Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Arrogant Brewing releases Who You Callin' Wussie on the craft beer world

Who You Callin’ WUSSIE will be unleashed into the world starting June 27, bringing salvation and righteousness to a section of the industry massively infiltrated by industrialized fizzy yellow beer. Arriving in 16-ounce six-pack cans, this is the first new release from Arrogant Brewing since, well, the last one.

Dedicated to aggressive beers that demand and bestow sophistication, Arrogant Brewing once again strikes back for the Worthy. Over decades, industrial brewers have slowly disgraced and cheapened the noble heritage of the pilsner with their relentless multigenerational downward drive to commercialized homogenization. This once vaulted style has been slowly and methodically gutted, bringing forth a soulless, anemic result, all while they have spent billions on advertising to convince the unwitting public that their fizzy yellow end result remains legit. Weak, watery beer is most certainly not legit.

“They do it cheaply. We do it right. Choose vapidity, or choose righteousness…but whatever you do, choose wisely,” said Arrogant Bastard with the expectation that, ultimately, it’s up to you to figure it out for yourself.

Who You Callin’ WUSSIE will be available in bars, restaurants and markets nationwide. Beware that Big Beer will do its best to prevent availability of WUSSIE. Do not stand for this affront to your rights as a consumer to make enlightened quality choices. Demand WUSSIE Pils (just don’t be a jackass about it, but instead do it with style and grace or you’re no better than one of them).
Ultimately WUSSIE pils steals the pilsner back from the evil clutches of corporate beer and restores it to its almighty glory. And it’s about fucking time. [mic drop]


  • Name: "Who You Callin’ WUSSIE" or just plain "WUSSIE" 
  • URL: 
  • 5.8% ABV
  • 47 IBU 
  • Availability: Nationwide
Aimee Plesa

Mini cocktails are perfect for Fourth of July celebrating

This year on Independence Day, make your cocktail game just a little easier with simple recipes that don’t require a lot of measuring. Those mini 50ml bottles at your local liquor store allows you to just grab a cup of ice, a little bit of ingredients and an entire mini bottle, topped off with soda. Not only are they simple and delicious, they’re also festively colorful!

RED: Stars and Stripes 

  • 1 bottle (50 ml) Jose Cuervo Tradicional 
  • 50 ml grapefruit juice 
  • 10 ml Campari 
  • 10 ml Fresh Lime Juice 
  • 10 ml Simple Syrup 

Build the drink in an ice-filled mason jar, top with club soda and garnish with an orange slice.

WHITE: Boodles the Beautiful 

  • 1 bottle (50 ml) Boodles Gin 
  • 10 ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur 
  • 10 ml Fresh Lemon Juice 
  • 1 can San Pellegrino Pompelmo 

Build the drink in an ice-filled mason jar. Add the gin, liqueur and lemon juice, then top with San Pellegrino Pompelmo.

BLUE: Fresh Picked Freedom 

  • 1 bottle (50 ml) Hangar 1 Vodka 
  • 20 ml Fresh Lemon Juice 
  • 20 ml Simple Syrup Club Soda 
  • Handful of Blueberries, plus more for garnish 
  • 6 Fresh Mint Leaves, plus more for garnish 

Add the blueberries, mint, lemon juice and simple syrup into a mixing tin, give it a quick muddle, then add the vodka. Add ice and shake. Strain into an ice-filled mason jar and top with club soda and garnish with a mint sprig and some blueberries.

Aimee Plesa

Four star-spangled cocktail recipes featuring Collingwood Blended Canadian Whisky

Collingwood Dry Manhattan, recipe follows
Another summer holiday weekend looms just ahead of us. As we prepare for the Independence Day weekend, many of us will be looking to celebrate with a cold beer. However, with the resurgence of the "brown spirits" category, this weekend is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and try some cocktails featuring Collingwood Blended Canadian Whisky. Friday is Canada Day, so there's no better way to kick off the long Fourth of July weekend than with a star-spangled cocktail inspired by our friends up North!

