My Biggest Fear

Here’s a post from the old days and my Tumblr that I thought I would bring over.  Still slightly fearful of these things today…

When I was little I lived in Elk Grove, California.  I lived there for about five or so years and moved away after the first grade.  I remember a lot of things about living there. Like my parents brining home singing nuns (you read that right), watching the field behind our neighborhood catch fire, me learning to ride a bike and slamming into a truck…I can go on and on.  However, there was one thing that was told to me during this time that stuck with me for years.  It started a fear that I couldn’t get over for years.

That fear?

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Dinner: Seattle Asian Salmon Bowls

Finished product.

In the last post I talked about how we make Skinnytaste recipes a lot.  Well, here’s another one.  The wife and I both saw this recipe while looking through Instagram.  We both follow Skinnytaste on there and you should too (do so here).  We’ve now made two delicious recipes based on pictures alone.

This time around it was these Asian Salmon Bowls that caught our eye.  We’re usually game for anything involving salmon.  Throw in some Asian ingredients and we’re pretty much sold.  Especially when the ingredients are pretty much sushi…just not rolled up.

As per most recipes, I came home to this being 95% done.  I acted like I helped a bit (opened a beer) and everything was ready to go.  The wife had everything looking marvelous as usual.  I mean, just look at it.  On the side we made up some edamame (freezer bag).  A quick throw into a microwave and a ton of salt later…BOOM!

We dug in and once again, loved what we were eating.  I think we would cut down the wasabi a little for next time or possibly add a little less of the sauce to the bowl.  Other than that the dish was delicious.  It is pretty much a salmon roll that the sushi chef was too lazy to roll up.  It’s great to now have a recipe we can make at home if we have an Asian or even a sushi fix.  This one will fit the bill and keep things healthy.

Below is the recipe (which you can find on the Skinnytaste site here)…and like I said in the last post, buy her cookbook here!

Seattle Asian Salmon Bowls

Ingredients:

For The Salmon Bowl:

  • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 4-ounce avocado, diced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup sprouts such as daikon radish
  • 1 strip nori, shredded
  • 16 ounces wild salmon, cut in 4 pieces
  • olive oil spray
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the Soy-Wasabi Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp less sodium soy sauce (or GF Tamari)
  • 2 tsp wasabi in tube
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Directions

  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Heat rice and keep warm.
  2. Season salmon with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Heat a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spray the pan lightly with oil spray. When hot sear salmon, around 2 – 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  3. Split rice into four bowls equally, 1/2 cup each. Top each bowl with 1 oz avocado, green onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and sprouts. Place salmon on top of each bowl, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with shredded nori.

Dinner: Long Trail Beer Cheese Burgers (and spread)

IMG_0275As I drove to the grocery store to pick up some things for breakfast, there was a guy on the radio talking about craft beer.  He mentioned that one of his best pairings of food and beer was burgers and beer.  I mean…I can’t argue with that.  That’s when I got an idea that I wanted beer cheese burgers for dinner.  Being the awesome spouse that she is, when I mentioned this idea to my wife she said, “sure”.  A quick Google search for beer cheese recipes lead me to one for a Kentucky Beer Cheese Spread that got good reviews.  It also called for a bunch of stuff that we already had in the house, so that worked in our favor (ya’ll know I had the beer).

With a quick run to the store, we had the necessary extra items to make burgers and fries.  The beer cheese was amazingly simple to make.  The longest part was shredding the cheese.  For the few of us at the house, we could have definitely cut the recipe in half.  However, for entertaining, the regular amount below would be perfect.  For this recipe I used a Long Trail Farm House Session IPA (nice VT beer thanks to my mom and Bob for brining in) to make the beer cheese.  You can definitely get some different flavors from this using different beers, but for our first try I wanted to go with something that wouldn’t back too much of a punch.  The Session IPA here definitely worked out great.

For those folks that are near Cincinnati, this recipe rivals that from Servatii’s beer cheese spread.  This stuff was legit.  We had some pretzel roll bites to dip into this stuff and we pretty much emptied the bag of the pretzel bites.  I think we would use a little less cayenne next time, but overall…we will definitely make this again.  If you get invited to our house for a part or invite us somewhere…this might just show up.

