Friday, February 26, 2016

Beer Friday: Brewery Tour in Eugene, Oregon

In this special edition of #BeerFriday, we're talking about one of Oregon's lesser-known brewery destinations: Eugene!

Eugene, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

Z and I drove down to Eugene (about a 2-hour, 10-minute [mostly scenic] drive from Portland) on President's Day. We both had the day off, and the weather was beautiful - sunny and 60+ degrees. We had heard great things about Eugene's beer scene, so it seemed like the perfect day to wander around and check it out.

Immediately upon arriving to Eugene's quaint downtown (it's a college town, so it may not be the quietest), we found public parking - which was free, thanks to the holiday! We parked and walked one block to the hopping shop and restaurant area, and found some familiar Portland haunts: Sizzle Pie and Voodoo Doughnut. Other various local shops and businesses graced the well-kept downtown as well, and although it was small, it was still nice to walk around and explore.

From there, we scouted out our must-visit breweries, which were all a short walk from downtown. Here's where we went, in chronological order:

Falling Sky Brewing

Falling Sky Brewery | A Hoppy Medium

A long, open brewery with plenty of communal picnic tables - inside AND outside - with board games to boot. Playing Connect 4 outside here while drinking an Alpha Acid Rain IPA was my ideal way to kick off our time in Eugene. (Falling Sky also serves food, but we just came for the beer).

Ninkasi Brewing Company

Ninkasi Brewing Company | A Hoppy Medium

Any brewery with a decor focused on teal, black, and gray (and pulls it off) gets my nod of approval. We spent little time inside, as the large, sunny deck - with a fire pit to boot - had our immediate attention. I'm actually not a huge fan of Ninkasi's widely available brews, but I did really enjoy the Gingersnap Brown Ale. It was definitely reminiscent of a gingersnap cookie, without being overly sweet.

Hop Valley Brewing Co.

Hop Valley Brewing Co. | A Hoppy Medium

Another sunny outdoor patio? Sure, why not? We settled in this spot for another brew and dinner, and I'm glad we did. The Redside Prophet red ale was tasty, especially paired with dangerously delicious Stuffed Garlic Knots and the Mediterranean Panini with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, grilled onions, Feta cheese, basil pesto, and hummus, all on grilled Italian bread. The sandwich was served with housemade chips, and it was the perfect amount of food - along with the knots - to split between the two of us.

Oakshire Public House

Oakshire Public House | A Hoppy Medium

The final stop on our self-guided brewery tour was Oakshire Public House. Here, there were so many tap choices that both Z and I decided to go with a flight (inside this time, as the sun was going down and we were getting cold). My sampler consisted of: Citrafonix IPA, Watershed IPA, The Perfect Storm Double IPA, and their Barleywine, from 2014. (Oakshire has more than just IPAs on tap - I'm just on an IPA kick these days!). In all honesty, none of these beers blew me away, but I did enjoy the Barleywine the most (go figure!). Still, this was a fun spot to check out, and I love being able to sample a few different beers when I visit a new-to-me brewery.

Overall, our day in Eugene, Oregon was absolutely delightful (and filling...). Being an easy day trip to Portland, I highly recommend checking it out!

What's your favorite town/city for self-guided brewery tours? In Oregon, or anywhere?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock

Homemade vegetable stock = literally the easiest thing ever.

Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock | A Hoppy Medium

The hardest part is remembering to keep vegetable scraps and throw them in the freezer. All in one big freezer bag. Once you start, it gets easier. It's just remembering those first couple of times.

See...back in the day, I used to reply on recipes on the interwebs that told me I needed a whole onion, a whole leek, whole carrots, etc. etc. etc. in order to make a delicious stock. And while those whole ingredients may make the stock richer (maybe?), making use of vegetable scraps that usually just end up in the garbage still yielded a divine pot of stock. Not wasting perfectly usable food + having a much better ingredient (with much less sodium) than the store-bought versions is a win-win in my book.