Collingwood’s light and crisp flavor profile is ideal for sipping neat or on the rocks. For cocktails, Collingwood pairs best with classic lighter cocktails, including


  • 1.5 oz. Collingwood 
  • .75 oz. simple syrup 
  • .75 oz. lemon juice 

Mix all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and pour into a glass with ice.


  • 1.5 oz. Collingwood 
  • 3 oz. ginger beer 
  • Splash of lime juice 

Mix all ingredients over ice. Garnish with a lime.


  • 2 oz. Collingwood 
  • .5 oz. extra-dry vermouth 
  • 3 dashes orange bitters 

Mix all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, and strain into a martini glass.

Tom Collingwood-recipe left

  • 2 oz. Collingwood 
  • .75 oz. simple syrup 
  • 1 oz. lemon juice 
  • 3 oz. soda water 

Mix Collingwood, simple syrup and lemon juice in a highball glass with ice. Top with soda water, garnish and serve.

About Collingwood
Made at Canada's longest continuously owned and operated distillery in the town of Collingwood, Ontario, Collingwood Blended Canadian Whisky is a relatively new player in the super-premium Canadian whisky category - which shows double digit growth. With a unique toasted maplewood finish, Collingwood is unmistakably a product of the vigorous Canadian spirit and landscape.

Aimee Plesa

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Details emerge regarding the Montclair Food and Wine Festival's BBQ, Bourbon & Biergarten

As the Montclair Food & Wine Festival's July 9th BBQ, Bourbon & Biergarten event fast approaches, Sharon Sevrens, proprietor of Amanti Vino -- the Church Street shop beloved for its focused selection of artisanal spirits and microbrews in addition to handpicked wines -- is busy curating all that will be available for tasting.

Here's a preview of what liquid deliciousness to expect. All are perfect accompaniments to scrumptious dishes including Spaeztle Mac + Cheese (Pilsener Haus & Biergarten); Cajun Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (Fitzgerald's 1928); Rabbit Tacos (90 Acres); Roasted Pig slow- cooked in Caja China box (Essex Junction); Bourbon Blondies (Little Daisy Bake Shop); and many, many more from returning local favorites such as Burg, The Orange Squirrel, Pig & Prince, Ariane Kitchen & Bar, and Fascino.

Barrell Bourbon*
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Bourbon
Bib & Tucker Bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon
Bulleit Rye
Dad's Hat Rye
Few Bourbon
Filibuster Bourbon
Garrison Brothers - Texas Bourbon
George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey
Glenfiddich 14 Year Bourbon Barrel Reserve*
High West Bourbon
Jersey Artisan Distilling
Jersey Spirits Distilling Co.*
John B. Stetson Bourbon
Journeyman Bourbon
Michter's Limited Production American Whiskey
Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch*
Old Fashioned Cocktail*
Peach Street Bourbon
Rough Rider Bourbon
Town Branch Bourbon
Tuthilltown Hudson Baby Bourbon
Tuthilltown Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

Crowd favorites from
Brooklyn Brewery

NJ Beer Co. 
Captain Lawrence
...more to come!
*indicates premium tastings

  • A fun-filled evening full of the flavors and spirits of summer with live music by The Rockin' 45s, generously provided by The Wellmont Theater;
  • A BBQ-themed tasting with savory & sweet dishes from the area's top chefs, Whole Foods, and even The Wellmont's team, including a wide array of bourbons and beers from local artisanal and national brands;
  • A "spirited" BBQ competition MC'd by Anne Marie Leamy ("Annie" of WPLJ Morning Show with Todd & Jayde) and judged by John Holl, acclaimed beer/food writer; Veronique Deblois, Kansas City Barbecue Society Certified Judge and regional F+B blogger; and Ed Schoenfeld,Restaurateur (Red Farm & Decoy) and Judge on Food Network shows. Guests' votes will count in the People's Choice award, with a trophy being awarded to the ultimate winning chef; and
  • Raffle and silent auction featuring fantastic, fun food/travel/luxury items.
WHERE: Montclair Art Museum, 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ

WHEN: Saturday, July 9, 2016, 6.00 - 10.00 pm 

TICKETS: General admission: $85 pp (includes access to food, beer and spirits tasting, music and BBQ competition, raffles and silent auction); VIP admission: $120 pp (includes premium craft beer and spirits tasting). 