Once we had this made we quickly threw some beef patties on the grill and fries in the oven.  The wife and our friend didn’t feel like beer cheese burgers so they put together their own In-N-Out burgers (check that recipe here).  I stuck with the original plan and threw a gob of beer cheese on my patty while it was on the grill to get it a little warm and gooey.  The burger went straight onto a pretzel bun with some lettuce, tomato, and a heaping helping of caramelized onions.  Oh boy…I was in heaven.  No condiments needed on this fantastic mess.

Overall…great dinner and great new recipe found.  The wife pinned it just so we could make it again.

Dinner Beer: Long Trail Limbo IPA (eating and drinking Long Trail this night)

Kentucky Beer Cheese Spread

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
Directions
  1. Pour beer into a bowl and whisk until beer loses its carbonation, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Place shredded cheese into the work bowl of a food processor; add garlic, dry mustard powder, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and flat beer.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy, pulsing a few times, scraping the sides, and blending for about 2 total minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If adding more seasoning, pulse a few times to mix.
  4. Transfer cheese spread to a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Spread tastes best when refrigerated overnight to blend flavors, but it can be served right away if needed.

Dinner: Homemade Pasta

IMG_0212I don’t really have a recipe here.  This is kind of one of those things you just throw together without any direction.  In this case, with my mom and her BF in town, we decided to make a pasta we’ve come to enjoy.  We made it a couple of visits back and it’s just a light pasta with simple ingredients.  It may have had a few different iterations, but it usually has at least:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Olives
  • Peppers
  • White Wine
  • Shrimp
  • Cheese (we used a fontina/asiago blend)

The amounts of the above items can vary based on your preferences.  As you can see in the pictures below we sautéed everything up in our braiser before adding in the pasta.

Now, the best part of this night was that we made homemade pasta.  Making pasta has been done by my grandma and my mom.  This was the first time that we actually did it at our house.  So, we started passing down the recipes from one generation to the next.  Now the recipe doesn’t have much to it, but we learned how to make our own pasta…and since our son has some Italian in his blood, it is something that he needs to know.  There is no…NO substitute for homemade pasta.

Again…no recipe here for this.  I checked with my mom and she said that you use about 3/4 cups of flour to one egg.  I think we used about five eggs and it was plenty for five people (and more).  Once you add those in, you use a little water until everything comes together to make the dough.  Knead it a little and set it aside until you are ready to roll it out.

My mom and Bob got us our first pasta maker to use just for this.  It takes the little sections of dough that we cut up and helps roll it out thinly into strips.  From here it cuts all the strips up into the exact pasta you want.  In our case we went with more of a standard spaghetti or angel hair pasta (not a fan of thicker noodles in this house).

Once the pasta was done and the other ingredients cooked up, we through it all into a bowl and added the cheese.  The cheese and white wine helped form up a nice, light sauce.  About four school fulls later onto my plate and I was ready to eat.  It was a hit all around.  It’s no wonder why we make this each time my mom comes around town.  It’s kind of a tradition now…and now we have the tradition to make homemade pasta as well.  We had enough left over to feed four of us the next day…and even the leftovers were legit.

All I can say is…if you have the time, treat yo self to some homemade pasta.  It will change your world.

Beer: My First Heady Topper

IMG_0201As I started getting more into craft beer and liking IPAs the most…a couple of beers have come across my radar that I really wanted to try.  One being Three Floyds Zombie Dust and the other being The Alchemist’s Heady Topper.  Both rated as really good beers and both not that easy to come by…Heady Topper especially as they only sell it around a small town in Vermont.

Once I started looking into Heady Topper a bit more, I realized I knew someone that lived only a few hours from Vermont…my mom.  What mother wouldn’t want to make beer run for her son to a town four hours away and then transport said beer from Rhode Island to Ohio.  Luckily, the answer to this question was my mother.  My mother wouldn’t mind a bit.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to go see VT in the fall when the leaves changed color?  I was trying to sell the trip you guys.