Here's how easy stock is to make:

Step 1: Save any and all vegetable scraps over the course of a few weeks, or until you have a large freezer bag (at least) full. Some items I saved: onion "butts" and skins; carrot greens and tops; herbs that were only a day or two from going bad, but were still good enough to save; asparagus bottoms (the ones you snap off and discard, typically); and so on. Really, any vegetable scrap you have it! It will only add more flavor to your stock.

Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock | A Hoppy Medium

Step 2: Once you have a large freezer bag full of the good stuff, it's time to make your stock. Rinse all of the frozen vegetable "leftovers," and then place them in a large soup pot. Cover the vegetables with water (the less water you add, the more rich your stock will be, but just be sure the water covers the vegetables by at least one inch regardless). Season liberally with salt and black pepper.

Step 3: Bring the pot to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and let simmer for one hour (it can go even longer if you'd like it to; more time will only make it taste better!).

Step 4: Take the pot off the stove. Set your strainer over a big bowl and line it with cheese cloth or coffee filters. Pour the stock through. Divide the stock into storage containers, cool completely, and then freeze (or refrigerate, if using within a day or two).

See how easy that is??

Here's some soup inspiration for when your stock is ready:

-Vegan Where's the Beef? Stew
-Detox Vegetable Soup
-Spiced Chickpea and Quinoa Soup

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Current Obsessions

I wrote about my "current obsessions" on my old blog many times, so I've decided to bring it back here! I am definitely one to go through phases when it comes to food, drinks, TV shows, books, exercises, etc. etc. etc. So this My Current Obsessions series will highlight all of the random stuff I am loving lately. Feel free to share in the comments what currently has you obsessed, too.

Here goes!

Breakfast Burritos
I have one almost every single weekday morning. I used to be a cereal and toast gal, but once I started making breakfast burritos at home...everything changed. I'm actually satiated until lunchtime, and I love that I can add whatever veggies, hot sauces, etc. to my morning wrap that I want, so it doesn't get boring. My current go-to: One scrambled egg, crumbled Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage, a slice of Havarti cheese, avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce. Amazinggg.


Shameless | A Hoppy Medium

I've talked about this show before, but I have been obsessed with "Shameless" since it began (well, I discovered it in their second season, but back-tracked and watched the entire first season eventually). Anyway, this show is FANTASTIC, and is on Sunday nights on Showtime. It's funny, dramatic, heartfelt, emotional, and hectic all at the same time, with some really real messages woven throughout each episode. It's phenomenal, and William H. Macy plays one perfect addict.

Sticky Hands' Tropical Slam

Block 15 Sticky Hands Tropical Slam | A Hoppy Medium

Block 15 - one of my current favorite Oregon breweries - recently canned this variation of their regular Sticky Hands IPA, and I am seriously obsessed. Like...can't-reach-for-any-other-beer-in-the-fridge-right-now-obsessed. This fruit-forward, almost juicy IPA comes in 16-ounce cans, making it that much more crushable. It's seriously delicious.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Kristen originally tipped me off to this book, and I am so glad I downloaded it (to my first generation Kindle). I've gone through a phase of dud books lately, but this one has finally grasped my attention. I seriously look forward to going to bed every night (even more than usual...) so I can read a few more pages! (Gillian Flynn is also the author of "Gone Girl," among other books).

Portland Coffee

Dragonfly Coffee House, NW Portland | A Hoppy Medium
Dragonfly Coffee House

I've always been a coffee fiend. Heck, when I was a teenager, I drank most of the coffee I brewed at Honey Dew Donuts and lived off Coffee Coolattas on my days off. (Super healthy!) But over the years, I've definitely become a bit of a coffee snob...and no java in Portland has yet to disappoint. Some of my favorite local haunts so far are Dragonfly Coffee House (cold brew year-round, which is apparently not a thing here); Barista; and Water Avenue and Portland Roasting Coffee, both of which I've only had in bean form thus far.

What are you currently obsessed with? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Where's the Beef? Stew

Growing up, my Mom made beef stew often on the winter weekends. I remember loving how the house smelled while her beef stew bubbled away in the Crockpot all day long.

Where's the Beef? Stew | A Hoppy Medium #vegan

Although I no longer eat beef (or any meat besides seafood!), I still crave my Mom's beef stew this time of year. The dreary, cloudy days here in Portland have only taken my craving to the next level...which inspired this vegan beef-less stew recipe. It's not built off my Mom's recipe, but it sure is delicious (and the leftovers are even better).

