Tag Archives | Beer

CURIOUS TRAVELER SHANDY

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I’m not a big beer person. I mean, I like beer just fine. When it’s football season, sure. Hand me a cold brewski (does saying “cold brewski” make me incredibly uncool??? #rollingwithit). But even then, I’m more likely to have a bottle of wine in tow. Most of the time, I ignore it. I just don’t care. I want wine, whiskey, or gin. When summer rolls around though, and all those lighter, crisper, citrus-y summer beers come out, I get a little excited—I’m not going to lie. I love a cold glass of Goose Island’s Sofie—it’s so tart and bubbly, like a beer champagne. Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche??? Yessssss SO GOOD. And now there’s a new fave in our hearts. A little guy called Curious Traveler Shandy, from Traveler Beer Co. Curious Traveler is America’s first craft/artisinal shandy! Cool, huh? It’s a wheat ale brewed with fresh lemon and lime for a powerful-but-smooth, citrus-y, lemonade-y beer hybrid.

Image via travelerbeer.com

We first tried it at a local tap room in our neighborhood, Zauber Brewing. Short story: Zauber brews their own beer, but due to certain restrictions, the amount they can brew is super limited for the time being, and therefore sells out super fast even online with the help of WebDesign499. This was one of those times—the only beers on tap were everything but their house brews. That’s fine by me, because that led to us trying Curious Traveler on draught (accessorized with a rather delightfully handle, I might add!). It’s been love ever since. We took home a small growler that day. The other thing I love about this beer is that the ABV is only 4.4%, which to me means I can drink it for awhile on a sweltering hot, summer day without getting knocked over the head with a sneakily super strong beer, like some craft beers tend to do. As you all know, we like our strong drinks! But when the heat is on and the sun is out, it’s nice to have something a little lighter if you’re chillin’ at a barbecue. A girl needs to maintain, you know what I’m sayin’?

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There are a few more flavors in the Traveler family, two of which are summery: Illusive Ace Boater Traveler, a grapefruit shandy, and Time Traveler, a strawberry shandy. I don’t care how girly these beers sound, I am psyched to try them and so is George. I’m 99.9% sure we’re going to try hunting one down today, and if not today, within the next day or two. I’m dying for the Illusive grapefruit shandy. I love—nay—I adore grapefruit, and anytime something is grapefruit-flavored my taste buds immediately send a “OOH OOH!!!! ME! ME!” signal to my brain. I can’t help it anymore, so I just embrace it. But if we only come across the strawberry Time Traveler Shandy, I’ll be just as thrilled!

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When we find our next Traveler companion, we will be sure to report back! In the meantime, do yourself a favor and hunt down these shandies down. Give them a whirl, and let us know what you think. Better yet, tell us this—what’s your favorite summertime brew that we should try? 

ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES

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Y’all, I have been posting nothing but JUNK for the past few weeks. Junk, junk, junk. Don’t get me wrong. That junk is DELICIOUS, but it’s junk food, I’m not going to lie. I don’t eat junk all the time. I promise. So even though it’s not exactly health food, I’m going with something a little better this time. At least it’ll be real food and not just baked goods (which are still my favorite topic. It runs through my veins, I can’t help it).

You know what I love? Potatoes. Who doesn’t, amiright? Mash ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em, scallop ‘em—I love them all, except for those au gratin ones (ML + cheese = yuck. Sorry.). My father instilled a love of potato pancakes in me when I was young. I don’t quite know why. It’s not a family tradition or anything, but we are Polish so I’m just going to assume the connection stems from there. Though we didn’t make them that often (probably only once or twice, really), I remember grating a bunch of potatoes with our metal box grater and it was a total labor-intensive mess. But you know what? These days I have a food processor and that food processor has a disk that grates things. Hallelujah!