So, with her and her boyfriend Bob’s help, we set up a plan to get some Heady Topper from VT to RI to OH.  The plan wound up being that my mom and Bob would drive to VT and stay overnight at a bed and breakfast.  This would allow them time to scope out a beer shop that The Alchemist delivered to.  This is another thing about Heady Topper.  It’s only delivered to certain places on certain days (check the schedule here if you want).

Back to the story…

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Dinner: Spinach, Ham, and Gruyére Frittata

IMG_0107Busting open one of the Cooking Light to look for things to make for dinner and we came across a spread of different frittatas that we could make.  Having wanted to try a frittata for a while and seeing one with prosciutto in it…we were pretty much sold.  A trip to the store to pick up the ingredients and it was time to start cooking things up.  We had the help of my mom during this one, so I just stood around and snapped pictures and tasted.

There was a bit more prep and managing of the recipe, but it still seemed to come together pretty easily.  In this case it was throw everything into a pan and cook it up.  We love our Le Creuset braising pan which we used to make up most of the meal.  It’s nice to have a pan that allows you to cook everything up and throw directly into the oven.  Literally the most used pan that we have in the kitchen (thanks mom!).

Once everything was sautéed it went straight into the oven.  After cooking and broiling the frittata it was ready to go.  Along side the frittata we cooked up some red potatoes.  These were simple potatoes that we roasted with some salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil.  When the potatoes hit a nice golden brown we took them out of the oven and slapped them onto the plate with the frittata.

I’m pretty much a fan of everything that went into the frittata, so it’s no surprise that it was pretty delicious to eat.  It was a hit all around the table.  Showing my appreciation for the well cooked meal, I went ahead and helped myself to seconds.  I can’t argue when the meal is full of eggs, cheese, and meat.  We haven’t made a frittata before, but they will most likely be in the rotation now.  You can’t argue with a meal that you can pretty much doctor up with whatever you would want.  One of the best parts here is that it heats up super well the next morning for breakfast!

So, pick up a pan, pick up some ingredients and get to cooking.

Spinach, Ham, and Gruyére Frittata

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
6 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup 1% milk
3 cups spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ounce prosciutto, crisped and crumbled
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat broiler to high. Combine egg whites, eggs, salt, pepper, and milk; stir with a whisk.
2. Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over ­medium heat. Sauté spinach and minced garlic in olive oil until tender.
3. Layer in prosciutto, caramelized onions, and chives.
4. Sprinkle with shredded Gruyere cheese.
5. Carefully pour egg mixture over cheese. Cook over medium heat 5 to 6 ­minutes or until eggs are partially set; then broil 5 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned and almost set.

San Diego: Day 4

After the night of the wedding, eating and drinking ourselves into oblivion we did not get up early the next morning.  It seems day 4 is the one where the jet lag is gone.  Which is great as we were off, back to Ohio the following day, but whatever.  Since we actually slept in, we didn’t bother with exercise and went straight to breakfast.  Since we had had the hotel breakfast for a couple days, we decided to head out and see what San Diego could offer.  I researched a bunch of places beforehand, but I stopped my search when I found a place that offered pancake flights.  It’s like a a flight of beer where you can taste different samples…but with pancakes.  C’mon son.

We drove over to Snooze Hillcrest and had a brief wait before breakfast.  As the wife and I normally do, we ordered a ton of food knowing we won’t get back there anytime soon.  In this case we went with a flight of pancakes (spiced pear, pineapple upside down, and the special of the day: pumpkin), the corned beef hash, a side of bacon (for me), and quinoa porridge.  Holy crap…it was all amazing.

Snooze makes a legit breakfast.

Snooze makes a legit breakfast.

After breakfast, and stuffing our faces, it was time to say goodbye to my mom and her boyfriend as they headed back towards the LA area.  We, however, had the whole day to kill.  So we dug up some suggestions from my cousin and headed out.  The first stop was Balboa Park.  Balboa Park has a ton of stuff going on in it.  There are museums, gardens, a theater, and it’s connected to the SD Zoo.  We aren’t really zoo or garden people, so we hit up the one of the museums that was there.  They had a small exhibit on beer and another on torture…so we thought…what the hell.

