Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays

This week, I am doing orientation and training for my new job. Z and I also have some sort of family-and-or-friend get-together every night this week. I'm still slightly jet-lagged from our red eye flight Thursday night from Portland to Boston. And I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping.

My niece, Aubrey, and I reunited for the first time since we moved across the country!

But, thanks to my extended family's annual party this past Saturday night, I was reminded what the holidays are all about. (This is also my first time living so far away from my family, so coming home for the holidays meant more to me than ever this year). Not the stress. Not the rushing around. The holidays are about taking time to reflect on what really matters in your life, and to just downright enjoy them. Hug your family members. Make time to see friends. Eat that extra piece of pie. We can all start stressing again in the new year - but, for now, take the time to just enjoy the one time of year we can all feel a little peace.

Happy Holidays to you. See you again next week!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Z and I went to all three locations of Lardo multiple times in one month.

Lardo's Vegetarian Meatball Sub in Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

Who knew a restaurant with that name could keep two vegetarians so happy and full on each return visit?

Lardo's Vegetarian Meatball Sub in Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

The sandwich above is their new vegetarian sandwich, the Vegetarian Meatball Sub ($10) - owner Rick Gencarelli's current favorite, despite all the other meat-laden sandwiches that grace the menu. Homemade mushroom-lentil meatballs are smothered in flavorful marinara sauce, topped with a generous amount of melted mozzarella and fresh basil, all sandwiched between giant pieces of toasted garlic bread. The sandwich is served with a hot cup of extra marinara for dipping (and an array of hot sauces for us spice fiends). 

The sandwich may look large, but don't be fooled: Z and I have each downed a whole one on multiple occasions.

In addition to the sandwiches, each location of Lardo also has fantastic beer on tap. If you hurry to the Southwest spot, you may still be able to snag Block 15's Sticky Hands (a current IPA favorite) and/or Figgy Pudding on tap!

If you're in Portland for a holiday vacation - or, uh, you live here - definitely head to one of Lardo's locations for a giant sandwich (and a side of Fried Brussels Sprouts, $4), good beer, and a super friendly staff. 

Lardo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Lardo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Lardo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 14, 2015

Spiced Chickpea and Quinoa Soup

I'll be the first to say that the holiday season is a time for indulging. But amidst all of those cocktails, seasonal beers, desserts, and appetizers - it's nice to eat something healthy every once and a while. That's where this soup comes in.

Spiced Quinoa and Chickpea Soup | A Hoppy Medium

Chock-full of protein, vegetables, and flavor, this soup is just the detox you need after eating 16 candy canes. It's also super easy to whip up, so you can get dinner started and finished while you finish wrapping those last few presents.

Spiced Chickpea and Quinoa Soup
Yields: 6 servings
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 red onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-Ground cumin
-Chili powder
-Pinch of cayenne
-Generous pinch of ground cinnamon
-Salt and black pepper
-6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
-1 cup quinoa
-2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1 cup frozen corn kernels
-1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
-1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
-Grated cheddar, lime wedges, and tortilla chips, for serving

1.) Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and spices. Cook until soft, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring often.
2.) Slowly add the broth, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to help release the spices/flavors. Add the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the chickpeas, corn, and tomatoes. Cook until the vegetables are warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.
3.) Serve the soup topped with the cilantro, cheddar, lime wedges, and chips (for dipping).

Spiced Quinoa and Chickpea Soup | A Hoppy Medium

Hearty, nutritious, and even more delicious when washed down with a holiday beer (or two). 

What's your favorite indulgence this time of year? Mine: red and green M&Ms!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Beer Friday: Figgy Pudding by Block 15

Every Friday, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers!

Holiday beers. I usually hate 'em. I think it's the overused, artificial "holiday spices" in them that just rub my palate the wrong way. (Rewind to 7 years ago, and my all-time favorite seasonal beer was Harpoon Winter Warmer. I think I drank too many of them).

Figgy Pudding by Block 15 | A Hoppy Medium

Now, I am slowly learning to like certain seasonal, holiday-inspired beers again - but only those that lack that fake, tastes-like-a-Yankee-Candle flavor. And Figgy Pudding is one of them.

Brewery: Block 15, Corvallis, Oregon (I've only been to their new Tap Room (they have two locations in Corvallis), and it has a great atmosphere - with delicious food and plenty of fresh beers on tap!)

