Monday, November 30, 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, friends, great food, and tasty beverages. We sure did!

We had Z's parents and brother in town, and it made for a really lovely first Thanksgiving in Portland. Our menu was simple, as I mentioned last week - but I just had to share what I made for dessert, as this recipe is always a winner in our house.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars | A Hoppy Medium

The dessert I made was these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars from Sally's Baking Addiction. I knew they'd be perfect as Z's family isn't huge into sweets, so I could cut these small for a little bite after the big meal. I've made this recipe a few times now, and it always comes out great - and, despite the long ingredient list, they're surprisingly easy to make, too!

(Side note: I always just buy a jar of salted caramel sauce versus making my own, but if you can't find salted, just get caramel and sprinkle the bars with sea salt or fleur de sel).

These bars would make a great addition to any holiday party spread. (They also go wonderfully with a piping hot cup of coffee at breakfast. Just sayin').

How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quinoa Cakes with Tomato-Pepper Chutney

This week has been amazing so far. I [finally] received and accepted a job offer - and, bonus, it's for a company I am very excited to be working for! It's also Thanksgiving week, and we have family in town...and, well, tomorrow I will be doing nothing but cooking, eating, and imbibing with people I love. I mean, can that be anything but delightful??

Quinoa Cakes with Tomato-Pepper Chutney | A Hoppy Medium

In case you're strapped for one last appetizer for the big day, or just want a break from all the Thanksgiving goodness that's been gracing your social media feeds, please introduce yourself to these Quinoa Cakes. Z and I originally found the recipe in - you guessed it - Ottolenghi's Plenty More, but we tweaked the recipe quite heavily to suit our time limit and existing kitchen items. This version is just as delicious, I presume, but also quicker to make.

Quinoa Cakes with Tomato-Pepper Chutney | A Hoppy Medium

These protein-packed cakes are full of flavor, and topped with the tomato-pepper chutney, they're borderline out-of-this-world. Serve these for a fun and surprisingly healthy appetizer tomorrow, or just keep this recipe in your back pocket for the next time you need a hearty appetizer. (These also make a great main dish served alongside Honey-Roasted Carrots or a big green salad).

Quinoa Cakes
Yields: About 16 cakes
-1 1/2 cups quinoa
-6 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
-1 small red onion, finely diced
-2 large eggs
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
-1/2 cup cottage cheese
-1/4 cup grated cheddar
-1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain breadcrumbs
-2 teaspoons ground cumin
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

Tomato-Pepper Chutney:
-1 medium red bell pepper
-2 cherry peppers, seeded and diced
-3 cloves garlic, skin on
-3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

Quinoa Cakes:
1.) Throw the quinoa into a saucepan with plenty of boiling water and simmer for 9 minutes, until tender but still with a bite. Drain in a fine sieve, refresh under cold water, and set aside until completely dry.
2.) Place the scallions, red onions, eggs, jalapeno, cottage cheese, cheddar, breadcrumbs, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the quinoa, stir well, and form the mixture into small patties (about 2 1/2 inches wide and 3/4-inch thick).
3.) Place a non-stick pan over medium heat and add half the oil. Fry the patties in batches for 3 minutes on each side, until golden, adding oil as needed. Place on paper towel-lined plates and sprinkle with salt.

Tomato-Pepper Chutney:
1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2.) Place the red pepper and garlic on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the garlic, turn the red pepper, and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Once the skin is blistered and the pepper roasted, remove it from the oven and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. When cool, peel, seed, and chop the pepper. Also, peel and roughly chop the garlic.
3.) In a medium bowl, mix together the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. The chutney can be served with the quinoa cakes immediately, although I highly recommend making this 20-30 minutes beforehand to let the flavors meld together even more.

Quinoa Cakes with Tomato-Pepper Chutney | A Hoppy Medium

These are fabulous warm from the stovetop, but I also may or may not have eaten three of these cold - piled high with chutney - during an epic hangry moment. No matter which way you decide to eat them, I promise your palate (and stomach) won't be disappointed. 

Happy [almost] Thanksgiving! What do you have planned for the holiday? 

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Procrastinator's Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving

Happy week of Thanksgiving!

