Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mexican Pasta

Sometimes I like to mix different kinds of foods together. Mexican Italian fusion, ya feel me? Well, it's hardly real Mexican or real Italian, but it is very tasty, comforting, and filling!

This recipe came together when I realized I was missing too many key ingredients for another meal I was planning. I had bought orecchiette rigate when I was at Whole Foods but didn't really have a plan to use it. I'd never had that kind of pasta before. I also have no idea how to pronounce it. I'd just seen it floating around online and thought I better stay in the game! Hence, the pasta goes into my cart...Really though, this pasta worked wonderful for the dish because they were like mini bowls that scooped up the sauce.

Mexican Pasta

1 pound orecchietta rigate or a different small shaped pasta
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon corriander
1 (15 oz) can red mild enchilada sauce
1 (8 oz) can refried beans
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
6-8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Cook pasta according to package.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent; add in ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Add in garlic and saute 1 minute. Add in spices and combine. Pour in enchilada sauce and stir in refried beans until smooth. Stir in green chiles and simmer until pasta is done cooking or about 10 minutes. 
3. Mix sauce and pasta together. Serve and top with shredded cheese. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brew Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Beer: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Date: 11-24-11
Alcohol: 7.2%
Package Type: 6 pack of 12 oz bottles
Location Brewed: Chico, CA
Price: Unknown as it was a beer available on Thanksgiving

Aroma: Hops, pine, citrus
Appearance: Golden and pretty clear
Body & Texture: Sits well in your mouth. Goes down smooth. Nice bite from the hops but not overwhelming.
Aftertaste: A mild bite from the hops lingers in your mouth with a hint of pine

Overall Impression: I've never been a fan of Sierra Nevada's beer, but after being convinced to try it by my brother, I gave it a chance. I'm glad I did because I really liked this beer! It was a pretty mild IPA overall. Nothing in comparison to Laguintas' IPA but I think it stands up well. It had a great aroma, great color, great carbonation, & left a beautiful lacing on the glass. What else can you ask for in a beer? I would definitely recommend trying this beer to anyone who enjoys IPA or even if you're just starting to taste IPA's. I would buy this beer and stock it in my own refrigerator.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are you sick of sweets yet? I sure hope not because it's only just beginning. December is like national cookie month. Christmas cookies -- hello! I know after Thanksgiving I am always in the mood to bake up sweets. These cookies are sweet and hardy. I love oatmeal cookies (without raisins!). I've made these in the past and they were a hit so I decided to bake them again and bring them to a family gathering I went to over the weekend. Yes, another family gathering 2 days after Thanksgiving. That's the great thing about living close to family.

I recommend baking these cookies this holiday season. The cranberries are festive and the white chocolate chips are decadent. Try them out and spoil the people you love with them.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Ocean Spray

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups regular oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. With an electric mixer; beat butter and sugar together until incorporated and light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixed. In a separate bowl; add oats, flour, baking soda, and salt together. Slowly mix into the wet ingredients.
3. Mix in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. On a baking sheet drop about 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough and distribute evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

** Makes about 2 and a half dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Random Thoughts Thursday {Thanksgiving Edition}

1. i really enjoy spending my weekend outdoors. so lucky to have such beautiful places to take puppy boy that are close to home.

2. i'm obsessed with picnik.

3. i created a pintrest account last week and now when i'm bored i spend up to an hour staring at stupid things that make me laugh.

4. watching the show Once Upon a Time with d-day.

5. sweet potato pie is better than pumpkin pie. fistpump.

6. i've been slowly but surely watching every episode of say yes to the dress on netflix. iloveweddingdresses.

7. i love baking for people.

8. i love baking for myself.

9. i have no self control around sweets. i need to just stop. last wednesday i ate a bag of jelly beans by myself and then felt sick and mad at myself. just say no!

10. i hope you enjoy a great thanksgiving meal. i know i will.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I kind of love making bread. Whenever I make bread I feel impressed with myself; like hot damn, I just made some homemade bread! Then I like to slice into it and eat a piece. Homemade bread is pretty awesome and since so few people make it themselves, your friends and family will be impressed. Don't you like impressing people? If so, try out this recipe. It's a pretty simple bread recipe.

