus and earthy hoppiness that I expect from an IPA.  It is an interesting combination of flavors and even more enticing is how they build in your mouth. It's like the sweetness is almost there and then it's like hey what just happened??  But in a good way!  Just as it seemed  the sweetness was going hit full on the hops took over and washed it away with a pleasant bitterness.   It finished clean and crisp . . . and left me wanting more.  So, I had another one.  Who am I to deny Innocence?

All-in-all I give Innocence a hearty two thumbs up.  Not too sweet, not too bitter . . . just right, very nice.  I would have drank the whole six by myself but my hubby insisted on having some too.  The nerve!  Personally, I think he just wanted to fondle the babe on the label but he'd never admit it.

Ah . . . the end of the Innocence.  

For more information about City Steam Brewery's Beer and Cafe visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Hero

My husband is awfully sweet and generally very considerate . . . sometimes he gets distracted, though.  He always holds a door open for me, makes sure to open the car door when I’m getting in and tells me how much he loves me at the end of every telephone conversation.  But never more so than the other day when he ran out of the house to rescue me the other day half naked . . . thank goodness he had the sense to put on a pair of pants . . . when I called him crying because I dislocated my ankle.

Because he is so thoughtful, I have to be careful in some otherwise innocuous daily happenstances.

For example, I had to move some computer equipment from one office building to another.  I recruited the help of one of the company’s maintenance men and a company van.  It’s uncommon for me to ride in a car vehicle with anyone other than my sweet, adorable hubby.  So, because of this, I actually paused for a second, expecting the maintenance to hold open the van door for me.  That was SO not happening and would have been pretty embarrassing if he had.

Even more awkward would be if I ended a telephone conversation with a collegue at work with “I love you”.  Don’t laugh, I’ve had to stop myself because MOST of my conversations DO end that way . . . I rarely talk on the phone and when I do it’s USUALLY with my hunny bunny.

Would anyone else come running to my aid if I sprained my ankle . . . surely they would.  But I doubt that they would display the same intensity of emotion that my husband did the other day when he came to save me.

He’s my hero!

On a side note . . . I wonder if I can get him to wear this?  

Buffalo Chicken Burger

Buffalo Chicken Burger 

1 Lb Ground Chicken
1/4 Cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 Clove Garlic, Grated
1 Tbsp Red Onion, Grated
1/4 Cup Franks Hot Sauce
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or
Salt and Pepper
Oil Spray
2 Slices Thick Slices Smoked Gouda
2 Slices American Cheese
2 Kaiser Rolls

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Makes two 8-ounce burgers.

Heat a large skillet on high heat (I use my George Foreman Grill). When hot, lightly spray the oil. Add burgers to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Cook on one side until browned 4-5 minutes, then flip. Cook another 4 minutes or until burgers are cooked all the way through (keep heat medium-low to prevent burning).  8 minutes on the Foreman grill.

In the meantime, place cheese slices on each side of the buns and place under broiler to melt.  

Place burger on bun and top with additional hot sauce if desired.

Print Recipe

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stinky Pinky

My mind must be in the gutter. 

I was Googling something other day and found this meme 


My first thought was Stinky Pinky?  Ew!  

I thought it had something to do with stick a finger . . . namely a pinky finger . . . here 


An ex-boyfriend used to do that to me all the time . . . don't ask!

Turns out I couldn't be further from the truth. Go finger . . . er . . . go figure.

As it so happens, Stinky Pinky is a game; a word game to be precise.  Really!  Who knew?

It is a game in which one player says a phrase.  Then the other player has to come up with a rhyme that means the same thing as the clue.

For example: Smelly Finger = Stinky Pinky

Yeah, just like that.  

Is there an app for that?  Why yes!  Yes, there is!  

I downloaded it onto my Kindle Fire.  It's relatively amusing.

It's true what they say.  You do learn something new everyday.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 3/4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Pound Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast, Cut Into Strips
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
5 Cups Cut-Up Vegetables (whatever you like)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Garlic
4 Cups Hot Cooked Rice, Cooked Without Salt

Mix cornstarch, broth and soy.