Here's the thing: We're hosting Thanksgiving this year for the first time our intimately-sized Portland apartment. Z and I are psyched to have his parents, brother, and a family friend in town, but we're also a little behind on the planning. ('s the Monday before Thanksgiving?!?!?!? was my first thought this morning).

Between the cross-country move and my endless job hunting since arriving in PDX, Thanksgiving - and the holidays in general - haven't been at the forefront of my mind quite yet. And with having to host Thanksgiving in, um, THREE DAYS, I've decided to share with you how I plan to pull this off. You know, in case any of you are awesome at procrastinating like I am.

Here's the plan:

A Procrastinator's Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving | A Hoppy Medium

1.) Make a [messy] list.
This morning, I just started jotting down a to-do list for this week and the big day, to get my thoughts out and somewhat organized. i wrote down the main dishes/courses we'll need; what glassware and additional dishes we need, since we just moved and don't have everything yet; and what items can be delegated to whom, versus putting it all on me. Which brings me to....

2.) Delegate, delegate, delegate. 
I'm definitely one of those people who tries to do it all. However, I've slowly been learning over the years that I'd like to avoid stress whenever possible - and trying to prepare and cook a feast for six people in three days doesn't sound like fun to me. So, I delegated accordingly: Z's dad is doing the turkey; our family friend is bringing two vegetarian-friendly sides; and Z and I will handle the appetizers, one additional side, and dessert.

3.) Make your menu simple, yet festive.
I love this time year for how festive and exciting it is, so I know I want to keep our menu special - but not complicated. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we get to spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones, so why try to make the menu stressful and pretentious? We still need to hash out the specifics, but Z and I are putting together a beautiful cheese plate for an appetizer (complete with some nuts and olives, of course), and we're calling Pacific Pie for dessert (they're right next door to us). The one additional side we'll make will likely be roasted Brussels sprouts, "fancied" up with maple syrup, pecans, and cranberries. Easy peasy.

4.) Beverages: less is more.
The real focus on Thanksgiving is the food, so there's no need to get too crazy with the libations. Pick 1-2 wines (or beers) that will pair well with your spread, and call it a day. I love the idea of also making one big batch, festive cocktail to go with the appetizers, but that's really only if you have the time and budget. Otherwise, it's incredibly unnecessary.

5.) Keep the tablescape simple.
I'm no Martha Stewart, but I still like to keep the table decorations festive, yet simple and affordable. We got turkey cocktail and dinner napkins for $1 each at Fred Meyer, and we have fall-colored placemats for each setting. I also have shiny and eye-catching leaf confetti in the middle of the table for a punch of extra color, but really, all anyone's going to be looking at is that big roasted bird in the middle of the table. So don't try to go all Barefoot Contessa with the decorations if that's not your thing (it's clearly not mine...).

And, above all, DON'T STRESS! The holidays are the most joyful time of the year, so if you're hosting Thanksgiving like we are - just have fun with it. Everyone will leave well-fed, well-buzzed, and happy as ever no matter what your table looks like or how many options of beverages you served.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Or you are more prepared than I am?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beer Friday: Southern Tier Pumking

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!

Southern Tier Pumking | A Hoppy Medium

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, N.Y.

What: Pumking (an imperial pumpkin ale)

Current ABV: 8.6%

Tasting Notes: Let's be honest for a second here: Pumking isn't nearly as good as it used to be. But when it comes to pumpkin beers, in my humble opinion, it's still one of the best. This seasonal beer also only gets better with age: every Thanksgiving, Z opens up a bottle that's 1-3 years old, and it's always a treat. If you can't wait to age it, crack open a fresher bottle of your own this Thanksgiving (or, tonight), and you won't be disappointed. This brew has nicely subtle notes of pumpkin spice, vanilla, roasted nuts, and, when aged, a welcome amount of booze. (Aging also helps mellow out the fragrant and sometimes overly sweet pumpkin pie spice flavor, which I enjoy).

Pairing Suggestion: Per my note above: Thanksgiving dinner! And/or dessert.