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This potato/zucchini mash-up version has been circulating in my brain for awhile, but I just never made them a reality. (I mean, as much as I love potato pancakes, how often do I really need to eat them?) It also seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw some kale in there. I’ll admit, we’re still pretty unexperienced with it comes to kale. I’m intrigued by kale. I want to like kale. And it’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t know what to do with it. When you buy it you just get SO MUCH and we’re always like “Sooo…what do we do with the rest of this kale?” It only goes so far in salads. Hiding it in other foods seems perfect. I went easy on the amount since this was my first trial, but I’ll cover that more in the notes. Secondly, there’s beer in the “batter.” I actually got the idea from Martha Stewart. I couldn’t remember if potato pancakes required a lot or a little flour, so I wanted to scout out some other recipes for research. Martha Stewart adds a little beer, which helps to make a mixture like this a little lighter. So you know what I said? “Why the heck not?!”

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I went light on the amount of kale. I used 1 1/2 cups (torn into small pieces) in my recipe because I didn't know how it would affect the taste. It barely affects the potato-y-ness (yes, that is a technical term). You could easily bump it to 2 cups. Healthy stuff! Ka-pow!
This recipe is not gluten-free, but I believe it easily could be. Instead of using AP flour, replace it with another gluten-free flour of your choice (buckwheat, chick pea, you tell me). Instead of beer, use club soda. All the recipe really needs is a little bubbly carbonation.
Remember my garlic-infused olive oil and butter mixture? From the Pizza Baklava? That's what I used to lightly fry these little gems. Seems like a good use, no? If you want to make it, then knock yourself out. If not, then using vegetable oil is a-ok, too.
I made my pancakes in the 3-4" range. You could definitely make them smaller for a cute party appetizer with applesauce and sour cream as dips. The quantities of ingredients in this recipe are very easy to manipulate (i.e.: double, cut in half, etc). Making smaller pancakes would also be super fun for kids!

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: : : ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES : : :
Yields: 15 – 3″ pancakes

• 1/2 zucchini, peeled
• 1 russet potato, peeled
• 1 1/2 – 2 cups small pieces Tuscan kale (use lesser if you’re nervous, more if you seriously <3 the kale)
• 1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 TBSP flour
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 1 oz beer (Yes, seriously just 1 oz. But that just means you get to drink more!)
• garlic-infused olive oil/butter mixture or vegetable oil for cooking
• sour cream and/or applesauce – optional – for serving

1. Tend to the kale. Remove the leaves from the thick ribs. Set aside.

2. When the zucchini, potato, and onion are all peeled, divide into two piles: the grate pile and whiz pile. You will grate the zucchini and potato in the food processor. As for the onion and kale, you’ll just whiz those into little pieces, also in the food processor. This is why the food processor is your best friend for this recipe.

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3. Grate the zucchini and potato. Place in large bowl. If you end up with large chunks of zucchini or potato that didn’t get grated due to the physics of your food processor, no problem! Add them to the “whiz” bunch. Whiz the onion and kale in the food processor, then place them in the same bowl. Mix content together (honestly, I found my hands the most efficient way to do this).

4. Add the other ingredients: the beaten egg, flour, salt, pepper, and the beer. Mix thoroughly.

5. Heat a very large non-stick page over medium-high heat. Place 1 TBSP of oil/butter mixture OR 2 TBSP vegetable oil. When pan and oil are hot, carefully place pancake mixture in pan. A heaping tablespoon will give you a pretty solid 3.5″ pancake. Spread it out so it’s not too thick. I used my 12.5″ ScanPan for the job and fit about 5 in the pan at a time.

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6. Fry each side for 3-4 minutes, or until toasty, delicious, crispy brown.

7. Remove from pan onto cookie sheet lined with paper towels to sop up the extra oil.

8. Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, then heat in the oven to bring back their crispy qualities.