Brides and grooms with a sense of humor can celebrate their nuptials with tongue-in-cheek vintage from Solitary Cellars Wine Co

2011 Ball and Chain 2It takes a lot of audacity to name a wine created to be served at weddings “Ball and Chain,” but Solitary Cellars Wine Co. is no ordinary winery. Owned by two California state correctional officers, Solitary Cellars is well known for not taking itself too seriously and having fun with the sometimes stuffy and too-proper wine industry. The tagline for their winery, after all, is: “Solitary Cellars — Wines Without Restraints.” Their wine club is called the Chain Gang, with two levels, Minimum and Maximum Custody, and the tasting room is called the North Block Tasting Room.

Now winery partners Greg “Bergie” Bergersen and Rick “Q” Quesada are having a little more fun by offering brides and grooms with a sense of humor a new wine to serve at their weddings: Ball and Chain, a term that can be applied to both prisoners and wives. Facetiously and with a smile for the latter, of course.

“My wife, Syndi and I were approached by Curtis Williamson and he respectfully asked for our blessing to marry our daughter Paige,” says Bergersen, who retired from corrections in 2014 to start the winery with Quesada, who is still active. “We enthusiastically agreed and that began the conversation about wine served at their wedding dinner.” Of course, his daughter asked for one of Dad's wines. But not just any wine. BC Wedding “My daughter asked if we could develop a wine that no one had ever tasted and that would be unique to them,” says Bergersen. “We put the request in motion and developed a Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah blend. The wine was rich, full flavored and very balanced. We decided to call the blend Ball and Chain. The name seemed appropriate as the term has a prison component, as our blends do, but also has to do with a widely used phrase describing a marital relationship, as in ‘the old ball and chain.’ ”

The wine was not only a big hit at his daughter's wedding, it won a gold medal from the San Joaquin County Wine Growers Association, and Bergersen and Quesada hope other wedding couples take a shine to it. “We plan on bottling the blend in large-format bottles, because our wedding customers can have the bottles signed by the entire wedding party,” says Bergersen. “We hope the new vintage of Ball and Chain, which is scheduled for a 2016 late fall or early 2017 release will be found at many weddings throughout the country.”

About Solitary Cellars: 
Owned and operated by Greg Bergersen and Rick Quesada, two California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officers with more than 45 years of service in California’s most dangerous prisons, Solitary Cellars produces wines in Lodi, California (Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year 2015), working with renowned growers from Monterey County, Amador County, Lodi and Lake County.

The winery's portfolio of premium wines features deep red wines that show off the essence of California's most-respected vineyards and wine growers. The Solitary Cellars portfolio currently include the 2014 Code Three (a red wine blend) (Lodi); 2012 and 2013 Liberty Oak Tempranillo (Lodi); 2014 Solitary Cellars Albariño (Lodi); 2013 Evasion Syrah Rosé (Fresno); 2012 and 2013 Solitary Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel (Lodi); 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah; 2013 Shenandoah Valley Barbera (Amador); 2013 Monterey County Pinot Noir. The wines are targeted to consumers directly in the tasting room, online and in select restaurants and wine bars. Solitary Cellars’ winery is located in Lodi and its North Block Tasting Room is located in Madera, California.

Aimee Plesa

Friday, June 17, 2016

New studies show that consuming milk helps fuel our Olympic hopefuls

Jen Kessey
Professional beach volleyball player
Team USA athletes know what it takes to build a champion: a lifetime of determination and training, countless competitions, years of fueling their bodies with the right foods and beverages and unwavering support from mom and dad. Now, a new survey conducted among more than 1,000 current and retired U.S. Olympians and Paralympians and hopefuls finds nearly all (nine out of 10) grew up drinking milk on their road to the world stage. Most even say their mom was the one who encouraged their milk drinking habits.