Where Can I Find It? Fortunately, this brew's available in a lot of areas. Click here to see where you can snag a bottle (or, a 12-ounce four pack) near you.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, and Tomato Frittata

I've always prided myself on being a great speller. Spelling is just one of the things that comes naturally to me. In third grade, I got an award for spelling pneumonia correctly. I was basically a genius.

Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, and Tomato Frittata | A Hoppy Medium

But some words' spelling still never fail to confuse me. "Frittata" is one of those words. Do the double T's come first or second? I have to Google it every time. (Am I alone here?).

Anyway, despite its spelling, frittatas are delicious. And versatile. They're a great brunch, lunch, or dinner dish that's perfect for using up any leftover veggies or herbs or sausage you have in your fridge. And that's exactly what this frittata was: a way to use up some chipotle vegetarian sausage, fresh herbs, and on-the-verge-of-being-thrown-out vegetables.

Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, and Tomato Frittata | A Hoppy Medium

Make this frittata, or a variation of it, for brunch this weekend. Leftover Thanksgiving vegetables next week = this frittata next weekend. Or, if you're having family in town for the holiday, make them this easy yet elegant breakfast or lunch while they're visiting. You can thank me later.

Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, and Tomato Frittata
Yields: 4-5 servings
-8 large eggs
-Salt and black pepper
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts!)
-1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
-1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, roughly chopped
-1/2 vine tomato, diced
-Pepper jack cheese
-1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper.
3.) Heat olive oil in an oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sausage and cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
4.) Pour eggs over the scallions and sausage. Pull the edges away from the sides of the pan with a spatula so the eggs flow to the bottom of the pan. When the frittata is half set, transfer the pan to the heated oven.
5.) Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with tomatoes and cheese, and put the pan back in the oven for an additional 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and frittata is puffed and golden. Remove from oven, top with cilantro, and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Chipotle Sausage, Scallion, and Tomato Frittata | A Hoppy Medium

We served large slices of this frittata along with wheat toast and beermosas for brunch (de Garde Brewing's Saison Premiere makes one mean beermosa). But I also love serving this for lunch with a simple green salad. Serve it up any way you want!

Can you spell frittata without Googling it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Best Homemade Croutons

The Best Homemade Croutons | A Hoppy Medium

Very rarely is there anything known as "leftover bread" in our house, but when there is, the first thing I think to make are croutons. (And if you follow me on Instagram, you already know the secret to great croutons: butter). Croutons are, of course, fantastic on salads and soups, but these babies also make a delightful, buttery snack when you're just craving something savory. (Let's just say, my croutons rarely make it to a salad).

I used dried thyme and crushed red pepper flakes in this recipe, but croutons are versatile little numbers - so feel free to use any of your favorite savory spices and/or dried herbs.

The Best Homemade Croutons | A Hoppy Medium

The Best Homemade Croutons
Yields: About 3 cups
-1/2 day-old baguette, cut into bite-sized cubes
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-Dried thyme
-Crushed red pepper flakes
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In a large bowl, carefully mix bread cubes with the melted butter. Season with thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat.
3.) Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

*Store in an airtight container in the pantry for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Buttery, salty, addictive cubes of carbs. Best of luck saving them for a salad......

Monday, November 16, 2015

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt

Side dishes are my nemesis.

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt | A Hoppy Medium

I am the worst at meal planning, so trying to plan a side dish along with the entree I've decided on for dinner is usually something that never happens. The extra work, extra prep, extra shopping? No thanks. I typically resort to a green salad, or I make the entree filling enough to not warrant a side dish.

However, roasted vegetables is always something I've enjoyed cooking for a side. Roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, asparagus - I'll take it all! You can just place whatever vegetable you're roasting on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper - it cooks while you prep the entree - and boom, dinner done.

But it wasn't until I stumbled upon this recipe for Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt in Plenty More that I thought of roasted carrots as being "fun." The prep time wasn't all that bad, either, and I tweaked the recipe slightly to use what we already had on-hand, so the little bit of extra shopping was doable, too. Another roasted side dish for the win!