After I was finished cranking them out, I gave the first bite to George. He took a second to analyze them but then cheerfully said “This is nice!” Not sure whether or not he was trying to be polite to his wife or if they’re actually legit, I took the next bite. They make the potato pancake lover in me VERY happy. And knowing that theres a lot of zucchini and some kale in here, I feel much better about eating them! We stored some in the freezer for guests next weekend (side note: I hope this freezing this works! #nervousface). I can’t wait to break them out for breakfast and serve them with a poached or sunny-side up egg. Can you imagine this with a runny egg yolk??? Oh, sweet baby Jesus that sounds divine!

BEER BACON NUTS

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Beeeeer. Put it in any sort of food description and suddenly people are all “OOOOH,” and “AHHHH.” If you were to say “chocolate cake” people would be like “Oh, cool,” but if you say “beer chocolate cake” people will be like “Whhuuutttt???? I want some!” Think about it. Cheese vs. beer cheese. Pork vs. beer braised pork. Pizza vs. Beer & Pizza. It’s an instant enhancement. It’s kind of the same thing with bacon. Bacon anything is intriguing. The sentence “I have bacon chocolate chip cookies,” yields a lot more excitement than the mere “I have chocolate chip cookies.” What is it about beer and bacon that they make anything an intriguing novelty???

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Duh. Because both are pretty awesome on their own, so obviously they’d make anything else even MORE awesome. But what if the two are paired together into one cluster of awesomeness? Do heads explode? Are minds blown? Does world peace suddenly ensue because everyone’s happy? Nah, not really. But deliciousness happens and that’s happiness enough! Let’s continue on this Super Bowl-friendly beer theme and mix in some bacon! The game is a few days away and you’re going to need some snackitude, so it’s time to get serious. Beer. Plus some bacon. Plus some nuts. All of it candied together.

Say whuuuttt? Oh yes, we’re going there. Before we get to the recipe, here are a few quick notes.

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We've made this a few times, so we've adapted the recipe to our preferences. Such as MORE BACON. The original recipe calls for 6 slices, but we felt that wasn't enough for the amount of nuts involved. We recommend 8. I could even push it to 9, I ain't scared. But hey, it's your prerogative.
The nut selection. The original recipe calls for peanuts, corn nuts, and almonds in varying proportions. Corn nuts are perfectly un-classy and appropriate for football food, and peanuts are easy on the pocketbook (also, very football snacky). Instead of almonds, we went with pecans because we like pecans. You could use pistachios if you want. You could use whatever you have in your pantry if you want. It'll be just dandy.
As for the beers, we've used nut brown beers and regular ol' nonfancy beer. Honestly, I can't remember if it made a ginormous impact or not so I'm going to assume not. While the foodie in me should recommend a dark, nutty, rich beer, the regular schmoe in me wants to let you know that it's going to be addictive either way so just use what you have! 
This stuff gets STICKY. Portion it out using cupcake liners. It looks cute and everyone can grab a little bunch and munch. If you plan ahead and like a cute presentation, get liners in the team colors. I happened to have orange liners. I like Peyton Manning and will be cheering for the Broncos. Therefore, orange cupcake liners won.

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: : : BEER BACON NUTS : : :
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
1/3 cup beer
8 slices of UNCOOKED bacon (I know, it sounds weird, just go with it)
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch cayenne
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup peanuts
1 cup corn nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the uncooked bacon.
2. Boil the beer, the sliced uncooked bacon pieces, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne. Boil until the beer evaporates and it’s a bit syrup-y, about 8 minutes.
3. Mix in the nuts and spread on the foil-lined baking sheet. Pop the pan in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. We baked it until the bacon’s texture was a little crispy.
4. Afterwards, divvy up the mixture up into cupcake cups. The yield depends on how much you want to fill the cups. To fill the cups generously to the top (like we did), you’ll yield about 16 cups.
Get it? Got it? Good. Go team!

PARTY PERFECT BEER MARGARITAS

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Sorry, I had to do it.