Add olive oil and garlic to a nonstick pan and heat 1 minute. Add chicken and stir-fry until browned. Remove chicken.

Add vegetables, ginger and stir-fry until tender-crisp.

I did one with peppers, onions and peas and another with onions, zucchini and peas.  

Stir cornstarch mixture and add. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens. 

Return chicken to skillet and heat through. Serve over rice.

Print Recipe

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can you smell that smell?

At the office where I work there is a very nice man who comes twice a week to empty the garbage cans and recycle bins.  He’s very pleasant . . . always a “Hello.” And a “How are you?”

I DO have a problem with him, however.  His cologne.  His stinky, over powering cologne. **GAG**

When he first started here several months ago he was wearing something that smelled suspiciously like baby powder.  Should a grown man really be wearing baby powder scented anything? I can’t stand that smell.   That was bad enough, but tolerable. 

More recently he changed to something different.  And it seems that he doesn’t simply dab a little behind his ears or spritz a little on his neck.  Oh no . . . my goodness, then it wouldn’t be so god awful overpoweringly reeky.  

What he wears now smells like some bizarre combination of urine and patchouli . . . I kid you not!  It assaults the olfactory and lingers for hours after he leaves.  

From what I understand, patchouli in men’s colognes is used to attract women . . . it’s supposedly is reminiscent of a man’s natural scent.  Some sort of aphrodisiacal response from the babes.  A date night perfume, as it were.

Well, let me tell you . . . this one doesn’t do it for me (or my co-worker for that matter).  It is yucky-mc-ducky!

AND . . . is it really work place appropriate to be wearing a scent that is (theoretically) a chick magnet?  In this case, I guess it’s okay because it is really and truly a repellent! 

Just sayin’.

Lick-the-Plate-Clean Chicken

Lick-the-Plate-Clean Chicken

This chicken has got it all going on . . . sweet, savory, tangy.  You'll be tempted to lick the plate once the chicken is all eaten up . . . oh, go ahead, no one is looking!

1 1/2 - 2 Lbs Chicken Parts
1/2 Cup Dijon or Rustic Mustard 
1/4 Cup REAL Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400ºF. 

Place chicken into an oven-proof baking dish. I used boneless, skinless thighs and chicken breasts. Season chicken with your favorite seasoned salt and pepper. 

In a small bowl, mix together mustard, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Pour mixture over the the chicken, turning each piece to fully coat.

Place the chicken into the preheated oven, and let bake for 40 minutes; baste after 20 minutes. 

After 40 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and baste again with the sauce.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Print Recipe

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Canning beans . . . what happened?

My garden has been offering up a bounty of green beans.  Consequently, I've been canning a lot of beans . . . water pack, dilly beans, spicy pickled beans.  

This is my first year growing and canning beans, so this is all new to me.  I'm not new to canning but I am newish to pressure canning.  I was surprised when I noticed that in some of my jars a lot of the water had boiled out.  Why is that?  

Well . . . it's my own fault.  My impatience and inexperience . . . thankfully the beans sealed up okay and they will keep okay but will probably discolor due to the lack of liquid. 

According to the Presto (manufacturer of pressure canners) FAQ on pressure canning this is what causes jars to lose liquid during processing . . . 

• Jars were packed too solidly with food or were overfilled. Allow 1/2-inch headspace for all fruits and tomatoes, and 1-inch headspace for vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood. This is necessary since food expands during canning.
• Exhaust period was insufficient.

• Pressure regulator on the weighted gauge canner rocked vigorously during processing. It should maintain a slow, steady rocking motion.
• An unsteady heat source or steam leakage caused a fluctuation of pressure during processing.
• Removing or bumping the pressure regulator before pressure has completely dropped. Pressure should always drop of its own accord.
• Uneven pressure from rapid temperature changes or drafts blowing on the canner.
• Lids were not adjusted according to manufacturer’s directions.
• Failure to precook food before packing in jars thus allowing shrinkage to occur in the jar. It is especially important to preheat fruit.
• Failure to allow the canner to remain closed for 10 minutes after pressure has completely dropped.