What: Figgy Pudding 2015

ABV: 11%

Tasting Notes: Let's be honest upfront: this beer isn't amazing fresh (Block 15 suggests aging it, and I do, too!), but when it comes to holiday brews - per my note above - it's a solid choice. After fermentation, Figgy Pudding is aged in brandy barrels and then seasonal gems - like mission figs, cinnamon, and nutmeg - are added to the mix. Fresh, and on tap, I loved the sweet molasses, subtle dark fruits, and real notes of cinnamon and nutmeg (vs. the artificial, powdery stuff). It's a strong brew, but also one that's worth savoring and sipping.

Pairing Suggestion: This beer has a lot going on, so I really just enjoyed it on its own. However, I can see it pairing well with a festive holiday feast, or even "heavier" cheeses for a holiday party appetizer (I'm thinking goat cheese or a nice aged cheddar, for example).

Where Can I Find It? At either one of Block 15's locations. (Or, find an Oregon friend who will send you some ;)). It's also been on tap at a few places around Oregon, so check Untappd to see where you can try a glass near you.

Are you a fan of holiday beers? If yes, what's your favorite? 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Easy Chipotle Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles = a great (and delicious) way to use up leftovers.

I first had chilaquiles when we lived in Boston, at a restaurant called Catalyst. The crunchy, salty chips, the fresh avocado, the fluffy eggs, the flavorful sauce - I was sold. They're basically like breakfast nachos...and I love nachos.

Easy Chipotle Chilaquiles | A Hoppy Medium

Don't mind the one tortilla chip with a bite taken out of it. I had to make sure they were crispy enough! And I was starving.

I really hadn't had chilaquiles again until last weekend, when we had a tortilla, eggs, and cilantro that needed to be used up. With all of those chilaquile-friendly ingredients, I knew I had to make them. It was a sign!

Easy Chipotle Chilaquiles | A Hoppy Medium

Beermosas not included. (Although, they are encouraged).

Despite all of the steps in this recipe, this is actually an incredibly easy breakfast or brunch dish to make at-home, so don't let the number of steps overwhelm you. Actually, it's almost embarrassingly easy, but it was too delicious to not share it with you guys.

Easy Chipotle Chilaquiles
Yields: 2 servings
-1 flour tortilla
-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
-4 eggs, scrambled
-Salt and black pepper
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 1/2 cups chipotle salsa (we used Trader Joe's brand, but you can use any brand you like)
-Cheddar cheese (or, your cheese of choice)
-Chopped cilantro, for garnish

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
2.) Brush the top of the tortilla with a light layer of oil (use about 1 tablespoon total for the baking sheet and tortilla). Cut your tortilla into 12 wedges (or "chips").
3.) Arrange the tortilla wedges in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet. (Place the wedges un-oiled side facing down so that they have contact with the oil on the baking sheet). Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over teach chip, and bake for 8-12 minutes. (Watch them carefully, so they do not burn - the chips are done when the edges are crisp and slightly lifted from the tray).
4.) While the chips bake, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook until they are at your desired scrambled egg deliciousness (meaning, whether you prefer them wet or dry). Right before they're done cooking, add the cheese and allow to melt completely.
5.) In a separate pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat to simmer, add the salsa, and cook until heated through.
6.) When the chips are done and have sat for 2-3 minutes (they get crispier after they come out of the oven), place an event amount of chips in two separate bowls. Pour the salsa mixture evenly over each bed of chips. Top with the cheesy eggs and garnish with cilantro. (If you have avocado on-hand, use it!).

Easy Chipotle Chilaquiles | A Hoppy Medium

The salty, crispy chips with the smoky chipotle salsa and the fluffy, cheesy eggs...you have to make this for brunch this weekend. Have. To. (Just don't forget the beermosas!).

Have you ever had chilaquiles before?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Merry Cranberry Cocktails

When I turned 21 years old, I had barely ever drank before (you're welcome, Mom and Dad!). I didn't know the difference between a good cocktail and a bad cocktail, so my initial favorites were Malibu and Pineapple (remembering the taste of that cocktail still makes me cringe to this day) and Cranberry-Vodka. Back then, I loved the tart, yet artificially sweetened cranberry juice mixed with the only spirit I knew (besides Malibu Rum, of course. Cringe).

Merry Cranberry Cocktails | A Hoppy Medium

Fast forward 10 years later, and I find myself mixing up a new kind of cranberry-vodka cocktail in my kitchen. I like to think this version is a bit more refined than the cranberry-vodkas of my yesteryear. 

Merry Cranberry Cocktails | A Hoppy Medium

Merry Cranberry Cocktails
Yields: 2 cocktails

Cranberry Simple Syrup:
-2 1/4 cups fresh cranberries
-1 cup water
-1 cup granulated sugar

-Ice cubes (we used enough to fill two tall tumbler glasses)
-1 ounce Cranberry Simple Syrup (aka 1 shot glass full)
-2.5 ounces vodka
-Ginger beer
-Squirt of lime juice
-Extra fresh cranberries, for garnish


Cranberry Simple Syrup:
1.) In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until cranberries are tender but haven't burst, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then strain through a colander. Discard cranberries.