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt | A Hoppy Medium

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt
Yields: 4 servings
Adapted from Plenty More
-1 1/2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into batons
-1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

Tahini Yogurt Sauce:
-3 tablespoons tahini paste
-2/3 cup Greek yogurt
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-Salt, to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.) Place all of the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together and set aside.
3.) Place the honey, oil, coriander, cumin, and thyme in a large bowl with a little salt and pepper. Add the carrots and mix well until coated, then spread them out on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes (or until cooked through and glazed), stirring gently twice during roasting.
4.) Transfer the carrots to a large serving platter or bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of sauce on top, scattered with cilantro.

*You will likely have extra yogurt sauce. Save it for dipping ANYTHING into. It's delicious, not just on carrots!

Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt | A Hoppy Medium

Sweet roasted carrots with tangy tahini-yogurt sauce, all topped off with the brightness of cilantro. Now this is one side dish I can get behind. (This would make an unique and delicious Thanksgiving side, too!).

What's your favorite side dish to make?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Beer Friday: Alter Ego by Tree House Brewing Co.

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!

Brewery: Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, Mass.

What: Alter Ego

ABV: 6.8%

Tasting Notes: A dangerously easy-to-drink American IPA. It is available on tap/for growler fills at the brewery, but I prefer it in a tallboy can, as pictured above. I like my IPAs juicy (ew?), and Tree House always nails that citrusy, thirst-quenching IPA that I crave. This particular brew is similar to their Julius IPA (also fantastic), but is chock-full of Mosaic and Amarillo hops, as well as citrus (Tree House calls it the "Devil Julius"). We crushed quite a few of these as we traveled cross country (not while driving, Mom!), and it was the perfect companion after a long day behind the wheel. (It would also be the perfect beach...hiking...snowboarding companion, too).

Pairing Suggestion: This is best on its own, but as with all IPAs, spicy food is king (this + tacos would be my heaven). But really...I'd pair it with just about anything and be happy.

Where Can I Find It? Tree House Brewing in Monson for cans or growlers; or you might be lucky enough to find it on tap at these few places (scroll to the bottom of the page). Into beer trades? TRADE FOR THIS ONE. You won't be disappointed.

Side Note: For my peeps on the East Coast, it's a beautiful drive to Monson. Pick up some cans at the brewery then head to B.T.'s Smokehouse for BYOB and BBQ. They do have some vegetarian options, too!

Have you ever had Tree House's beer? If so, what do you think? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Quick Trip to San Diego

Z had to travel to San Diego last week for work, so I decided to tag along. Flights were cheap (and short), and there was warm weather and sunshine in San Diego! Something Portland had been lacking for the last few weeks days.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort |  A Hoppy Medium

Z was going there for a conference, so we stayed at the same hotel where the conference was being held: the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, a short 20-minute drive to downtown San Diego.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort | A Hoppy Medium

The Loews was absolutely gorgeous. In a nutshell, it had three outdoor, heated pools; a jacuzzi; a poolside bar and restaurant, as well as several other restaurants and bars (casual, to-go, and fancy); daily restaurant/bar specials and activities for guests; extremely accommodating staff; and impeccable views. It was also a 10-minute walk to Silver Strand Beach, which provided glorious views, surprisingly warm waters, and a relaxing walk along the shore.

Silver Strand Beach | A Hoppy Medium

Silver Strand Beach | A Hoppy Medium

Loews Coronado Bay Resort | A Hoppy Medium

At nighttime, when Z wasn't working (and I wasn't laying by the life is rough), we took an Uber over the bridge into the city. Shockingly, our stops were based on beer and food. Here are some of the more noteworthy stops:

Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen, 2215 India St.:
Lots of on-premise-only beers, including some in the "research and development" phase. I love that! Plus, the food is incredible - I stopped there on the first night we got into town, and I craved their Fish Tacos ($12) the rest of the trip. It's also located right near the airport, so it's a great stop for when you first land, or for before you take off. (Also: you can buy bottles to-go!).

Modern Times Flavordome, 3000 Upas St.:

Modern Times, San Diego | A Hoppy Medium

An intimate and awesomely decorated space (example: a wide array of VHS tapes decorate the front of the bar). I've always been a fan of Modern Times beer, but trying it fresh from the source, on tap (with some on-premise-only pours to boot) was fantastic. If they have it, I highly recommend getting the Monsters' Park with Coconut and Coffee, an imperial stout. Delicious dessert in a glass, without being overly sweet.