Team USA respondents rated a healthy diet higher than their intense training schedule as a key factor to their success. However, it’s not just a healthy diet that they’re seeking – it’s the right mix of nutrients to help them reach their peak training, and that includes protein, like the high-quality, natural protein in milk. Team USA respondents recognize that milk is a good source of high-quality protein with simple ingredients, and most still drink it today. In fact, U.S. Olympic Training Centers serve tens of thousands of gallons of milk every year where athletes are training at the highest level.

“U.S. Olympic athletes have always relied on milk to help fuel their journeys to the Olympic Games – from the kitchen table to the training table,” said Julia Kadison, chief executive officer at the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the group behind the Milk Life campaign. “To be able to support athletes with a simple, wholesome, and naturally nutrient-rich beverage like milk is such a perfect fit, and we’re proud to support Team USA on their journey to the Olympic Games.”

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse with 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of natural protein in each 8 ounce serving. It contains a package of nutrients that’s hard to find in any other single food or beverage.

As part of its first Olympic Games as a sponsor of Team USA, the Milk Life campaign is proud to support six athletes, including:

  • Kristin Armstrong: Kristin won Olympic Gold Medals in the Cycling Time Trial (2008, 2012), three World Titles, five National Championships and numerous other victories all while being a mother to her son, Lucas. 
  • Perry Baker: Spending most of his life playing football before switching sports, Perry is now an Olympic hopeful in the sport of Rugby Sevens as it makes its Olympic Games debut. 
  • Elizabeth Beisel: Elizabeth started swimming at the age of five and has since earned U.S. Olympic bronze and silver medals in swimming from competing in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. 
  • Jen Kessy: Jen is a professional beach volleyball player known for her U.S. silver medal finish at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her family added a new team member to its roster in 2014 with the addition of her daughter, Aïla. 
  • Caitlin Leverenz: Caitlin was involved in a lot of sports like soccer, ballet and gymnastics before she started swimming at age seven. She is now a 2012 U.S. bronze medal winner who will be swimming in her third U.S. Olympic Team Trials this year. 
  • Danell Leyva: Crediting his success to his coach, who is also is stepfather, Danell is a 2012 U.S. Olympic bronze medal gymnast. 

“I can’t think of a better partnership than Team USA level athletes and Milk”, said Elizabeth Beisel, Olympic bronze and silver medalist in swimming. “My mom encouraged me to drink milk growing up and because of its nutrients I still incorporate it into my diet every day. It’s really important for me to get the right mix of nutrients in my diet, including high-quality protein, and milk has that package.”

The Milk Life® campaign, showcasing nutrient-rich white milk, announced earlier this year that it will embark on a five-year partnership with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). This multi-year deal will be the biggest sponsorship commitment the national Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) has made in its 20-year existence. The first of its kind category partnership will be supported by a 360 campaign that includes TV advertising, the team roster of six athletes across various Olympic sports, unique athlete digital content, consumer and retail promotions and more.

Milk isn’t only helping to fuel Team USA this summer, it’s also providing Americans with the opportunity to win** prizes just for purchasing white milk. Now through August 28, each milk purchase receipt uploaded to is an opportunity to win** more than 1,000 prizes, including a trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, a web training session with a Team USA athlete, and co-branded Team USA gear.

To learn more about the Milk Life campaign and to watch exclusive behind-the-scenes videos from athletes, visit Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram.
About the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation's milk companies, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. From America’s farm families to milk companies, the full dairy community helps educate consumers about the powerful nutritional benefits of milk – with 9 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, in each 8-ounce glass.

