Thursday, November 28, 2013


No place better to be than cuddled up on my couch with my precious puppy, contemplating what I'll be eating and DRINKING later on.  Here are some last minute Thanksgiving cooking tips.

1. If your bird is not defrosted yet, do NOT panic.  Open a beer. Stick that bird in a big tub and put it in the sink.  Run some water over until it's defrosted.  Make sure you get the inside, and remove all the gibberish.  Classic restaurant way to defrost fast!

2. Make sure all your beer is in the fridge NOW.  No one likes warm beer.  Except the English.

3. Sides are the best part of T-giving so make sure yours are AWESOME.  Make those mashed potatoes with whole cloves of garlic, and they will be tasty and help boost your immune system.  Which I need because I am fighting a beast of a cold.  Just add peeled garlic cloves to your potatoes when you are ready to boil them, then mash them right in.  Delish, and not at all overwhelming.

4. Pace yourself.  If you are opening up some big guys today (I have a Beerhive from +Brett VanderKamp at New Holland, a special little something from Southern Tier, several Backwoods...) remember they are MUCH higher in alcohol.  No one likes a drunk at the the table.  At least not DURING dinner.  So keep it classy.

5. Pre-whip your cream for your pie and store it in the fridge.  It will last at least 6-8 hours in there, and you won't have to do it later.

Hope you all have an amazing day with your family and friends!  Let the tryptophan induced coma commence!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Like I even need to say anything else...but I WILL give you some awesome recipes to help you actually incorporate MORE beer into your diet.  The key to cooking with beer, I feel, is to always pick a NON-hoppy beer, and to reduce it down.  This concentrates the sugars in the beer, and makes it easier to add lots of flavor, without really changing the composition of the recipe.

First up, a nice vegetable side dish.  Delicata are awesome, cause you don't have to peel them.  Just slice, scoop out the seeds and fry in some olive oil.  Top it with a fresh, crunchy apple fennel relish and all is right with the vegetarians.  

Squash with Fennel and Apple Relish
2 Delicata squash
olive oil

 Slice the ends off of the squash. Slice into 1/2" rings and remove the seeds with a spoon. 
Lightly salt the squash and let sit for 30 minutes. Completely dry off with paper towels, removing the salt. Heat enough oil to coat a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add them to the pan. They should sizzle the moment they hit the pan. Don't crowd them or they'll steam more than they'll brown. Saute until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side).
Fennel and Apple Relish

 1 crisp apple, peeled, seeded, very small dice
 1fennel bulb, outer layer removed, very small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (if you want)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Bragg's apple cider vinegar
1 cup Beehive Ale from New Holland, reduced in a saucepan to 1 Tablespoon
salt and pepper

Mix all the relish ingredients together and season well with salt and pepper.  Serve the relish sprinkled over the squash.

For the turkey, make it however you normally do.  I rub mine with herb butter, under the skin.  This year I took the infamous +Founders Brewing Co. Backwoods Bastard, reduced it down, and then basted the turkey with it the last 15 minutes.  It picked up the bourbon notes, and made an awesome gravy.  Plus, then you'll have three more to drink.

The pie really turned out amazing, thanks to the winter pack from +ShortsBrewingCompany .  Reduce the Gingersnap and add it to your pie like you would vanilla extract. KICK ASS.  I've now had a 3/4 of the pie for breakfast.  No, you can't have any. Make your own.

Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:
2 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 egg yolks
2 tBLS cream

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour and sugar and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Mix the yolks and cream together in a small cup and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until a dough forms.  Remove the dough from the machine and form into a disk.  Wrap well in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle your work area with some more flour.  Place a disk on the work surface, sprinkle with more flour and gently roll out the dough to fit the pie or tart pan.  Press into place.  Prick the tart with a fork and place back in the freezer for half an hour, or up to 24 hours.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375,  Par bake the pie crust for abut 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Time the baking of the crust with the making of the filling because you want to add hot filling to a hot crust.