Berkeley Pizza, 3934 30th St.:
Berkeley Pizza is a great, walkable stopping point between Modern Times and Toronado (a fun spot for beer lovers, although we find the San Francisco location has a much better selection). Berkeley was one of those spots that pleasantly surprised us. We just wanted a quick bite, but ended up sitting at their bar and getting a pint each, as their beer selection was quite impressive. (I got the 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry, which I really enjoyed). Their pizza is deep dish, and somewhat backwards as the sauce is on top of the cheese. But it was incredible, albeit filling, and we ended up taking a slice home for later. (Which we may or may not have eaten for breakfast on Friday before heading home. Champions).

Hamilton's Tavern, 1521 30th St.:
Right next door to South Park Brewing (definitely stop there for a pint beforehand; the beer's decent, and they have great large tables for imbibing at with big, open windows all around), Hamilton's is a no-frills spot for great beer and even better food. The menu is mainly comfort food, done very well, with mainly sandwiches, wings, burgers, and pub snacks gracing the pages. You also order the food at a window at the back of the bar, making the experience that much more casual (and fun!). The Vegetarian Baja Dogs ($6.25) were an indulgent "starter," although the portion was large enough to be a filling meal. (We ended up taking half home...also for Friday's breakfast). My meal was the West Coast grilled cheese ($7.75), piled high with melted sharp cheddar, Haas avocado, tomato, and pickles, served on rosemary sourdough with fries on the side. I almost never eat a full plate of such a large portion, but just about everything was gone from this one. Absolutely delicious.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 2816 Historic Decatur Rd., #116:

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens | A Hoppy Medium

Conveniently located 15 minutes from the airport, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens was a fantastic last spot to hit before we headed back to Portland. The weather was gorgeous, so we took advantage of their giant, gorgeous patio and sat outside. Samplers were quickly poured and food was quickly ordered from their inventive, Asian-inspired menu. I went with the Japanese-Inspired Tombo Tuna Sandwich ($15), which consisted of freshly diced Tombo tuna seared rare (although, not rare enough for my liking) and served on a toasted Kaiser roll with wasabi aioli, smashed avocado, and pea sprouts. It was served with a spicy and fresh green bean-wakame salad - a welcome dose of nutrients after having pizza and a vegetarian hot dog for breakfast. (FYI: If you sit outside, be prepared to talk over the planes taking off every few minutes. It's loud, but cool to see if you can take the noise!).

The beer here was good, with a number of on-premise-only taps and bottles. The only downside is they had several rare bottles on the list that actually weren't available for sale until the next day/next week. An odd typo to look over, and an unfortunate misprint for our table. But we did buy some rare bottles to-go, which helped ease our disappointment.

(For the active folks, Stone also offers fun lawn games on their patio - like bocce!).

All in all, we had a great few days in San Diego. I highly recommend making a trip out there for the weather, food, and beer alone!

Have you ever been to San Diego?

Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Hamilton's Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lemon Yogurt Bread with Cardamom Syrup

Cardamom: the unsung, spice cabinet hero.

Lemon Yogurt Bread with Cardamom Syrup | A Hoppy Medium

Leftover vanilla yogurt left with me the burning question: How can I bake this into something delicious? I'm not a huge eat-yogurt-by-itself person, so baking was my only initial thought. So when I found Ina Garten's (aka Barefoot Contessa aka my culinary idol) recipe for Lemon Yogurt Cake, I decided to tweak it slightly to accommodate what I already had in my kitchen. And the addition of cardamom was necessary to celebrate fall, the colder weather, and to make my kitchen smell absolutely amazing.

Lemon Yogurt Bread with Cardamom Syrup | A Hoppy Medium

Lemon Yogurt Bread with Cardamom Syrup
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup vanilla non-fat yogurt
-1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
-3 large eggs
-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3.) With a rubber spatula or spoon, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
4.) Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and cardamom in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is mostly clear (besides the cardamom specks). Set aside.
5.) When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar-cardamom mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

*Can't eat the whole loaf within 5-6 days? Freeze the leftovers!