What I did was the last one . . . I didn't  know that the canner should remain closed for 10 minutes after releasing pressure.  I thought that once the pressure was at zero it was safe to open the canner and remove the jars.  So, now I know better and the next time I can beans they'll be perfect   . . .   I hope.  :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cold Packed Canned Green Beans

Canning green beans is just about as easy as growing them.  They are a great starter crop for a new gardener and they are also a good vegetable to learn how to pressure can with.

Green beans . . . water packed . . . must be pressure canned due to their low acidity.  

Green beans can be either hot packed or cold packed.  I prefer cold (raw) packed green beans because I will be using them in recipes and they will be less cooked than if I were to hot pack them.  It's also less work up front.

Equipment you will need:

Pressure Canner (I use an All American model 915. An excellent canner, by the way!)
Pint or quart canning jars (quart jars are more economical but for me pint jars are a good serving size so that's what I use for beans.)
Large spoons and ladles
Lids and Rings
Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
Lid lifter
1 small pot to sanitize the lids
Jar funnel

I've been told you don't need to sanitize the jars before pressure canning; however, I think it's a good practice . . . better to be safe than sorry.

Sanitizing the jars kills any fungus and bacteria to prevent spoilage.  You can use the dishwasher for this if you have an extra hot or sanitize cycle, but you can boil them in the canner while your prepping your beans, which is what I usually do.

If you're using the canner, fill the jars with water and place them in the canner.  Then fill the canner with water  until it is over the tops of the jars and bring to a boil.  You will only need about 3 inches of water for the actual canning process but you can dump out the excess water before you put in your filled jars.  Otherwise, fill the canner about half full and bring to a boil.

Put the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes.  

Wash beans in cold water and snap or cut them to the desired size . . . I typically cut mine into 2-inch pieces because they fit nicely into the jar.  

Pack the jars tightly with the raw cut beans.  I add a bit of salt into each of the jars . . . use kosher or canning salt NOT table salt.  

Cover with boiling water leaving 1-inch head space.

After your jars have been filled you will need to remove air bubbles by running a utensil down inside the jar between the jar and the beans  . . . a plastic knife or rubber spatula works well for this.
Wipe the rims of your jars clean then top the jars with the canning lids and rings. 

Place filled jars in a pressure canner.  Bring the water to a boil and put the lid on and lock it down.  Vent the canner for 10 minutes.

After venting, start your timer for the processing time - 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts.

Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude in Feet
Dial Gauge Canner
Weighted Gauge Canner

If you live above 1000 feet elevation you need to figure your altitude adjustments canning. As your altitude goes above 1000 feet above sea level the atmospheric pressure is reduced. This causes water to boil at temperatures lower than 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

For safety in water bath canning you must bring the contents of your jar to at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for the temperature difference you must increase processing time.

The pressure canner is also affected by atmospheric pressures. A pressure canner must reach a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit in order to stop botulism. To compensate for altitude differences, you must increase the amount of pressure used. The time does not change, only the pressure used.

Once processing time is up, vent the canner to release the pressure.  Make  sure the pressure gauge is down to zero before removing the lid.

Place the jars in a draft free area and leave undisturbed for at least twelve hours.  At that point, you can remove the rings.  Test to make sure the jars are sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid.  If isn't sucked down then put the jar in the fridge and use as soon as possible.

Otherwise, place your jars in a cool dark place for storage.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Firewater Friday . . . Great balls of fire!

Once a week hubby and I go out for a date night.  This typically consists of getting all googly eyed at each other over good hot wings and cheap cold beer.  Hey, what can I say . . . we're not classy but we have fun together.

This week was a little different.  Oh, there were plenty of wings and a big pitcher of beer . . . and googly eyeballing . . . to be sure.  But I saw a drink special above the bar I simply had to try.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Shooter!  