I came across this recipe on foodgawker (of course) and knew I was going to have to make it over the weekend. First thing Saturday morning I got to bread baking and when I got back from my hike in the afternoon I cut into this baby to reward myself. Not only did my house smell like a bakery but I was in bread heaven! Do yourself a favor and make this recipe!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Recipe by Cooking Classy

For the dough:
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup water, warmed
1/2 teaspoon sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk, warmed
2 Tablespoons molasses
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 1/4 cup flour

For the swirl:
1 1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand-up electric mixer fitted with a dough hook; combine the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and warm water. Let sit for about 5 minutes and stir to dissolve. Add in the milk, molasses, salt, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, ginger, egg, and pumpkin. Combine ingredients on a medium speed. Add in the flour and knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic looking.
2. Let rise in a well oiled bowl in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap for about an hour or until doubled in size.
3.  In a small bowl; combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Grease a loaf pan.
4. When dough is doubled in size, punch the dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a large rectangle. About 22 inches by 8 inches. Spread melted butter on rolled out dough almost to the edges. Sprinkle cinnamon brown sugar all over dough where you spread the butter. Roll dough up like a jelly roll. Place rolled dough into greased loaf pan and let rise another 45 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. About half way through cover with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Let cool 5 minutes in loaf pan. Turn dough out on a wire rack and cool completely.

1. This dough was super sticky! Make sure to flour your hands.
2. If you don't have a stand-up electric mixture, just use a bowl and your hands. When the dough comes together in a bowl, lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. You'll just get a little arm workout.
3. Rather than eating the whole loaf in one weekend, I sliced the entire loaf and packaged each slice individually with plastic wrap. Then I placed all the pieces in a large ziplock and placed it in the freezer. When I want a piece I'll just stick it in the toaster and slather it with some butt-ah.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brew Review: New Belgium Belgo

Beer: New Belgium Belgo Belgian Style IPA
Date: 10-30-11
Alcohol: 7%
Package Type: 6 pack of 12 oz bottles
Location Brewed: Fort Collins, Colorado
Price: Unknown - taken from my parents well-stocked beer fridge.

Aroma: Medium hops
Appearance: Very light golden
Body & Texture: Light, smooth, good carbonation. Easily drinkable.
Aftertaste: Slight bite and citrus flavors

Overall Impression: This would be a good beer for a beginner IPA drinker. It seems much lighter on the hops than a West Coast IPA. The color was very light which I don't really like, it just seemed off. It was very clear. It's more of a light IPA so if you're just getting your toes wet in IPA's then you should really try this one. Great beer for lunch with a sandwich on a sunny day but not necessarily a hot day. David and I agreed that we wouldn't buy this beer for our fridge to keep on hand but if someone else had it then we would definitely drink it. It gave me a great burp which I always appreciate in a beer. Sorry if that grossed you out but I love a great beer burp! It also left great lacing on the glass which is always a good sign.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup surprised me. I've made countless butternut squash soups and they never lived up to my expectations. I fell in love with butternut squash in 2004 and have been searching for an amazing soup recipe since. Luckily, I found it! This soup is very simple; with a short ingredient list and short cooking time, it's perfect for week nights.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe by Rachael Ray Everyday September 2011

2 onions, quartered
1 pound cubed butternut squash
2 serrano chiles, halved and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
2 T light brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss onions, squash, and serrano chilies with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
2. Warm broth in a pot over medium heat. Add roasted vegetables, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Puree. Stir in cream and serve.

Just a couple notes on this recipe:
1. You don't have to use light brown sugar. I used regular brown sugar and it's perfectly fine. You don't need to fret about the small stuff!
2. The serrano chiles give it a nice quick but its not over powering. It just provides warmth.
3. I labeled this also as vegetarian because you could obviously use veggie broth rather than chicken.
4. If you don't have an immersion blender, do what I do! Use your blender. It took me 2 batches to puree all of it but it works great. Just make sure to leave a crack on the top and cover it with a dish towel so it doesn't pop the top off and cause soup to go all over your cupboards. That actually happened once to my dad. I'll never forget it, because Jason (my brother) was very young, sitting up on the counter, I believe shirtless, when it happened. The hot soup went all over, including on him! Not fun to clean up.

Are you as hopelessly in love with butternut squash as I am?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shaved Brussels, Broccoli, & Almond Salad

This is a great fall salad!
This salad will make you feel so healthy and you'll be happy you're eating healthy. Healthy has never tasted so good. When I saw this recipe on Aubrey's blog, italktofood, I knew I had to make it. I have a food sensitivity to cheese and last week I had indulged and it cost me. Unfortunately, I had a headache for 2 days and knew I needed to eat more fresh foods. This was just what the doctor ordered! Thank you, Aubrey, for creating such a delicious salad.