Lemon Yogurt Bread with Cardamom Syrup | A Hoppy Medium

Super moist, super lemon-y (don't use the fake stuff!), with just a hint of the aromatic cardamom. Alongside a cup of coffee (or tea)? Fall morning heaven.

What are your favorite uses for leftover yogurt?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stepping Stone Cafe

You know when a restaurant's motto is "You eat here because we let you," you're in for a treat.

An affordable, filling, no-frills treat.

That's what you get at Stepping Stone Cafe.

Located in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Portland - conveniently, right up the road from us - is this gem of a breakfast spot (breakfast is served all day, but they also offer lunch and dinner). Despite only being in the area for four weeks, we've already been to this place twice for brunch. (Pro tip: you can skip the line outside and go right to the bar, if you're lucky enough to find empty seats).

Stepping Stone Cafe, NW Portland | A Hoppy Medium

The portions are huge, the servers are fast (and friendly enough), and the Bloody Marys ($6.50) are wonderfully spicy, if you order them as such. Compared to a lot of other brunch menus we've perused in the area, the prices are also very reasonable - especially for all of the food you're getting.

One breakfast dish I highly recommend is the Jalapeno Omelette ($9), chock-full of fresh jalapenos, peppers, onions, jack and cream cheeses (pictured below). The spice of the jalapenos was cut with the cream cheese, and it wasn't overly rich - a great balance of flavors. I urge you to swap out toast for a homemade biscuit for an extra 50 cents, too. The biscuit was incredibly buttery, and the size of my face.

Jalapeno Omelette, Stepping Stone Cafe | A Hoppy Medium

The Absolute Omelette ($9.50) is another winner, stuffed with mushrooms, onions, peppers, avocado, cheddar, and Swiss, with slices of tomato on top. While the avocado was scant, the rest of the ingredients were plentiful and well-seasoned.

Another must-try item at Stepping Stone is the Mancake ($3.50 for one). It's the size of the plate - meaning, huge - and is not for those with a small stomach. (You can even sub it for toast with your omelette, as Z did, which proved to be a gluttonous - yet delicious - choice). The Mancake is worth the fight, though - it's bursting with vanilla flavor, and only gets tastier with the addition of maple syrup.

One last important mention about Stepping Stone: the coffee's delicious (they use Portland Roasting). A must, in my book, to make a breakfast joint worthy of repeat visits.

Stepping Stone, we will be back. Again.

Are you more of an omelette person, or pancake/French toast/Mancake person? 

  Stepping Stone Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Best Vegetarian Chili

I have been making this chili recipe for years.

The Best Vegetarian Chili | A Hoppy Medium

It's one of the few "routine" meals Z and I just can't get sick of.

It tastes best when the air outside is chilly, football's on the TV, and we have nowhere to be but in our sweatpants, on the couch, eating big bowls of this deliciousness.

The recipe's best when cooked in a slow cooker (mainly because it makes the house smell amazing all day), but I sadly didn't bring ours with us to Portland - so cooking it on the stove top works just as fine.

So let's grab a spoon and dig in!

The Best Vegetarian Chili | A Hoppy Medium

The Best Vegetarian Chili
Yields: 8 servings
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-1 large clove garlic, minced
-1 green bell pepper, chopped
-2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
-1 15 oz. can vegetarian baked beans
-1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
-1 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
-1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
-2 vegetarian sausage links, chopped (optional - we like the Tofurky Italian Sausage)
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
-1 cup beer (a brown ale works best)
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, for garnish

If cooking in a slow cooker, just add all ingredients, stir, and cook on high for four hours (or low for at least six hours).
1.) In a large sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add pepper, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until pepper begins to soften.
2.) Add the beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, sausage links (if using), and spices, and stir well. Add beer, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all flavoring off the bottom. Season with salt and pepper, and turn heat down to simmer. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes (although I highly recommend 30).
3.) Top with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream (or any garnishes you fancy), and enjoy.

Easy, delicious, healthy, comforting, and super filling. It really is the best thing to eat on a cozy, lazy day.

What's one of your favorite meals that you cook on a regular basis?