For the filling:
1 bottle Short's Gingersnap Ale
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs

Place the beer in a saucepan and reduce down until very thick and syrupy.  Meanwhile, mix all the rest of the ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of the reduced beer to the pumpkin and whisk well.   Heat the filling up until just hot.  Pour the hot filling into the hot crust and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center if jiggly like jello and the edges are firm.  Cool for at least an hour.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recipes for Parsnip Soup and Beet Salad

I forgot to take pictures when I was on the air the other morning.  Morning television goes QUICK, and before you know it, your three minutes (and six hours of work) are up.  Both of these recipes are kick ass for T-Giving.  Soup is a great way to fill up in a low fat style.  Add an onion confit topping made with +Greenbush Brewing Co  Unicorn Killer and it is above and beyond.  Salads are just great.  Add some roasted beets and some local goat cheese from Dancing Goat Farm, and you are set. You can thank me later.

Amy Sherman's Parsnip Soup 

For the soup:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups slivered onions
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped (or a mix of root veggies)
8 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cream
squeeze of lemon

In a soup pot, heat up the olive oil and add the onions.  Cook, stirring, until brown.  Add the parsnips and continue to cook, for another 5-8 minutes.  Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste.  Add more stock or water, just enough to make sure the veggies are covered. Simmer the soup until t he parsnips are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the cream.  Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth, season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Add a little lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

For the topping:
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon  honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup malty beer, or a pumpkin ale

Heat a skillet over medium heat. and cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain off most of the fat.  Add the onion and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat, and season with salt and pepper, and add the spices and honey.   Cook for a few minutes, then deglaze with the beer.  Cook until the onions are soft and sweet, about 15 minutes.  Serve the soup topped with the confit.

Amy Sherman's Roasted Beet Salad

To roast beets:
about 2# red beets (3-4 large)
about 2# yellow beets (3-4 large)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wrap the red beets in foil, and the yellow beets in foil and place both packages on a sheet tray in the oven.  Roast until tender.  This can take between one hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the beets.  Let the beets cool.  When cool enough to handle, slip of the skins and discard. Separately cut the beets into a large dice and put in separate bowls.  This can be done the day before, just store the beets in the fridge until ready to use.

For the salad:
4 cups lettuce
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

1 large shallot, minced
3 TBLS rice wine vinegar 
1 TBLS dijon mustard
1 tsp coriander, toasted and ground
1/4 cup extra virgin oil (or pistachio oil if you’ve got it)
salt and pepper

To make the salad dressing, combine the shallot with the vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the mustard, coriander,and then whisk in the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour a few tablespoons over each bowl of beets and stir well.  Toss the greens with some of the dressing.  Top with the beets, crumble the goat cheese, and sprinkle the nuts over the top.  Drizzle more viniagrette over the salad, if you would like.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dark Horse Brewery

Trying to kick out my individual reviews of all the breweries who made the best of the best for the  Best Brewery search with +John Gonzalez .  Obviously, this is Dark Horse!

You can check them out here:

You can check out +Bryan Wiggs here:

I might be playing favorites, but I love Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall.  +Aaron Morse ,  his intrepid wife Kristine, and Wiggs are incredible people.  Aaron seriously never turns his brain off, it is constantly clicking through new ideas, new ventures, new beers.  Kristine keeps him on track, and makes these ideas a reality.  Wiggs, one of my favorite brewers, keeps the whole brewing operation on track, keeping one of the biggest breweries in Michigan humming along.

Our server, Hannah, was awesome, ready to explain anything that Wiggs, Aaron and Kristine forgot.  We got to tour the brewery, and this place is awesome.  You know you are in the presence of greatness when the tool shop is almost as big as the brewery itself...almost.  But these guys are welding, tightening, all the time.  They have hand built this brewery, custom making many of the systems they have there.  And it is quite a production facility.  18,000 barrels this year, they can bottle 140 bottles a minute.  Big time.

None of this would matter if the beer wasn’t good.  It’s better than good, it’s great.  The flagship Crooked Tree IPA is one of the most drinkable, smooth IPA’s I’ve had.  At the pub, it’s pulled off fresh from the tap, and it is creamy, fresh, cloudy and awesome.  A total revelation, and reason alone to visit the pub.   Reserve Special Black Ale, kicking in at 8%, it’s the first beer DH put into production.  It still drinks like a champ.  Scary Rock Star Jesus, one of the best names ever for a beer (and look up the story when you have time) was absolutely  awesome.  A shit ton of fresh apricots and then a chamomile tea infusion make one hell of a summer beer.