I had to change a couple things up because Whole Foods does not sell golden raisins. What gives?! I used Thompson raisins but after I ate it I realized I would love to use craisins. That way, I could also say it's a holiday salad. You could bring it to a family dinner as a holiday cold salad -- perfect! Or you could just enjoy it for lunch like I did.

Shaved Brussels, Broccoli, & Almond Salad
Adapted by italktofood

2 cups brussel sprouts, finely chopped
2 cups broccoli, finely chopped
3 T raisins or craisins <----- would be bomb!
1/3 cup sliced almonds 
1 t mustard 
1 T honey
1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 t red wine vinegar 

1. In a large bowl or tupperware combine brussels, broccoli, raisins/craisins, and almonds. 
2. In a small bowl make dressing by combining mustard, honey, salt, and red wine vinegar. Whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over veggies, stir, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 

Are you a fan of brussels?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random Thoughts Thursday

1. fall is my favorite season

2. i typically drink water or beer

3. charlie bite me! Well, not really but Ryder did. He jumped up and bit my upper arm -- ouch!

4. it gets so cold in my house I wear, socks, slippers, sweats, shirt, sweatshirt, beanies, and sometimes a scarf!

5. by so cold I mean, 62...

6. i feel good about myself when i jog/walk 3 miles around Spring Lake

7. i thank myself for making it to yoga -- namaste

8. i lllooovvvveee Thanksgiving. it is my favorite holiday. what is not to love about a holiday centered around food?!

9. i do not enjoy dungenous crab. i don't understand the hype. so much work for so little meat! bring on the king crab.

10. today is going to be a good day

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Blondies

I've made these pumpkin blondies countless times. I first made them when I stumpled upon Josie's blog, Pink Parsley. Her blog was one of the first food blogs I started reading and this recipe was one of the first recipes I ever made off a food blog. It was such a success that I craved more food blogs and thus my obsession with food blogs began.

I first made these for David's birthday. He loved them so much I shared them with others and everyone else who tried them loved them too. They are always a crowd pleaser so you should definitely make them and please people with them. You may become more popular...

The batter is very thick as you can see below so don't be surprised! This is completely normal.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Blondies
From Pink Parsley,originally from Martha Stewart

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 package white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9"x13" baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.
2. In a bowl mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. 
3. Using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, beat until combined. Add in the pumpkin and combine. On low speed add in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour white chocolate chips in and stir until incorporated evenly. 
4. Spread batter out on prepared baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan and then remove by lifting foil out and cutting into even squares. 

1. Mine usually take 35-40 minutes. 
2. I've skipped lining the baking dish with foil and just spraying the dish with non stick spray. It works just fine but it's a little more difficult getting that first piece out. 
3. I've been told by some that they would like it more without the white chocolate chips. You could certainly do that  but I actually love them!

Are you sick of pumpkin recipes yet?
I say bring em' on!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New England Clam Chowder

This is my favorite clam chowder ever. EVER.

 It's no lie, I am picky when it comes to clam chowder. 

 I don't like it too thick. In my experiences, most places make it too thick, like almost oatmeal thick. YUCK. I like oatmeal, but I don't like my clam chowder to be oatmeal thick. I mean, chowder is still soup. This recipe is definitely soup but it's not too thin either. Personally, if made right, I think it's the perfect consistency for clam chowder. Isn't that the most important aspect of clam chowder? It's consistency?

 I've been making this clam chowder recipe since October 19, 2004. That's the glorious night I found my go-to clam chowder recipe. I'll continue making this clam chowder until I can no longer cook. That's a long time! 

New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from Comfort Foods by Rachael Ray 

2 T butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 heaping teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 cup clam juice
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cups whole milk or light cream
2 medium white-skinned potatoes, diced
1 can (10 oz) baby clams, drained

1. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and bay leaf. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until onion is soft. Whisk in flour and Old Bay, cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in clam juice and broth. Cook until broth begins to thicken. Takes about 3-5 minutes. Slowly stir in milk. Add potatoes, raise heat to high, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add clams and heat thoroughly. Season with S&P.  

Just a few notes:
1. I like to use 1 cup cream and 1 cup whole milk for this recipe - I think it thickens up perfectly this way. 
2. I used yellow-skinned potatoes this time and it worked marvelous! Don't fret if you don't have white.
3. You need to chop your potatoes the same size! Consistency really matters in this recipe. Also, take note that it says diced. Diced means small, people! If you don't, you'll be waiting around for an eternity for them to cook all the way through.
4. I forgot to buy the clam juice -- what the?! I just drained the juice that the baby clams came in which gave me almost a cup and it still came out excellent.