Our lovely server . . . brought over a little shaker . . . shake shake shaking it all the way . . . and a shot glass. 

She placed the glass in front me and pour a thick, cold, amber liquid into.   The enticing aroma of warm cinnamon wafted forth.  Drooool!

If you thought I wasted any time tasting it you'd be dead wrong.

Goodness gracious great balls of fire!  That stuff is GOOD!

If you're not a whisky drinker fear not . . . this tasted like no other whisky I've ever had.  There is no whisky flavor nor is there any whisky burn.   All that you taste is a Fireball . . . you remember those round red penny candies from when you were a kid?  Yup . . . just like that!

Seriously dangerous stuff.  And, oh my oh so yummy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How does my garden grow . . . stop thief!!

My goodness . .. drama at the garden.

Hubby and I were hanging out in our living room reading when we heard over the police scanner that someone was caught stealing produce from the community garden we we have our plot!  

One of the gardeners showed up to work on his plot when he was approached by a man . . . with child in tow . . . and was asked, "are there any peppers here?" and then they started taking stuff from someone's  garden.  A garden he knew wasn't theirs.  So, he called the police.

The gardener tried to explain the community garden was, but they didn't seem to care. Hello?  No trespassing signs posted everywhere . . . mean anything to you?  No, I guess not!

These people were from the next town over and didn't have a plot there.  The officer spoke with them and told them to stay away.  They got a $105 ticket for trespassing. 

One person with them said she didn't know it was private, she took bags of stuff last year.  I think the fact that they took off running after dropping the food was a good indicator that they knew that they were stealing.

The person who caught them donated the veggies to a local food kitchen because they had taken a lot and he didn't know who all it belonged to and he didn't want to take it.  I agree that was a good decision.

So, I was laid up since that day with a sprained ankle (and hubby with an eye infection) so I hadn't been able to get over there until today.  I can say with a fair amount of certainty that these people didn't go into my garden because the gate was closed up just like I left it.  However, there was only ONE ripe tomato which leaves me to believe that that probably swiped what they could reach from outside the fence.  I should have a whole bunch of ripe ones after 5 days!

But, I did get a big ol' bucket of green beans and some peppers . . . so all is not lost.  Amazing considering the damage the bugs are doing to my bean plants.

Oh, and I spotted an animal that was either a very large brown rat or a small kangaroo making its way up the path.  Ew!

The Winchester . . . a beer lovers paradise

This post is as much about the location as it is about the beer.  Probably even more so.

Recently, hubby and I went to New England Brewing Company’s Final Friday which is basically an event where they open up the brewery to the public allowing them to check out the facilities and sample their beer.

After we had sampled our three beers and enjoyed the party we decided we hadn’t had our fill . . . a sampling of those yummy beers only served to wet our appetite.

Almost directly across the street from the brewery is the Winchester Restaurant and Bar.  It’s a nice little restaurant with a big beautiful bar and an amazing beer list.  I'm pretty sure they serve food . . . just kidding, they do.  We didn't eat much but the wings were good.  The bartender was pretty rockin', too!

If you're ever in the neighborhood be sure to stop in for a pint or so . . . you won't be disappointed.

There were so many beers to try it was difficult to know where to start.  But we worked it out.  We were sharing so don't freak that there are so many beers on this list.  

Mother's Milk by Keegan Ales.  This was by far one of the finest stouts I've ever had the pleasure to consume . . . that's saying something as I am not a huge fan of stouts. It was smooth and creamy and remarkably delicious.  It could almost be a cookie . . . chocolate and oats . . . a liquid beery cookie.  Remarkable!  Apparently hubby thought so too, I think he drank most of it! (5% ABV)

Friars Quad by New England Brewing.  As the name implies it is a very strong beer (10.2% ABV).  It is a rich, deep red Belgian style ale.  It is very malty with hints of fruit, strong without being boozy and it has a pleasant yeastiness.  Really quite good and tasty.  It disappeared pretty quickly from my glass . . . again I believe hubby to be the culprit.