Working with a pizza oven, the DH kitchen works with what it has.  The point of the food is to keep It simple and fresh.  They do, with homemade pizza and calzones, all topped with fresh ingredients.  The butter glaze on top really helps.  When doesn't butter help?

Kristine said that if they make a “delicious awesome good product, people will come back for it”  I don’t think you have to worry about that.  After years of hard work, it’s exciting to see the success that Dark Horse is enjoying.  A visit to the eclectic pub is a must.  But if you can't make it to Marshall, go grab their number one seller, Crooked Tree, and toast their success.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homemade Cracker Jack in honor of our boys!

Had my Metro Health Fresh Start cooking class the other night, and we made this winner.  Then my boys won last night, so it's probably very appropriate to share this recipe.  A low fat, maple sugar smacked snack loaded with peanuts and cashews.   Mix this up for the next game, and the next,and the next...all the way to the World Series.  Oh, and don't forget....GO TIGERS!

Spicy Sweet Popcorn Mix

1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 paper lunch bag

Place the kernels in the bag and fold over about 3 times.  Cook in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes on high power.  Don't walk away, the minute the kernels stop popping, remove the bag!

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 TBLS butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1 cup toasted cashews
1 cup roasted peanuts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, syrup, butter, salt, and pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let boil for one minute, then remove from heat.  Let cool one minute.  Place popcorn, cashews and peanuts in a large bowl, sprayed with pan spray.  Pour the hot syrup evenly over the corn and toss well to coat. Immediately spread the corn on the parchment lined sheet and cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


It is nice to see that some things never change.  Three years after visiting Short’s to film our pilot episode, I get to return with the crew from Mlive. The pub is pretty much the same, with a new bar in the stage room, and the same crowds of fans around it as before.

The lure of Short’s beer is legendary.  Owner Joe Short has always had a Michigan Stimulas plan in action.  Short’s beers are incredibly popular, and Joe gets “about 100” messages a day about bringing their beer to places all over the country.  Joe always responds, if you want to get my beer, why don’t you come here ?  And come here they do, with block buster crowds all through the summer, and now the locals have come back in throngs, all to try their unique beers.

And the beers....the beers....the beers!  As a total beer geek, this place is
your wet dream.  Over 20 different taps are all focused on great solid beer styles, some of them with a crazy twist.  And that is what makes Short’s a special place.  Joe Short is an abnormal genius, in all the best sense of the word.  He takes a true brewer’s knowledge, honed after years of brewing all over the state.  And takes that knowledge and brews inspired beers that can surprise and amaze with every sip.

The team at Short's has hand crafted a truly unique bar, with seats from a school bus up front, communal tables to eat at, a stage for local bands, and 20 different taps of some of the most unique beers in Michigan. Noisy, lively, friendly, this pub is THE place to be in Bellaire.

Short's beers are creative, interesting and definately different.  With crazy names like Alien Einstien for a gluten free lager, to OMGWTFBBQ for an insane smoky BBQ beer, there are beers here that are going to blow your mind.  Flagship beers that you can get around the state, like the intensely hoppy Humalupalicious, or the malty Bellaire Brown are just as stellar as always.

This is a place that you can't help but have fun at.  The food was traditional pub grub with a twist, just enough to keep it interesting.  The signature White Pepper sandwich would have been pedestrian if not for the smoky chipotle mayo they added.  Solid choices all around.  Between the different beers, lively atmosphere, and great food, Short's is popular for good reasons.