About the United States Olympic Committee (USOC)
Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Olympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. As such, the USOC is responsible for the training, entering and funding of U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, while serving as a steward of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements throughout the country. For more information, visit

1KRC Research conducted an online survey among retired, current, and hopeful U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes on behalf of MilkPEP between February 23 and March 7, 2016. The U.S. Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies distributed e-mail invitations with a link to the survey to its retired, current, and hopeful athletes inviting them to participate. In total, across Olympic and Paralympic sports, 1,113 completed the ten-minute survey (675 Olympians, 93 Paralympians and 345 hopefuls in training).

*9 out of 10 finding based on 675 responses received from survey invitations sent to all U.S. Olympic athletes.

**NO PURCHASE / PAYMENT NECESSARY. Open to 50 U. S. or D.C legal residents, 18 or older. Enter between 6/13/16 and 8/28/16. Click here for Official Rules, entry method and free entry. Sponsor: The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. ©2016 America’s Milk Companies®.

Aimee Plesa

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Craft Critique: Eel River Brewing Company's Porter

While out shopping at my local Kroger store a few days ago, I decided to peruse the beer section and see if there was anything new and interesting in the single bottles. After being confronted with what felt like row upon row of IPA's during my last trip, I was pleasantly surprised to see a wider variety of brews this time.

I have always been partial to stouts and porters, so when I saw Eel River Brewing Company's Porter on the shelf, I snatched up two bottles. One for me, one for my partner in beer crime. I am not a huge follower of the trend towards an all organic diet, but being able to put two bottles of organic beer into my mixed 6 pack did seem like a bit of steal to me.

Eel River offers this description of their Porter:

"This certified organic Porter uses a complex blend of five malts that compliment and highlight one another in a harmonious mixture. While decidedly in the robust porter category, Eel River Brewing Company's Porter has none of the harsh characteristics often associated with dark ales. Instead, you find a rich, smooth beer with suggestions of chocolate and just a hint of coffee. So smooth and malty, this porter will convert even the non-dark-beer drinker."

While not the most descriptive summary of a beer I have ever read, it is fairly accurate. Here is my review of this beer.

This beer pours a dark brown hue with ruby highlights, reminding me of my favorite cola. It was topped off with a slight tan head that quickly fades to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass. There was very little lacing as I enjoyed my beer.

The first whiff of my freshly poured porter instantly reminded me of red wine-very cabernet-ish. I could smell dark fruits and a slight musky presence. Upon letting the beer warm a bit, the wine smell dissipated and the aroma became more of what is expected from a porter-dark roasted malt, chocolate, coffee and a faint whiff of vanilla.

I was instantly put off by the initial taste of Eel River's Porter. It reminded me of black olives, kind of a dark fruit flavor and earthiness with an almost imperceptible touch of brine. Once the beer was allowed to warm, the flavor shifted into something very different. It presents with an obvious dark chocolate flavor with a malty sweetness and a touch of coffee. There is a slight acidic taste on the back of the tongue after drinking this beer.

This beer has a nice, medium body as it flows across the palate. It is neither thin and watery nor heavy and syrupy. The carbonation matches the heft of this beer perfectly. It finishes with a bit of a dry, crisp feel.

Overall Impression
My initial impression of this beer was not a good one. Taken straight from the refrigerator, neither the smell nor the taste appealed to me. However, letting the beer warm to the proper temperature for serving porters was a crucial step for my enjoyment. Nothing stood out to me as exceptional about this beer, but I do have to say it is a decent representation of what a porter should be. I would recommend it to anyone who has shied away from darker beers for fear of them being too strong or bitter but is still curious to try them. Food pairings for this brew would include barbecue, ribs, blackened fish or chicken, chocolate-peanut butter desserts, desserts featuring toasted coconut or with a high quality vanilla ice cream in a beer float.

Eel River's Porter is certified organic and has won a number of awards, including Gold Medals at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards, 2009 Los Angeles International Beer Competition and 2006 California State Fair Commercial Craft Brewers Competition.For more information about Eel River Brewing and their beers, please visit their websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Aimee Plesa

Caribbean tuna salad recipe from Starkist Tuna

Tuna salad is a summer time staple. If you find yourself getting bored with the traditional recipe, try this healthy recipe from Starkist. It's the perfect way to enjoy lighter fare during the hot, steamy days of summer without sacrificing flavor.