1687 Brown Ale by Charter Oak Brewing.  Another local-to-me brewing company but this is the first taste I've had of their beer.  This is an American style brown ale.  It was slightly sweet with caramel and chocolate undertones.  Toasty malts prevail with a surprising hoppiness that adds a fine complexity and creates a wonderful flavor. A worthy flagship beer.  (5.5% ABV)

Black IPA by Otter Creek Brewing.  As the name indicates it is a dark beer . . . almost stouty with roasted malt and caramel flavors but most definitely IPAish with a lot of hoppy bitterness.  If you're a fan of stouts and IPAs and are having a hard time deciding which to drink . . . you can have the best of both worlds with this beer.  Awesomeness in a glass!! (6% ABV)

Duvel by Duvel Moortgat.  This an imported Belgian strong pale ale.   It is a bubbly fruity ale . . . not sweet as it is balanced out by the hops.   Don't get me wrong it is not overly bitter but the hoppy floral notes compliment and accentuate the orange, apple(?) and honey flavors.  An interesting beer, very tasty. (8.5% ABV) 

Taddy Porter by Samuel Smith.  A true English beer.  It is dark and frothy, smooth and delicious.  A really good porter with lots of caramel and toffy undertones along with my favorite . . . dark chocolate.  It's smooth and creamy with just the right amount of carbonation.  Again a really good dark beer . . . am I being turned to the dark side?  Maybe.  This was really, really good! (5% ABV)

Naughty Nurse by City Steam Brewery.  City Steam is pretty local to me but this is the first time I've had their beer.  Okay . . . who doesn't like a naughty nurse? Apparently, a lot of people do like Naughty Nurse because it's their best selling beer.  It is an amber ale that is easily drinkable.  It's crisp and refreshing . . . a little hoppy with hints of fruit.  It is a nice light beer that you can kick back and enjoy on a fine summer day.  (5% ABV)

Blonde on Blonde by City Steam Brewery.  It sounds like a porno but it's not.  It's actually a nice, tasty hoppy brew that is much more to my liking (more so than a pile of blonde chicks getting it on).  It's got the strong citrussness (is that a word?) that I love so much in hopped up brews.  It's light and smooth . . . it kind of goes right down (again and again and again).  I've had hoppier but I'm not complaining. This was a damn fine beer!  Delish! (6% ABV)

Scrumtrulescent by New England Brewing.  What's in a name?  Do I read scrumptious in there?  Sort of?  Maybe.  This was yummy!  This is a saison or farmhouse style ale.   It is a nice summer beer . . . a little spicy, slightly fruity . . . overall a light, flavorful and too drinkable brew.   (5.6% ABV) 

If you're at the Winchester be sure to stop by New England Brewing and grab a growler or two!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wait . . . did he really just say that? Yes . . . yes he did.

I work in the IT department for my company.  Most often the challenge of my job comes in the form of troubleshooting hardware or software issues, server maintenance, system administration and erradicating viruses.  Sometimes, however, I face much more difficult challenges.  Often I am forced to confront questions that defy logic and require a strength of will to simply make it through the moment.

Yesterday I was working on converting a 10 year old database into a format that would work with the latest and greatest version of the software platform it was originally designed to run on.  This wasn't the nearly as difficult as it might seem . . . it's all fairly automated.

The challenge came in the form of a man.  A man standing in front my desk knocking on my partition waiting ever so impatiently for me to acknowledge his presence.

This man recently got a brand spankin' new computer . . . again the latest and greatest.  He had no issues with the upgrade, nor had he any questions on the operation of the new computer.  No . . . his problem had to do with the desktop wallpaper . . . he didn't like it.  Not only did he not like the image on his desktop but he didn't like any of the other options available to him.

He wanted to know if it was okay to download prettier ones from the internet.  My answer . . . no.  You see, he wanted to go to a website offering "free" desktop wallpaper and themes.  My experience?  If it's free on the internet it's probably not "free".  This is where a lot of the virus, spyware, malware and trojan infections come from . . . which is part of the daily challenge of the job.