Short's Beers
-Huma, Shorts flagship IPA, it's even better at the pub
-Gone Commando, only available at the pub, is a Vienna style lager brewed with black currants.  Great color, amazing crisp taste with just a hint of fruit at the end.
-Alien Einstein a low gluten option (they can't say gluten free) that had a greatflavor.  Joe said they use a special enzyme in the brewing process that pulls the gluten out.  And it actually tasted great!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First impression is where is this place?  One small sign next to a Chico’s downtown Petoskey, it’s a place you will have to look for.  Down a long hallway, you will find a hidden gem.  Owners Peter Manthei and Ben Slocum have hand built a bar that is full of personality.
Of course, they started as homebrewers.  But only two of their recipes date from their homebrewing days.  These two are fresh out of college.  In fact, Ben worked his whole last semester building Beards.  That is dedication.  I spent my last semester in college at the Intersection.
Their passion shows.  Talking to the two of them, I could see it on their faces, the way they lit up when talking about their beers.  It shows when you look around the pub and see all the unique touches they have come up with.  No TV’s, instead a vinyl record player.  They took one look at Gonzo and I and put on Flock of Seagulls.  Should I be insulted?

A cool idea the Beard’s had is to have a coaster club instead of a mug club.  Hand stamped coasters are given to members, in exchange they get 10% off merchandise and beers.  No need to store tons of mugs, and totally unique too.  Dealing with a small space, they’ve developed many unique ideas to save it.
No food here, but some local bar snacks are available.  You can also order in from any of the local restaurants.  Ben said that “I make great beer, they make great food”.  A smart idea for such a small place.  Some of their regulars have their favorite pairings, calling Thai Orchid if they are drinking the IPA, or the local Polish takeout to have with the brown ale.  Potlucks are also frequent at the pub, but you have to share with Ben and Peter..    

The beer is well brewed and complex.  Owner's Ben and Peter said they have over 50 types of grains and a ton of different hops to work with, and they are using them all. This variety creates a lot of flavor in their beers.  The Saison is a very light intro beer, drinking like a standard American lager. This one didn't really say Belgian style to me, but the Luna sure did.  A caramel wheat, with a gorgeous orange color, it drinks the way Oberon used to.  Something Something IPA had great aroma and a big kick of hops at the end. My favorite was the very complex Breakfast Brown.  Brewed with maple syrup and RAISINS, it was a malty mouthful of flavor.

Overall, Beards is a great community addition. The beard logo is everywhere, even on a pair of hot pink women's underpants.  Gotta lovve cheek!  

 I loved their coaster club, a cool take on the mug club.  And although they don't offer food, they do have some locally produced bar snacks.  They also encourage you to order in, and will help you with beer pairing ideas (the IPA with food from Orchid Thai sounded good to me).  They also have quite a few potlucks at the pub as well, which I think is awesome.  Great beer in a personable place, with very friendly and knowledgable owner, Beards Brewing in Petoskey is a hidden gem.

If you head out on the beer trail don't miss:
-Luna -a kick ass wheat beer, this one tastes the way Oberon used to, back when it was Solsun

-Breakfast Brown-absolutely delicious, brewed with maple syrup and RAISINS, complex

-Serendipity Porter -this was pulled off the tank for us but it wasn't carbonated yet, but it's going to be a great porter


Day 1, Saturday, GR to Petoskey, Bellaire

Here we go!  An absolutely perfect Michigan fall day....cruising in our sweet Grand Marquis, flying up 131 to Petoskey, we are on the start of our beer journey.  Gonzo is at the wheel, our photographer Tom is riding shotgun, and in the way back Fritz Klug is on my side. Seriously, I feel like a little kid back here with my brother and sister..this is the exact same car we had!  It’s a plush ride, and Gonzo can drive with one finger if he wants to.  As we float down the highway, we all talk about breweries we’ve been to, beers we like, places we are excited to see.

We are quite a grab bag of peeps.  Tom is our photographer, and unfortunately for him, our designated driver.  But we raise our glasses to you, Tom!  Thank you!  Fritz is the baby of our trip, the youngest of the bunch.  An employee of MLIVE, he covers the Lansing area.  John Gonzalez has literally eaten his way across the state while doing the Michigan’s Best tour for burgers, breakfast, coney dogs, and BBQ.  I am wondering if Gonzo will be as talented a drinker as he was an eater.

-This is Fritz eating these Larry the Cable Guy chips, potato salad flavor.  Not a smart move.