  • 2 (5 oz.) Cans - Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water, drained 
  • 21⁄2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise 
  • 2 tsp. chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce 
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped jicama 
  • 1 mango (1⁄2 diced for salad and 1⁄2 sliced for garnish) 
  • 4 avocados, halved 
  • Cilantro and lime juice to taste 
  • Leaf lettuce, if desired 
In a medium bowl mix mayonnaise and chipotle pepper well. Add tuna, jicama and diced mango and mix well. Cut avocados in half and remove seed. Hollow out slightly if needed. Place tuna salad in avocado half and sprinkle with a little fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Place on lettuce-lined plate with mango slices as a garnish.

If you would like to see more mouth watering recipes from Starkist, please consider joining their online community so you can get more of them delivered to your inbox, along with money-saving offers.

Aimee Plesa

Blueberry turkey burgers with lemon-basil mayonnaise recipe from Driscoll's

If you are searching for a unique burger to try this summer, this recipe from Driscoll's may be exactly what you have been looking for. It features a unique blend of ground turkey, blueberries, lemon and basil. Where else can you find many of the delicious flavors of summer all wrapped up in one meal?

  • 1/4 cups fat-free mayonnaise 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) Driscoll's Blueberries, divided 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1 pound ground turkey (7% fat) 
  • 3 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs 
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 4 light 100 calorie multi-grain English muffins, toasted 
  • 4 tomato slices 
  • 4 lettuce leaves 
Combine mayonnaise, basil, lemon zest and 1/2 package blueberries in a small bowl; mix well and reserve. Combine remaining blueberries, garlic, lemon juice and Dijon mustard in a bowl; mash well with a fork. Add ground turkey, bread crumbs, salt and pepper; mix until well combined. Divide into 4 portions and form into 3 1/2-inch diameter patties. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 175°F. To serve, place 1 tomato slice, 1 lettuce leaf and a turkey burger on bottom half of each English muffin. Spread cut side of muffin tops with basil mayonnaise and place on burgers. Serve immediately.

Aimee Plesa

Sweet Coconut Thai Chai Mango Lassi recipe from Celestial Seasonings

Looking for a cooler way to enjoy tea this summer? This recipe for sweet coconut Thai chai mango lassi from Celestial Seasonings is simply amazing! While it is a great way to kick off your day, it is equally delicious as a chilled dessert.

  • Makes 4 Servings 
  • 10 minutes (plus 4 hours to freeze tea ice cubes) 
Bring 1 cup of water to a simmer. Pour over one tea bag in a large cup and steep for 4 minutes. Remove tea bag and squeeze out excess liquid. Pour into ice cube tray. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Place the tea ice cubes and balance of ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Serve immediately.

Aimee Plesa

Peanut butter mocha cream soda recipe from Folgers

This amazing recipe comes from Folgers and features the always popular flavor combo of peanut butter and chocolate. YUMMY!

CHILL a tall 16-ounce glass in freezer.
USING a small whisk or fork whip instant coffee crystals and milk in tall glass until crystals are dissolved. Blend in peanut butter and chocolate flavored spread. Add scoops of frozen yogurt.
FILL to within 1-inch of glass rim with cream soda. Stir. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with dusting of cocoa powder. Serve with straw and long-handled spoon.

Aimee Plesa

Following Online Recipes

As a society, we’ve become dependent more on Google, and internet recipes, than on cookbooks, experience or our own common sense. So what happens when you decide to prepare an unfamiliar piece of meat, and rely on a recipe you find online?

We started out with a sirloin roast, probably around seven pounds. My husband read up on several web sites and determined that marinating was not necessary (though we usually do, with everything else). He also determined that since it was “small”, we should smoke it for about 2½ hours. He followed the directions on the chosen site, with a dry rub. It went into the smoker about 4 pm, and he warned me that dinner would be a little late.