Do you prefer oyster crackers or saltines?
Obviously we prefer saltines, baby!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

Can I just say terrible lighting? Seriously! A little complaining from me going on about the lighting in my photos. When I get home from work and get cooking and by the time it's done, it is dark outside. Dark outside = my photos suffering. I guess it will have to be something I really work on this winter. Please stick with me while I learn how to use a camera.

On to the food...This.was.tasty.
I spotted it on foodgawker and knew I had to make it immediately. Luckily it's pretty easy to make but takes a little time since the sweet potatoes have to bake. I forgive that part of the recipe though. You can put your sweet potatoes in the oven and then go take your pup for a walk like I did. Or walk by yourself, or with a friend, or go do chores, or sit on facebook and waste time...whatever you decide to do while your sweet taters bake, I'm sure it will fly by.

David said these were good but were too healthy for him after splurging on Pioneer Woman's Macaroni and cheese recipe the night before ( a Halloween tradition). I disagree, I thought they were perfect!

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

2 large sweet potatoes, about the same size
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 bag baby spinach
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup chick peas
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices bacon, chopped
S&P to taste

1. In a 350 degree oven, bake cleaned sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes (depends on how big they are) until fork tender.
2. Cut sweet potatoes in half and let cool 5-10 minutes. Saute shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.
3. Scrape the insides of the sweet potato out into a large bowl. Make sure to leave a thin layer all around the sweet potato so that it can stand up on its own. Mash the sweet potato with sour cream. Stir in the shallot spinach mixture and chick peas. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Brush sweet potato skins with olive oil and place back in oven for about 5 minutes to crisp them up a bit. Remove from oven and fill skins with the mixture. Top with shredded cheese and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
5. Meanwhile, cook bacon till crisp in the pan you used for the shallot & spinach. Once potatoes are finished baking, top with bacon and serve.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Random Thoughts Thursday

1. oldies on Pandora is fun

2. baking sweet potatoes and butternut squash in the oven is so much better than any other technique

3. organic granny smith apples w/ chunky peanut butter is absolutely a palette party

4. puppy boy is the sweetest boy in the world

5. puppy boy easily transforms into evil ryder

 6. I cannot resist doughnuts for the life of me. I ate the one above and felt no guilt. It was fluffy, sweet, and satisfying. I then kidnapped its identical twin, put it in a ziplock bag, and saved it for the next morning. genius.

7. cheese is my arch nemesis

8. its dark at 5:30 p.m.

9. jason aldean and luke bryan songs dig their words into my brain and NEVER leave. I fall asleep with their songs in my head and I wake up with them in my head. I will not listen to either of their songs this week. period.

10. it was 34 degrees this morning when I walked puppy boy around the pond. my ears froze solid and then broke off. twas painful to say the least. must wear earmuffs! must buy ear muffs…!

Any random thoughts you'd like to share?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brew Review: Life & Limb Collaboration

Beer: Life & Limb collaboration of Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head
Date: 10-29-11
Alcohol: 10.2%
Package Type: 22 oz
Location Brewed: Chico, CA
Price: $9.99

Aroma: Syrup

Appearance: Very deep dark brown

Body & Texture: Heavy, thick, strong, intense, low carbonation

Aftertaste: almost like cough syrup because of the syrup mixed with alcohol.

Overall Impression: This beer was too strong for me. There was too much of an alcohol taste for my liking but it was also too sweet. It's made with birch and maple syrup and I was not a fan. I was unable to finish my small tasting glass.  David thought it was a very hearty beer. He could taste the syrups prominently in the aftertaste. The alcohol flavor wasn't masked by anything. We agree that it's definitely a winter time evening beer. The label states that this beer is meant to drink slowly and with friends and family. It's brewed for the real craft brew lover and I can see that being very true. This is a limited time release beer and may be hard to find. It was a fun tasting but not my favorite. Can't like them all! If you have an opportunity to taste this beer, try it!

This bottle was beautiful! Beautiful label, pop off top, and great information about the beer on the back label.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



So glad I could celebrate with you! Have a great day today! Love you!

Last weekend we celebrated my Nanny's birthday by taking a limo out to Bodega Bay and driving along Hwy 1. The trip along Hwy 1 made a few us feel quite sick with all those turns but all in all it was still a fun day! Here are a few photos. We stopped at Rocker Oysterfeller's in Valley Ford for drinks and appetizers (YUM!) and Lucas Wharf in Bodega Bay for dinner. We went back to my Nanny's for dessert. I had made her a tiramisu cake per her request but silly me didn't take a photo! I did take a photo this morning of the last piece. I had to eat it! It was too lonely sitting in the fridge by its lonesome self. I used The Galley Gourmet's recipe and it was great! This may be my favorite cake now. It's so light I can eat 2 pieces! I can never do that and I know I shouldn't, but since I can, I will!