And of course, myself.  Pretty much, I’m a professional beer drinker. So that part won’t be a problem.  The fact that I’m considered an expert is rather funny....and pretty cool.   I was lucky enough to get to visit 26 different breweries when we taped the Great American Brew Trail, and I considered all of these guys my friends.  Even though it might seem like each of these places are just another brewery, I found that every single place is unique.  All of them have a unique story, every place had a beer that I loved, or was surprised by, or couldn’t get enough of.  Each brewery had incredibly interesting owners, brewers and staff...almost all of who were just as passionate about beer as I am.

So as we head out, I’m thinking about what we are looking for at these breweries.  To me, the beer is the most important thing, of course.  As my friends at West Side Beer said to me one time, it all comes down to the liquid.  If the liquid is good, the brewery will succeed.  So my first thing I’ll be looking at is, duh, the beer.  I want a decent variety, with several styles represented.  From light to dark, and I always am interested to hear what is the brewers favorite, versus what is the most popular.  Good color, aroma, mouthfeel.  Nice carbonation, different depending on the style.  At least one beer that surprises me, either by breaking with style, or blowing my mind.  No off flavors.  Clean glasses.  Great finish.  A desire to have another one.

You know, tasting beer is a rather subjective experience.  However, there are certain things to look for in each style.  But in reality, it comes down to “do you like it?” and this is where everyone's taste is different.  But generally you can tell if the beer is a good brew right away, and then you can decide if it’s to your taste style.

Beyond the beer, I want to get the feeling of place.  I mean that when I walk into a brewery, I want to feel like I’m in a place that is unique and that speaks of the area that it’s in.  I love bars that have been handcrafted by the owners, or that has personal touches through out  that really tell you about the owners.  I love places that capture the urban feel of the city, or the laid back vibe of up north.  As a beer GIRL, I want to walk in and feel welcomed, never intimidated.  Cozy, quirky, friendly, open.

Important also is that the staff is knowledgable about the beer.  I don't mean beer geek/snob status, I mean pretty basic knowledge about the beer they are serving.  Please be able to answer general questions about the beer.  Also bring it to me in the right glass.  I am totally fine with just two kinds, pints and a tulip for those high alcohol pours.  But please don't bring me a pint of a barrel aged ass kicker.   And NO frosted glasses either!

So as we roll down the highway, in a Grandma car that now smells like something I can't describe (what did they do to make those chips potato salad flavor?), we are all excited about what this week will bring.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Yes, I have one of these!

Yep, it's true.  I own the pro pot.

My insane sister got it for me a few years ago, because my son and husband are insane football fans.  I have to say, I use this little beauty quite a lot.  It's much smaller than my big time crock pot, which makes it perfect for dips for parties.  Plus, just look at it.  It is hilarious.

So my buddy K from high school is heading on down to the U of M game this weekend with some friends and needed some tail gate ideas.  As a former season ticket holder, I say "HAIL"!  Most of the games that I attended I ate absolutely no food at the tailgate, which is probably why I don't remember most of the second halves.  I always recommend laying down a good base before consuming large quantities of Michigan craft beer.  So serving up some tasty snacks is a good idea.  We are kind of still in that in between weather here in in the morning, like fall, then heading into summer by afternoon.  So maybe not quite time for chili yet, save that recipe for the October games.  Plus it needs to transport well, and be good before, and after the game.  Here are two ideas.

This one I'm sure you have had, and if you haven't, get it together and go out more!  My friend C used to make this for work parties years ago, and would never tell us what was in it.  The name says it all, it will disappear.  I would make this the night before, refrigerate, then put in the crock pot first things in the morning and crank it up to high.  Make sure it gets smoking hot.  If you are short on time, microwave it until totally hot.  When you are ready to go, wrap the whole crock pot in a big beach towel and take it to the game.  That should keep it hot until you get there.  This is good cold too.

Disappearing Chicken Dip

1 8oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1 tsp garlic salt
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup hot sauce/wing sauce
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

corn chips and celery for serving

Mix the cream cheese, dressing, salt and onions together until smooth.  Toss the chicken with the hot sauce.  Fold together the cream cheese, chicken and one cup of the cheese.  Pour into a baking dish and top with more cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly and starting to brown.  Serve with the chips for dipping.