I thought to myself, "How in the world  could this be so important?"  I mean, he interrupted real work to ask me a question about something so frivolous.

So I asked him, "How much time do you really spend looking at your computer desktop?"

His reply was incredible . . . not surprising, but incredible, "Quite a lot, actually."  

Then he thought about what he said for a second and then said, "I guess that tells you how much work I actually do."

Wait . . . did he really just say that?  Yes . . . yes he did.

It makes sense because I've often seen him just staring at his screen.  I guess he really does spend a lot of time looking at his computer desktop wallpaper.  And there I was thinking he was actually focused on his work.  Silly me!

If you're wondering, the challenge in this particular situation was to keep myself from face palming, cracking up and/or telling him I had real work to do.

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

A light refreshing summer lasagna.  My 15 year old son said that the "tomatoes were a nice touch".  WOW! High praise!

Olive Oil, For Baking Dish
8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Container (15 Ounces) Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
Coarse Salt And Ground Pepper
2 Medium Zucchini (8 Ounces Each), Halved Lengthwise, Then Sliced Thinly Crosswise
3 Or 4 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced Thin
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
6 No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. 

In another medium bowl, combine zucchini, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

Spread 1/3 zucchini mixture in prepared baking dish; top with tomatoes slices.  Layer with two lasagna noodles, then 1/3 ricotta mixture and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Repeat twice with remaining zucchini mixture, tomatoes, noodles, and ricotta mixture, finishing with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil; bake until bubbly and noodles are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Hint:  spray the foil with cooking spray before laying on top of the cheese to prevent it from sticking.

Print Recipe

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sea Hag Hopped Up Pickles (Spicy IPA Pickles)

Sea Hag Hopped Up Pickles
(Spicy IPA Pickles)

2 Pounds Small Cucumbers
1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Can Sea Hag IPA (or any good IPA)
2 Tablespoons Pickling Salt OR
3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
8 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
4 Teaspoons Dill Seed
2 Teaspoons Black Peppercorns
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

Cut off the ends of cucumbers.  This is important because there are enzymes in the ends that will soften the pickles . . . i.e. less crispy. 

Cut the cucumbers into quarters, make sure they’re short enough to fit in quart mason jars without sticking up too high.  Pack the cucumbers into the jars

Split the rest of the ingredients between the two jars.

Combine the vinegar, beer, and salt together in a saucepan, heat until just boiled.  Be careful because it will boil over.

Using a ladle, pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers leaving about a 1/4 inch of headspace.

Screw the lid tops on and allow the jars to cool on the countertop.

Shake the jars gently to mix the spices around.  Put them in the fridge and allow the pickles to absorb all the wonderful spices.

After about a week open the jar, take a bite and be completely impressed with your awesome pickling skills!

PS . . . I use New England Brewery Sea Hag cuz it's a rockin' good beer that make seriously rockin' good pickles!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pizza Fries

I discovered a thing called "pizza fries" on a menu of a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the middle of close-to-no-where Pennsylvania.  

This is my attempt to recreate that little taste of heaven.

Pizza Fries
2 Lbs. Frozen French Fries
1 Jar Pizza Sauce
1 Tsp. Oregano
1 Tsp. Basil
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder (To Taste)
1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper (To Taste)
1/4 C. Finely Chopped Red Onion
2 C. Shredded Mozzarella
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese

Bake French fries on two cookie sheets in oven as directed on package.

In a bowl, combine the onion, Mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. In a saucepan combine pizza sauce, oregano, pepper, garlic, and basil (if the pizza sauce is seasoned to your taste, skip the additions), and heat over low heat.  I used Prego Traditional and didn't add anything to it and it was goooooooood!

When the fries are browned and crispy, top with cheese mixture. Return to oven until cheese melts. When cheese is melted, divide up evenly and put on plates. Serve sauce on the side for dipping.

Saucy, melty goodness!

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