Do you like bloody mary's? 
That was my mom's but I wish I had ordered one. It was soooo good!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Black and White Bean Chicken Chili

This is the perfect recipe for fall or winter. You will feel so comfy from the way it warms your insides. Plus, as an added bonus you won't have to be slaving over the stove after work to enjoy this tasty dinner. I made this after work and before yoga last week and it was exactly what I needed. David loved it and proclaimed that I better make it again, like next week! Of course I won't be doing that since there are always too many enticing recipes on foodgawker but I will be repeating it again this winter.

Black and White bean Chicken Chili
Adapted from Cooking Pleasures

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T olive oil
2  (14.5 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
2 (4 oz) cans diced green chiles
1 T ground cumin
1 1/2 t dried oregano
3/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

1. Cook chicken, onion, and garlic in a large pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onion is soft and chicken is no longer pink. Stir frequently.
2. Add all remaining ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer 10-20 minutes.

* I say 10-20 minutes because you could certainly serve it after 10 minutes but, I waited 20 and it gave it a little more time to let the flavors meld together. Depending on how much time you have, go shorter or longer.

* This chili is kind of soupy, but I really liked it!

Ryder is enjoying the fire since it's the first time we've turned it on this season. He's been napping next to it all morning. 
Have you had to use your heater/fireplace yet? 
Our house was 54 degrees this morning when we woke up so when David turned the fireplace on, I didn't object for once!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thick Focaccia

When I first started baking classes my favorite bread to make was focaccia. This was one of the recipes given to us although this wasn't my favorite one. I seem to have misplaced the very first recipe I made in school. This one is by all means good though and it provides big thick fluffy pieces. I like to salt and pepper the top and then eat it plain right from the oven. Or dip the pieces in a sauce or salad dressing with dinner.

What is more impressive than homemade bread? 
Try it out today!

Thick Focaccia
Adapted from Cathy Burgett March 2006

1 Tbs + 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 cups bread flour (1 lb 11 oz)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil, divided + 4 Tbs
1 Tbs salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Let sit. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add sugar, flour, salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil; mix on low speed for about a minute. Slowly add in the dissolved yeast water. Mix for about 5 minutes on a medium speed until dough comes together by forming a ball and is slightly sticky. 
2. Transfer dough to an lightly greased bowl and cover in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in bulk
3. In an oiled half sheet pan, press the dough evenly and cover lightly in a warm place. Let it rise again for 1 hour. 
4. Dimple the dough using your fingers. In a small ramekin or bowl add about 4 tablespoons olive oil and mix with about 4 tablespoons water. Using your fingers, drip the water/olive oil mixture all over the focaccia. Season with salt and pepper. 
5. In a 425 degree oven, bake the focaccia for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Let cool in the pan on a rack, serve warm or at room temperature.

Some notes for this recipe:
*I use a heating pad to speed up the process of rising. It took my dough about 1 hour to completely double in size. It also took only about half an hour to rise again after I spread it out in the half sheet pan. 

*You can also make this dough without a mixer and dough hook. Simply place the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix in the olive oil with your hands. Pour the dissolved yeast water into your bowl. Once it's combined, on a clean work surface, knead your dough by hand for about 5 minutes. You'll  get a great arm workout but it does the same thing.

*My bread was done at the 30 minute mark.

*I used all-purpose flour after I realized we didn't have bread flour. It still worked but I think the bread flour would have been better.
Do you ever decide to make a recipe and then realize later you're missing an ingredient? 
Ugh, I hate that! 
That's when being good at improvising really helps.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brew Review: Sierra Nevada Eastate

Beer: Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale
Date: 10/28/11
Type: Organic Ale
Alcohol: 6.7%
Package Type: 22 oz bottle
Location Brewed: Chico, CA
Price: Unknow

Aroma: HOPS, bread/yeast

Body & Texture: Bitter in the mouth but goes down smooth. Low carbonation.

Aftertaste: Intense bitterness of hops and grapefruit.

Overall Impression: Tastes like a strong but flat IPA. The grapefruit flavor in this beer was very interesting and fun to try. We were given this beer as a gift from my dad so the price was unknown to us. We finished the bottle between David & I but we weren't big fans. Although it was drinkable by all means we both didn't think it'd be a beer we'd purchase for ourselves. The bottle was beautiful though and we were really happy to try a new beer.

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