I like to make huge sandwiches on baguettes, wrap em up tight in plastic wrap, and transport in a cooler, under everything else.  The pressure will help the bread absorb the dressing, and everything just sticks together good.  Obviously you can make these with whatever ingredients you want, but I love all things Italian, so we head to the boot.  And this is not a puss sandwich, load that thing up with cured meats and feel like

Pressed Sandwiches

1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
fresh mozzarella, sliced
fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced and drained
1 cup pesto
coppa ham, serrano ham or proscuitto

Spread both sides of the bread with the pesto.  Layer up the rest of the ingredients, I like to coat each layer with salt and pepper so the whole thing is seasoned well.  Wrap up the whole sandwich in plastic wrap tight and store in the fridge until you are ready to go.  Place in the cooler, then I usually place a sheet pan on top, and load the rest of the stuff on top.  Slice when you get to the game, so don't forget to bring a serrated knife!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Breakfast of Champions....or at least of kids who don't like to eat ANYTHING.

This one is for my very best friend from high school, Hilaire, and her picky kids.  I'm pretty sure Hilaire's kids are better eaters than mine, based on the simple fact that they are vegetarian.  But veg-heads or not, kids can be a real bitch to cook for.  Their tastes seem to change every minute, every day....and what was once beloved, is now HATED.  Not disliked, I'm talking pure hate.  Plus, in addition to wanting them to enjoy food on sheer love alone, you have to actually nourish them.  I mean really!

My kids do NOT like hot cereal, I try oatmeal like every winter.  These two dishes might help me this year.  I've made both of these for years in my cooking classes and they are always a hit.  This is most likely because they taste like dessert. And that's the beauty of them.  Tell the kids they can have pudding for breakfast, and everyone wins.  First up, coconut quinoa pudding.  Gluten free, vegan, high in protein.  Slightly sweet, and fresh fruit to boot.

Coconut Quinoa Pudding

2 cans (4 cups) unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar or honey to taste
2 tsp vanilla
zest from one lime
1 cup quinoa
6 cardamom pods
1 tsp dried ginger

Stir together all of the ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer, put a lid on the pan and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the coconut milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  You want it to be a little bit soupy.  Turn off the heat and let rest for five minutes.  Remove the cardamom pods.  You can serve this plain, with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or with any fruit.  I like to eat it with mango.

1 ripe mango
juice of half a lime
1/4 cup coconut, shredded

In a dry skillet, toast the coconut until golden brown.  Dice the mango and toss with the lime juice.  Top the pudding with the mango and coconut.

Round two, quinoa with dried fruit and nuts.  You could even make this in a low temp crock pot over night.  Full of protein, you can doctor it up however your family likes it.

Breakfast Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

For serving:  chopped walnuts, pure maple syrup or honey, milk, dried cherries  or fresh blueberries and sea salt

Wash quinoa until water is clear.  Drain washed quinoa well in a large fine-mesh sieve. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep covered to keep warm.

Divide quinoa among bowls and top with walnuts, maple syrup or honey, milk, cherries or blueberries and sea salt. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eat More Kale

(so you can drink more beer)

Everybody talks about how great kale is...but for most of you out there, it's not REALLY that appealing.  I'm being honest!  After years of working as the chef at a local CSA, the one thing I had to teach EVERY year was how to cook and learn to love kale.  This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever make.  In fact, I make it almost every day for lunch.  Healthy and easy, it helps me keep this sweet TV body running.  Just kidding.  What it does do is offset the effects of drinking way to much beer all the time.  Which makes it a winner in my book.

Super Easy Sauteed Kale

This is about as easy as it can get, and incredibly healthy too!  You can change the cheese, seasoning, add toppings.  This is my (almost) daily lunch...sometimes I'll add an egg, or some white beans.  Kale will keep your hair, skin and nails glowing, and make you feel better about drinking so much beer.

extra virgin olive oil
about 6 cups cleaned, sliced kale
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon McCormick Moroccan Seasoning Blend
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Heat some of the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet.  Add the garlic clove, then top with the kale.  Let sit for a minute then stir.  Be careful to not let the garlic burn.  The kale will wilt in about a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and the spice.  Stir and cook another minute or so, until the kale is bright green and the tomatoes are warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper and top with the feta.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One of my favorite recipes for summer, I think I found this on Epicurious.  When I teach a cooking class, I always throw in a "whammy" recipe....meaning something that I have NEVER made before.  I know, that sounds a little bit crazy, but it certainly brings an air of unpredictability to the class, which I find exciting.  So, last year, this was my whammy recipe.  It ended up being my favorite of the whole class.   