If you're looking for a lighter version of the traditional beef stew, this recipe's for you.

Where's the Beef? Stew
Yields: 6-8 servings
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 large yellow, diced
-3 celery ribs celery, chopped
-3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
-2 portabella mushrooms, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
-4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth + 1 cup water
-2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-Dried thyme (about 1/2 teaspoon)
-Dried tarragon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
-1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown slightly, stirring frequently.
2.) Stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
3.) Add the vegetable broth, water, potatoes, tomato paste, dried herbs, and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low (not a simmer!). Stir in the rosemary and cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
4.) Taste the soup, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle stew into bowls and drizzle each serving with a tiny bit of olive oil for extra flavor.

Where's the Beef? Stew | A Hoppy Medium #vegan

Chock-full of hearty potatoes, mushrooms, and a slew of other nutrient-rich vegetables - plus the slight smokiness from the paprika and the hit of fresh rosemary in each bite - this vegan version of one of my favorite winter soups is on-point.

The only thing you need now is some rustic bread to dip into it!

What's your favorite winter comfort meal? 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beer Friday: Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing

On most Fridays, 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! 

Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. | A Hoppy Medium #beerfriday

Winter = stout weather.

Ok, I admit: I drink stouts all year long (and you should too, if you enjoy them!). But during the colder, rainier (at least here in Portland...) months, a bold, creamy, high ABV stout just tastes that much better. Am I right??

This here imperial stout also happens to be available...basically, everywhere in the U.S. So read on, grab a sixer, and have yourself some winter-warming sips of a stout!

What: Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Style: Imperial stout

ABV: 10.2%

Tasting Notes: Vanilla beans, roasty coffee beans, and a teeny bit of caramel make this high ABV stout a little too easy to drink. The mouthfeel is a tad on the thin side for an imperial stout, but the aforementioned rich flavors help to make that nothing but an afterthought.

Pairing Suggestion: Sierra Nevada's website recommends chocolate mousse, braised short ribs, tart raspberry cheesecake, and gorgonzola cheese. I agree with all of these suggestions, but would also add brownies for good measure. ;)

Where Can I Find It?
 So many places! Here's the link you need to find it in bottles or on tap near you. 

*Pro tip: this beer will only get better with age, so if you can wait to pop a bottle or two, I definitely recommend doing so. 

Are you a stout fan? If so, what's one of your favorite stouts to sip on?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

S'more Brownies with Mini Peanut Butter Cups

I remember my first s'more.  It was at my aunt and uncle's house in Lovell, Maine (i.e. the middle of nowhere; although, now it's home to one of America's best craft beer bars. Go figure).

S'more Brownies with Mini Peanut Butter Cups | A Hoppy Medium

Anyway, my uncle created a big bonfire, and me, my siblings, and my four cousins huddled around it. We were handed sticks, given a quick lesson on how to place the jumbo marshmallows on said stick, and went to town playing with fire. Ah, the good old days.

Fast forward to this past summer, where I learned that s'mores can be made even better...with peanut butter cups. That's right: substitute the milk chocolate bars for a peanut butter cup, and you have yourself a mind-blowing s'more.

So, that's how I doctored up this Betty Crocker S'more Brownie recipe. I sprinkled the brownies with peanut butter cups instead of chocolate, for the Super Bowl. But really, calories never count on a Sunday no matter what's on the TV. So feel free to make these this weekend...or tonight.

S'more Brownies with Mini Peanut Butter Cups | A Hoppy Medium

S'more Brownies with Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Yields: 16 servings
Adapted from Betty Crocker
-1 box Betty Crocker brownie mix (or, your favorite brownie mix)
-Water, vegetable oil, and egg called for on brownie mix box
-2 cups miniature marshmallows
-3 graham crackers, broken into small pieces
-1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups, roughly chopped (I used Justin's); or, large peanut butter cups cut into chunks

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F for dark or non-stick pan). Make brownies as directed on box. (I used a greased 13x9 glass baking pan). After removing pan from oven, set oven to broil.
2.) Immediately sprinkle marshmallows and graham crackers over warm brownies. Broil about 4 to 5 inches from heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or until marshmallows are golden brown. (Watch carefully - marshmallows and graham crackers will brown quickly!). Sprinkle with peanut butter cups. To serve warm, cool for about 30 minutes. Otherwise, let cool completely before cutting into brownies.