The roast needed to reach an internal temperature of 165°F, but we didn’t want to burn the outside. With the meat thermometer cord in the way of the door seal, it kept popping open, letting all the heat and delicious smoke out, but hubs figured out a way to keep it shut.

At 7 pm, the internal temp was 145°F. We kept waiting, and I finally munched some potato salad and gave my daughter a peanut butter sandwich. Finally, at 9 pm, it was done. We dug in. It tasted good, though salty. It was also a bit dry and pretty tough. Normally, since a smoker cooks “low-and-slow”, meat becomes tender, but in this case, not so much.

Lessons learned: This was a very round piece of meat, where we are used to smoking flat pieces of meat, poultry and fish. Next time, it should probably be cooked on an even lower heat for much longer, or butterflied. Also, we will inject a tenderizing solution deep into the meat; and we’ll marinate it. Finally, we will make sure to allow it to rest before slicing, so it won’t be quite so dry. And… If we want dinner at a reasonable hour, we need to allow plenty of time for the meat to smoke!



Saturday, June 4, 2016

Annie B's artisan caramels are the perfect sweet treat for your wedding guests

If you are planning your nuptials and are searching for the perfect wedding favor to share with your friends and family or a yummy addition to your candy buffet, consider artisan caramels from Annie B's. Annie B's is a locally owned, family business located in St. Paul, Minnesota with over 30 years of experience in making delicious, buttery confections. Their little slices of heaven are hand crafted using locally sourced, all natural and gluten-free ingredients that are cooked slowly in copper kettles to ensure every batch is as amazing as the one before it. With the exception of the packaging process, every single piece of their candy is crafted by hand. Their tempting flavor lineup includes amaretto, sea salt, chocolate, coconut, butter rum, cappuccino, and, of course, the original recipe that put them on the confectionery map. Find all the yumminess that Annie B’s offers on their website,Facebook and Twitter.

Aimee Plesa

Mayan Black Onyx and House Blend from Millstone Coffee product reviews

I was recently the recipient of one of the best packages a coffee lover could ever receive in the mail: coffee samples from Millstone Coffee. Inside I found their two newest coffee varietals, House Blend and Mayan Black Onyx. While I was excited at the prospect of tasting both coffees, I must admit I was looking forward to trying the Mayan Black Onyx more as I am a huge fan of dark roasted blends. Here are my thoughts on both of these outstanding coffees.

Millstone describes this blend as "our newest coffee, ideal for those who prefer a darker, more exotic roast. It’s a full-bodied blend of the finest Arabica beans the world has to offer, with a rich, aromatic finish." Upon opening the sealed package, I inhaled the delightful aroma of a deep, dark coffee that is full of earthy notes and charred wood. While such a strong coffee aroma may not be appealing to everyone, I believe others who enjoy dark coffees will enjoy this scent as much as I do. Upon brewing, the coffee takes on a less pronounced, more polished aroma. The coffee brews a deep, dark brown that is nearly black, but with a name like "black onyx", that was to be expected. Anything less would have been a huge disappointment. After allowing my freshly brewed mug to cool slightly, I took my first sip of Mayan Black Onyx. My taste buds were met with a deep, full-bodied coffee that finishes with a delightful richness. This is a coffee that is meant to be savored, not gulped down in a rush. After drinking about half of my mug, I added some Coffeemate Sweet Italian Creme liquid creamer and was simply blown away by the taste. It may just be a happy accident, but I believe these two products were made to be enjoyed together! The resulting blend of flavors was the perfect pairing of flavors. Millstone recommends pairing this coffee with sauteed mushroom, potatoes au gratin and your favorite friend. I would recommend trying it with the richer, more flavorful desserts of winter and allow the flavors of both to linger on your palate.