1.) Fill glasses with ice. Add cranberry syrup and vodka; fill the glasses the rest of the way with ginger beer. Stir carefully. Add a squirt of lime juice to each glass, and top with fresh cranberries for a festive garnish. Cheers!

Merry Cranberry Cocktails | A Hoppy Medium

The ginger beer in these cocktails adds a necessary splash of flavor and festive bubbles, while the tart cranberries are nicely mellowed out in their syrup form. The Cranberry Simple Syrup also makes a good amount of leftovers, so feel free to use it in any of your favorite cocktails this holiday season for a festive touch of flavor (and color!). 

What's your favorite cocktail to sip during the holidays?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Beer Friday: Bourbon County Stout 2015

Every Friday, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers!

Bourbon County Stout 2015 | A Hoppy Medium

Every Black Friday, Goose Island releases my all-time favorite beer: Bourbon County. While there are several variants of the stout, the original is always the best, in my alcoholic opinion.

Let's put it this way: My version of heaven would have Bourbon County on tap at all times. That's how much I love this damn beer.

Brewery: Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois

What: Bourbon County Stout, 2015

ABV: 14.3%

Tasting Notes: This brew always gets better with age (and don't drink it ice cold out of the fridge; room temperature is best!), but it's also impressively delicious fresh. Not for the faint of palates, it's nicely boozy, with the bourbon being wonderfully smoothed out by the rich chocolate and vanilla bean notes. The mouthfeel of this stout is also incredibly sultry, leaving you wanting to drink it down much faster than its high ABV allows you to.

Pairing Suggestion: Any dessert that's chocolate and/or coconut-based. (Side note: Have a French press? Infuse Bourbon County with your own flavors. Z and I personally love infusing a bottle with toasted coconut, cinnamon, and chocolate - inspired by their Proprietor's variant!).

Where Can I Find It? Given this beer's popularity, it can be very hard to find on tap (except on Black Friday and during Goose Island's Migration Week), but finding it in bottles should be a little easier. Click here to see where Bourbon County's available near you. Trust me: it's worth the hunt!

Have you tried this year's Bourbon County Stout yet? And/or any of its variants? If so, which one's your favorite? 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tofu Tikka Masala {Vegan}

Every time I wear white, I spill something red on myself. Wine, sauce, beet juice (true story). Every. Damn. Time. It never fails.

Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala | A Hoppy Medium

This time was no different. I was [stupidly] wearing one of my only white cardigans while I made the tomato-based sauce for this Tofu Tikka Masala. And it splattered everywhere...on me. I was out of Tide to Go pens, so I frantically doused my shirt in water in hopes that would remove the stains while I finished dinner.

Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala | A Hoppy Medium

Dinner ended up being too delicious to care, and in some sort of miracle, the stains were gone once I remembered the sweater in the other room. I'd call that a successful night (and meal).

Tofu Tikka Masala
Yields: 6 servings
-16 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
-Salt and black pepper
-1 yellow onion, diced
-6 ounces tomato paste
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-2 teaspoons ground turmeric
-1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-Pinch of cayenne
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
-1 cup frozen peas
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-Chopped cilantro, for garnish

1.) Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the tofu on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until crispy on the outside and slightly browned, turning tofu at least once so they brown on all sides. Set aside.
2.) Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion, tomato paste, and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has darkened and the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices to the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
3.) Add the tomatoes with their juices, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. (You can continue to crush the tomatoes gradually as the sauce cooks - the goal is to not have huge chunks of tomato in the sauce at the end). Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits. Cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes.
4.) Add in the coconut milk and tofu. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Basmati rice and warm naan. (We also served ours with Trader Joe's Mango-Ginger Chutney - not necessary, but definitely delicious!).

*Side note: I almost never measure my spices, but I included measurements above to give you an idea of how much I put in of each. Just taste along the way to make sure the sauce is flavorful and fragrant to your liking. 

Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala | A Hoppy Medium

This sauce is creamy and incredibly flavorful, without being overly heavy (like a lot of traditional tikka masalas can be). I loved the peas for the added nutrition and texture, but feel free to add your favorite vegetables as well.

This dish makes a cozy, comforting meal on a chilly night, without being full of guilt. So make yourself a big bowl and dig the heck in!

Do you also always spill on yourself when you wear white? Or am I just that clumsy?