Normally cold soups don't excite me, they even sometimes (don't tell anyone) disgust me!  Cold pureed junk, underseasoned, blah.....but this one has an amazing texture, great flavor and hits all sorts of seasonal notes.  Pretty easy to make too, so give it a try.  Your normally hating cold soup self will thank me...or thank Epicurious.

Charred Corn Soup
For soup
4 ears of corn, shucked
4 cups water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
1 fresh poblano chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped (including seeds)
3 firm-ripe California avocados (1 to 1 1/4 lb total)
1 roma tomato
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup crema or sour cream

For cilantro oil
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make soup:
Roast corn on rack of gas burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until kernels are charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and roast corn over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.) Transfer corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cob with a sharp knife, then cut cob into thirds.
Bring kernels, cob pieces, 4 cups water, garlic, salt, and onion to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered. Discard cob pieces.
Purée corn mixture along with chile with an immersion blender until very very smooth.  
Quarter, pit, and peel 2 avocados then add to the soup with 2 tablespoons lime juice and purée until smooth. Transfer soup to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill soup at least 1 hour.

Prepare cilantro oil while soup chills:
Purée cilantro, oil, and salt in cleaned blender, scraping down sides of blender several times. Pour oil into cleaned fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15 minutes (do not press on solids). Discard solids.

Assemble soup:
Halve and pit remaining avocado, and cut into a small dice.  Cut the tomato into a small dice.
Whisk together crema and remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice in a small bowl until smooth.
Season soup with salt and ladle into 6 shallow soup bowls. Divide avocado and tomatoes among bowls, then drizzle with crema and cilantro oil.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


So yesterday I decided enough daytime sobriety....let's do some day drinking!  Headed over to one of my favorite watering holes, Logan's Alley here in Grand Rapids for a quick one.  Logan's always has great craft beer picks on tap, and they have a HUGE bottle collection.  For some reason, I don't think I've ever, ever, in all my years drinking here, gotten a bottle of beer at Logan's.  Only drafts.  I wonder why that is?

Well, most likely, it's because they always have such good ones on tap, I never look beyond the chalkboard.  No need.  And since I really like stouts and porters (especially in the winter) I always look for those on tap first, because in my mind they just taste better on line.

Yesterday was actually sunny here in GR, and I was feeling the need for some hops.  It could be I wanted to match my bitter mood yesterday, for despite the sun, I wasn't feeling too happy.  I know, I know, I'm always pretty on, right?  Not yesterday.  So what's that taste?  Oh, yeah, bitter.

After checking the chalk board, I was struggling.  I didn't want to get was 1:00 in the afternoon after all.  I just wanted to enjoy a couple low alcohol would be pertinent.  I'm kind of skinny, so it doesn't take much.  This is why I drank Guinness all the time before the craft beer boom...nice low booze rating with big flavor.  So the lowest ABV on the board was Short's Reverend La Ale at 4%...surprisingly low, especially from Mr. Extreme Beer, Joe Shorts.

After I took I slug, I was even more surprised.  Although low in the ABV's, this one kicked me right in the face with the hops.  Bold, citrusy, bitter, cold and crisp, this beer is a good one.

This brings me to the point of this post. Earlier this year, I gave my 5 craft beer predictions on the Brew Trails facebook page, just for fun.  I thought I might go more in depth with how these are panning out throughout the year.  One of my predictions was that brewers would start to move away from the super extreme beers we have loved in the past, and move more towards session beers.  This was  a great example of a good session beer, low alcohol, but no compromise on flavor.  I've had a few others I've loved in the past, one that comes to mind is the Solid Gold on tap at Founders during the summer months.  I drank that one all day at Founder's Fest just so I could maintain some semblance of decency on camera, and worked perfectly in that capacity.