The Super Bowl is a week away. Do I really care about the game? Not so much. My personal preference is for college football (UC Bearcats and OSU Buckeyes, if you’re wondering) and that season is over until the fall. George cares, but since he doesn’t have a team to root for he’s kind of on the “meh” side. BUT! We do love any excuse to host a party! And while I may not go bananas for pro football, I enjoy the sport and generally miss it once it’s over. Why not usher the season out in style, you know? It gives you a perfectly acceptable reason to stuff your face with chicken wings, Fritos, weird gooey dips, and other stupid food you normally don’t eat/won’t admit to eating in public. #yolo #noshame #i’mjustsayin’ Whether you love the game, you’re just watching for the commercials, or you’re getting dragged to a party by your significant other, it’s time to embrace the culinary aspect of one of America’s biggest sporting events. I’ll drink to that!

Speaking of drinks, let’s start there. Football means beer. But what if you’re not feelin’ the beer that day? What if that guacamole dip is staring you in the face saying “Hey man, doesn’t a margarita sound really good right now?” and secretly you’re like “Yes, guac. It totally does.” I got you covered, my friend. You can combine the two. And yes, it actually works.

Most beer margarita mash-ups involve a frozen can of limeade but I’m going to be honest with you. That kind of makes me cringe. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had great experiences with limeade? It kind of tastes like a cold Jolly Rancher in a weird way? Plus, it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup. Blech. Let’s go a different route. How about fresh limes and simple syrup (or agave nectar) like an authentic margarita? Whereas many margarita recipes add sour mix as filler, there’s really no need for that when using fresh limes. And if not fresh limes, then straight up lime juice from the bottle. A little tequila, a bottle of beer, and we’re good to go!

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The great thing about this recipe is that it’s very scaleable. The base recipe makes 4 beverages (7 oz each), but the measurements are easy enough to double or triple.

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Fresh-squeezed lime juice is best, which is about 6 large-sized limes.
The recipe gives a range for simple syrup amounts. Start with the lesser and test it out. You can always add more, but if it's too sweet it's hard to fix!
We used Corona for our beer. The lime-friendly, uncomplicated flavor is perfect for this.
For tequila, we used José Cuervo Especial, reposado. Now is not the time to break out your fancy, special tequila. This recipe is more punch-like in nature than it is "specialty artisan cocktail." Do you really want to water down Patron with Corona? I will note that reposado tequila gives a nice depth of flavor, since it has been aged in an oak barrel.

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: : : Party Perfect Beer Margaritas : : :

6-7 limes, + 1 extra if you want to garnish
*Note: you will need 1 cup lime juice if you rather use bottled lime juice
1/2 – 3/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup tequila
12 oz (1 bottle or can) of beer, like Corona
2 TBSP kosher or margarita salt
lime wedge (still juicy!)

1. Cut limes in half and squeeze using a citrus squeezer or reamer. You will need 1 cup of juice. Pour juice through a strainer to remove the pulp.

2. In pitcher, combine lime juice, 1/2 cup simple syrup (you can always add more), and tequila.

3. For margaritas on the rocks, pour in one bottle of beer then stir. For blended drinks, pour mixture into blender with ice BEFORE adding the beer. Blend until mixture is slushy with a fine texture, then pour back into the pitcher and add beer.

4. Place salt on a small plate. Run lime wedge over rim of glasses, then dip glasses into salt. If making on-the-rocks drinks, add ice to glasses.

5. Carefully pour margarita mixture into glasses. Garnish with lime slices on the edge of the glass.

6. Drink up!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As promised, here’s a recipe for homemade sour mix. I promise, using real citrus juices like lime and lemon juice taste a million times better. And if you don’t want to use refined table sugar, then use demerarra/turbinado/etc.

After trying this, I’m really excited for other variations I can make when summer seasonal beers are out. We became huge fans of Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy this year, so I think an orange-lime beer marg is in our future!

We’ll be bringing you another Super Bowl party (or just generally life appropriate) recipe in a few days that’s perfect for a snacking crowd. Tell us, do you have any Super Bowl plans? What kinds of food or drinks do you like to make for crowds?