Beer-ology exhibit.

Beer-ology exhibit.

There were no photos allowed in the torture museum, but let’s just say…that stuff is messed up.  Definitely not a pick me up to the day.  However, once we were out of there we shook off the bad vibes and decided to head to Pacific Beach.  We ended up parking right next to a pier there and the views were gorgeous as you walked out on it.  I could sit there and listen to the waves for hours (if I didn’t get sunburned so easily).

Great views.

Great views.

As we walked along the beach, we started to get a bit hungry.  We ended up going right by the Baja Beach Cafe.  We were almost passed it when the wife saw some of the margaritas they were serving.  That with some fish tacos on the menu and we were out on the patio having lunch.

Lunch views.

Lunch views.

It was pretty tasty...and huge!

It was pretty tasty…and huge!

For being a little spot on the beach, the food was pretty good.  We had wanted to get some fish tacos before we left SD and this place did a pretty good job of fitting that bill.  After a full belly of fish tacos and lobster taquitos, it was off again on our day.

We had planned on a nice dinner out, but after a nice walk on the beach and our big meals already…we decided a change of plans was in order.  We went back to the hotel for a little rest and then decided that we would figure out what to do after.  I started looking up places to get flights of beer and that lead me to a bottle shop in the Little Italy area of SD.  We got dressed, got in the car, and headed out.

Little Italy was about ten minutes from our hotel in Mission Valley.  We got a parking spot right in front of the bottle shop.  The downside here is that the flight the bottle shop was offering was not something that I was excited about.  The upside is that the Ballast Point tasting room was a block away.  We walked into Ballast point and set up shop.  The wife went to grab a little bit of food (a nice charcuterie plate for only $15) and I went to the beer.  They offer up samples for a great price.  I ended up getting six different samples of some of their experimental and stuff only at the tasting room.  I was in heaven.

Sour Wench...one of my favs from Ballast Point.

Sour Wench…one of my favs from Ballast Point.

We ate and drank while people milled about and football was on TV.  I could live in a place like this.  Meats and cheeses and beer.  Heaven.  As we finished our little snack and beer, we decided to walk around Little Italy and see what the place had to offer.  There were restaurants and cool little places all over.  As we started to pass a restaurant that was connected to this little Italian market, the wife spotted some lasagna in the window.  Even though we had a lot to eat during the day, it was late and the stomachs were growling a little.  So, with our food radar going off, we went inside Filippi’s Pizza Grotto.

The place was quaint and kind of what you picture when you think of typical Italian restaurant.  The walls were covered in paintings that made it look like you were in Italy.  Candles were on every table and if memory serves there were fake ivy in places.  However, don’t let the decor fool you, their food is legit.  We ordered a salad (the small would feed four) and a piece of lasagna.  Oh my…just…

So...so...good.

So…so…good.

The lasagna reminded me of my grandmother…and that is a high compliment.  The sauce was light and fresh.  Just enough meat in it, but not enough to make it super heavy.  I swear there were a million layers to this thing, but the noodles and cheese ratio was perfect.  We did our best, but left a little back on the plate.  This is a time when I wish we lived nearby so I could take the rest home.  Alas, we had to leave a little behind.  It brought a slight tear to my eye.  Sometimes, it’s little places like this you just wander into and have one of the most amazing meals in recent memory.  My mouth is watering as I type this thinking about that lasagna.

After our dinner, it was time to pack it in.  We had an early morning the next day to fly back to Ohio.  That being said, I was able to hit up Stone one more time…in the airport…for breakfast (sadly no beer for me).

Breakfast.

Breakfast.

After some awful Delta flights later, we were back in Ohio.  We will miss San Diego and all of the food, beer, and fun it offered. The weather was great, the sights were amazing.  I’m glad my family lives out here as it gives us more reason to visit…and often.  I can’t thank my cousin enough for inviting us and our Grammy for watching the little guy for our trip.

We’ll be back…but for now I’ll just have to live through the pictures!