So here's to spring and summer drinking, and to lots more sessions of drinking good craft beer.  If you have a favorite session beer, share it in the comments!

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Cake


So I wanted to make sure you all got the recipe for the chocolate stout cake that I made today on Eight West.  According to TDB...that's what my husband calls Terry DeBoer....this is one chocolatey cake.  I agree.  Isn't that the point?  If you are going to make something that's called chocolate cake,  it better damn well taste like some serious chocolate.  And the beautiful thing about this cake is that the stout in it actually makes it taste even more chocolatey.  It also helps provide a lot of moisture, and give the cake some lift.  Of course, WE know how magical beer is, but I like to introduce it's amazing properties to the masses as well.  Eight West is good for  that.

So the could make this all in one bowl with a spoon if you wanted to, it's that easy.  Now the recipe calls for stirring the dry ingredients together in one bowl, then adding it to another bowl...blah blah blah.  In the real baking world, just dump all the shit together and mix.  That doesn't always work, but it does for this cake.  Pour it into some prepared 9 inch pans.  The original recipe called for three 9 inch pans.  I couldn't find my third one, so instead I poured about 3/4 the batter into one pan, and the rest into the other one.  When they are done, cut the fatty cake into two pieces, and leave the thin one alone. Viola!  Three layers.

The icing for this cake is NO JOKE.  One pound of chocolate.  It's good.  Really really good.  I find it hard to actually put it on the cake, I'm always busy sampling it.  And don't buy crappy Baker's chocolate.  Get something good.  Your cake will thank you.

So really all you care about is WHAT BEER DID YOU USE IN THE CAKE???  I know, me too.  I would NEVER recommend this, but I used New Holland Dragon's Milk.  WHAT??  It's not that I don't love this beer....I do...I love love love it.  I drank so much of it when we taped at New Holland that I think I started to sweat out Dragon's Milk (it was in the summer, and kind of hot if I remember).  But to spend that much money on a beer to cook with, I can't recommend.  Also, the beautiful nuances of that beer are lost during the baking process.  

So why the hell did I bake with it then?  Because this week, I had a beer sampling at Aquinas College for an upcoming event.  I had a lot of opened beer left over, and a girl can only drink so much.  So, after a few days, not so great for drinking, but PERFECT for cooking.  In fact, if this ever happens to you, you can freeze the beer in ziploc bags and save it to use later.  This is how I happened to have Dragon's Milk to cook with.  And I will say that it was spectacular in this cake.  But any stout, or even a porter, will work like a dream in this recipe.

So get your bake on!  Try something new, maybe not so traditional, but awesome for St. Patrick's day.  
Here's a picture of my friend Barak trying the cake, while watching me on TV.  Did I mention he's crazy?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sherman's Stout Cake

1 cup stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with pan spray.  Cut out two parchment rounds to fit the pans.  Lay them in the pans, spray again, and then dust with flour.  Tap out any excess flour.

In a saucepan, bring the stout and butter to a simmer.  Add the cocoa powder and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Let cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda and salt.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer if you want, mix the eggs and the sour cream.  Stir in the stout mixture and blend well.  Stir in the flour mixture and blend until completely combined.  Don't over mix the batter, you are mixing them totally together, but then that's it.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.  Put about 3/4 the mix in one pan, and 1/4 the mix in the other.  You will be cutting one cake in half, and leaving the other cake whole, to get a total of three layers.  Or if you happen to have three 9 inch cake pans, you can prepare all three and then divide the batter equally.  Place the cakes in the oven.  The thin cake will be done in about 20 minutes.  The thicker one will take about 35 minutes.  Either way, when they spring back in the middle, they are done.  Let cool.  Cut the thick cake in half.

Stout Icing

2 cups heavy cream
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces unsalted butter, diced
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup stout beer

Heat the cream to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium heat.  Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.  Whisk to combine them.  Add the sugar and whisk well.  Stir in the sour cream and the beer.  Let the icing sit until it is spreadable, usually about an hour.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, top with about 2/3 cup icing.  Top with second cake layer, more icing, then the third layer.  Spread a thin crumb coat over the top and let sit until firm, or refrigerate until firm.  Spread the remaining icing over the cake.