Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scenes From Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and holiday weekend! Here are some scenes from our relaxing, yet fun-filled, holiday:

Thanksgiving Tablescape | A Hoppy Medium

Eggs Benedict with Seitan Hash from Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, MA | A Hoppy Medium

Bourbon County 2016 release | A Hoppy Medium

1.) The beautiful Thanksgiving table d├ęcor at my older sister’s house in Maine. (For the meal, I contributed this Vegetarian Wellington + vegan mushroom gravy, as well as these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars).
2.) Me and one of my nieces, Braylee – accidentally matching!
3.) Z and his younger brother, Max, at our second Thanksgiving Friday night
4.) Continuing my holiday diet with brunch at Veggie Galaxy Friday morning…this was the Eggs Benedict with seitan hash – SO GOOD.
5.) That Eggs Benedict fueled us for a day of Bourbon County shopping – AKA how the Lahey clan does Black Friday. This beer – and its variants – are only released once a year, on Black Friday. Cheers to that!

Tell me all about your holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

How is Thanksgiving this week?? And why was there snow on my car this morning? Fall is going by way too fast.

If you’re like me and have absolutely nothing prepared for Thanksgiving, fear not: here’s at least a dessert recipe you can easily whip up for the big day. Who needs dinner when you have a full dessert table anyway?

I have been making these pumpkin bars for…years. They’re oh-so moist and full of flavor thanks to the addition of some fall-friendly spices…and a touch of garam masala, which gives these bars that wow factor. (You can forego the garam masala if you don’t have any on-hand, but it does give these bars a little something-something, if you’re down to buy (or make) some!).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars | A Hoppy Medium

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Yields: 24 bars
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 tsp. ginger
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1 tsp. garam masala (optional)
-1 tsp. baking soda
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 cup canned pumpkin puree
-1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.) With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
3.) Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
4.) Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars | A Hoppy Medium

These pumpkin bars are basically fall baked into a cake-like form…with chocolate chips. Your Thanksgiving dessert table needs these.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Or are you totally unprepared like I am? (This happened to me last year, too, by the way…).

Friday, November 18, 2016

Beer Friday: The Substance by Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

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! 

The Substance, Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. | A Hoppy Medium

We drank a lot of great beer in the Pacific Northwest. But in my humble, liver-quivering opinion, nothing beats East Coast IPAs.

Many of them are juicy with just the right amount of hop presence on the tongue to prevent them from being too sweet - a fantastic balance of crushable flavors.

And Bissell Brothers, located in Portland, Maine, is one brewery that has perfected these "hop juice" creations. 

What: The Substance Ale by Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

Style: IPA

ABV: 6.6%

Tasting Notes: Dank yet juicy and oh-so crushable, this IPA quenches my thirst no matter what time of the year it is. Available weekly via can and on tap at the brewery (they got new digs since we moved - great space!), this brew is one of the few that's worth the you will likely be in line to get it. Brewed with Falconers Flight, Centennial, Appolo, Summit, and Chinook hops, this beer packs a hoppy punch with a bright, well-balanced finish. 

Pairing Suggestion: Um, everything? But for a few recommendations: something spicy, like these Spicy Seitan Tacos or Spicy Chickpea Salad Sandwiches. Or, since this is a juicy beer - pair it with brunch! This Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, & Tomato Frittata would be a great pairing.

Where Can I Find It? The brewery in Portland, Maine! Or, if you're lucky, you might be able to find it on tap at these Maine locations

What have you been drinking lately?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Highlights From Our Cross-Country Road Trip

Wow. What a whirlwind month it's been!

Driving cross-country | A Hoppy Medium

After taking 11 days to drive cross-country home to Boston, we quickly returned to our respective offices...and life has been non-stop ever since. As I write this, I am actually on a plane to Orlando for my company's customer conference. Talk about getting right back to reality!

Our trip home was nothing short of incredible, though. It was a lot of driving, but our trusty Subaru Outback stayed in great shape the whole way - we didn't even encounter so much as a flat tire. Here was our full itinerary:

Oregon ---> Redwood Forest ---> Reno, NV ---> Park City, UT ---> Denver, CO ---> Kansas City, MO ---> St. Louis, MO ---> Louisville, KY ---> Asheville, NC ---> Richmond, VA ---> Boston, MA

Along the way, we saw a ton of old and new friends, ate a lot of great food, sampled a ton of great beer, and saw #allthesights. It would take me days to recap our entire trip, so instead, here are some of the highlights from our 11-day journey across the country (in no particular order).

1.) The Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest | A Hoppy Medium

Redwood Forest | A Hoppy Medium

We hit the Redwoods on the tail-end of the typhoon that was hitting the Pacific Northwest, so a lot of the parks were closed. However, we stopped at one of the park ranger offices and got some fantastic recommendations for open parks - and frolicked through the massive trees in the rain. It was really a remarkable experience, and definitely a big highlight for both of us!

2.) Louisville, KY
We stopped in Louisville on a whim - it was a great way to cut our original ride from St. Louis to Asheville shorter - and I am so glad we did. Louisville really surprised us: the downtown was gorgeous and quaint, with Louisville Slugger baseball bats scattered throughout, recognizing famous baseball players who used them. (Z loved that part!). Against the Grain Brewery was also a fun stop for dinner and fresh beers, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options to boot.

3.) Vegetarian Reuben from Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville, NC

Vegetarian Reuben from Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville, NC | A Hoppy Medium

Z actually ordered this, and I had major food envy. I good does this look? It was phenomenal, and definitely a food highlight from our travels.

4.) The roadside scenery

Salt Flats in Utah | A Hoppy Medium

On the side of the road, somewhere in California | A Hoppy Medium

Middle of nowhere | A Hoppy Medium

From the Salt Flats in Utah (first photo) to the snowy mountains in Wyoming to the gorgeous views of the Pacific in California (second photo), we saw some gorgeous, ever-changing sights along the way. 

5.) The beer...obviously.

Wicked Weed Funkatorium | A Hoppy Medium

Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO | A Hoppy Medium

Just like our last cross-country trip, we made a ton of stops at some breweries and beer bars we were eager to check out. Some of my favorites included: Wicked Weed (they have two locations in Asheville, but we both liked the Funkatorium the best); The Answer in Richmond - great hoppy beers and stouts; Side Project in St. Louis; and Sergio's World Beers in Louisville - very unassuming place with a brash yet super friendly owner behind the bar; who will be happy to show you his extensive beer collection, if you're nice to him. This place had some great beers on tap and for sale via the bottle; really impressive options here!

Our trip back to Boston was definitely exciting and too so much fun, but I am so excited to be home - and I promise, I'll get back in the kitchen again soon, too!

Your turn! What's new with you??