S'more Brownies with Mini Peanut Butter Cups | A Hoppy Medium

No, these are not the healthiest. And yes, your hands will get sticky from the caramelized marshmallows. But you need to live a little sometimes, am I right?? Plus: napkins were created for a reason.

Do you remember your first s'more?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spicy Seitan Tacos

I used to be weirded out by seitan.

Spicy Seitan Tacos | A Hoppy Medium

The texture, unappealing color, and fake meat flavor was what turned me off right from the beginning.

But over the years, I've slowly started to appreciate seitan...because I've learned how to properly flavor it; and serve it. And in tacos is where my newfound love for seitan is the strongest.

I almost didn't even share this recipe because we ate these tacos too fast for me to take any great pictures of it - but the fact that we loved the tacos that much made me realize I needed to share it with you guys.

So, let's give seitan some the form of delicious tacos.

Spicy Seitan Tacos
Yields: 4 servings
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
-1 large (or 1 1/2 medium) yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
-1/4 cup fresh lime juice
-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
-2 teaspoons honey
-1 clove garlic, minced
-Ground cumin
-Chile powder
-Salt and black pepper
-1 8-ounce package seitan, rinsed, drained, and thinly sliced
-1 cup shredded cheese (we used a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack)
-8 6-inch flour tortillas
For serving: lime wedges, thinly sliced purple cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and extra fresh cilantro

1.) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and onions, and cook 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, stirring often.
2.) Meanwhile, whisk together lime juice, cilantro, honey, garlic, cumin, chile powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
3.) Add seitan to bell pepper mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until seitan begins to brown. Stir in lime juice mixture, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4.) Meanwhile, sprinkle even amounts of cheese on the middle of each tortilla. Place in the oven/toaster oven/microwave until cheese has melted and tortillas are warm. Serve with seitan mixture and suggested toppings (above).

The honey-lime juice-spice mixture is what really puts these tacos over the top. It adds a great zest, kick of spice, and sweetness to the otherwise flavorless seitan. I highly recommend not skipping on the cabbage, either - it adds a much-needed crunchy texture to the tacos.

Are you a fan of seitan? If so, what's your favorite way to prepare it?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Red-Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts and Parsley

Guys. Turns out we've been cooking pasta wrong all along.

Red-Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts & Parsley | A Hoppy Medium

Instead of boiling water, we should have been boiling RED WINE.

What were we thinking???

Red-Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts & Parsley | A Hoppy Medium

Z found this recipe for Red-Wine Spaghetti a few weeks ago, and I immediately knew we had to make it. I mean, the recipe basically tells you to boil carbs in wine, and that it is a good idea. Obviously, I'd be on board.

But the best part about this method of cooking pasta is that the red wine gives the noodles so much savory flavor. And thanks to cooking all the alcohol off, you don't feel like you're biting into warm wine, either. This method really just elevates a somewhat simple pasta dish into a glorious meal.

What are we waiting for? Here's how to make the best damn pasta you've ever cooked.

Red-Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts & Parsley
Yields: 4 generous servings
Adapted slightly from Food & Wine
-5 cups water
-3 1/4 cups dry red wine (I used a local Pinot Noir, and it worked just fine)
-1 pound spaghetti
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-4 small garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
-1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
-1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
-1/2 cup grated good Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
-Black pepper

1.) In a large saucepan, combine the water with 3 cups of the wine and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
2.) In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Stir in the pasta and cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed, 2 minutes. Add the parsley, nuts, the 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and toss. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and serve with extra grated cheese and an additional sprinkling of parsley.

Red-Wine Spaghetti with Walnuts & Parsley | A Hoppy Medium

I easy is that? AND you get to cook carbs in alcohol. Hallelujah!

Have you ever cooked pasta in red wine before? If not, will you now??