Millstone describes this coffee as a "well-balanced and flavorful coffee with a smooth finish made possible by slow, nuanced roasting." It doesn't offer up the same intensity as its dark counterpart, and that is perfectly fine. Not everyone enjoys a dark beer and certainly not everyone enjoys a dark coffee. The aroma of Millstone's House Blend is the warm, comforting scent that most of us automatically associate with coffee. I also detected a very light, almost imperceptible, lemon scent and a dash of cocoa. The color of this coffee is a dark, golden caramelly color. This coffee offers a very balanced flavor and a smooth finish. I found it to be a little more acidic in flavor than the Black Onyx, but it is still a very good all around coffee. I also tried this coffee with creamer, this time it was Coffeemate's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor. This coffee works very well with creamer and I would highly recommend it when you are entertaining guests or any other time when offering a variety of options would be ideal. Millstone recommends you enjoy this coffee with a puffy blueberry muffin and a thick, comfy chair. I would have to agree-this is the perfect coffee for pairing with baked goods and a fuzzy blanket on a cold winter afternoon.

Both Mayan Black Onyx and House Blend complement the current line of Millstone Coffees wonderfully and I would recommend both to anyone who enjoys a good cup of joe. For more information about Millstone and their entire line of products, please visit their website or Facebook page.

Aimee Plesa

Warm Toasted Marshmallow S'mores Bars recipe from Betty Crocker

Summer may be officially over, but even as the mornings and evenings grow cooler, there is plenty of warmth left to our afternoons. If you want to keep the flavor of summer fun in your life a little longer, try these scrumptious dessert bars from Betty Crocker. You will be glad you did!

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix 
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, melted 
  • 3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz) 
  • 4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows 
1 Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13x9-inch pan.
2 Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.
3 Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 5 to 6 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

Aimee Plesa

How to use leftover coffee and coffee grounds

Roasted coffee beans Español: Granos de café t...
Coffee isn't merely a beverage, it is a way of life! If you are looking for ways to use your leftover grounds or brewed coffee, keep reading. Some of these ideas are brilliant.
  • You can use coffee while washing your hands to rid them of stubborn, clingy smells. I work in a professional kitchen and it does wonders in removing the scent of onion and garlic from your hands. 
  • You can also use coffee grounds to help loosen stubborn grease and grime from dirty dishes. Work grounds into the area that needs cleaned then wash as normal. I don't recommend using this technique for light colored or porous materials as the coffee may stain them.
  • Instead of pouring your leftover coffee down the drain before you dash off to work, pour it into an ice cube tray instead. Use these cubes to make iced coffee instead of regular cubes that will just water down your drink.
  • Leftover coffee can also be used as a homemade dye for coloring Easter eggs and numerous craft projects that need an antiqued look. It can be used for dying paper and fabric as well as used as a type of water color paint for the ultra creative types.
  • Wet grounds can be used to help camouflage scratches on lighter colored wood furniture. Take a small amount of damp grounds and work them into scratches using a soft cloth. Let sit for a minute then wipe away. 
  • You can use old coffee grounds in the shower to help soften and exfoliate your skin. Be sure to let the used grounds dry thoroughly before storing them for later use or they will mold. The caffeine in coffee is also rumored to help battle cellulite. Mix grounds into a base massage oil and work into stubborn spots. Rinse completely before dressing.
  • Coffee grounds can be placed in your refrigerator or freezer to help absorb odors. Place some fresh grounds in a small bowl and tuck into a corner of the fridge or freezer and let them soak up the offending odors. 
  • Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which makes them an excellent fertilizer for plants that require an acidic soil to thrive. Sprinkle the grounds in your flower beds and watch your roses perk up! Mixing in some orange peel is rumored to help keep problem animals, such as wandering cats, away from your flowers as well. 
Aimee Plesa

Chicken couscous salad recipe from Lea & Perrins

Couscous is growing in popularity thanks to our desire to add more ethnic cuisine to our diets. This recipe from Lea & Perrins will make that task easier and tastier.

  • 1/3 cup Lea & Perrins® The Original Worcestershire Sauce 
  • 1 tsp. Wyler’s® Chicken Flavored Granules 
  • 1 box (10 oz.) couscous 
  • 4 cups fresh vegetables, such as zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, diced 
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, diced 
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped 
  • 4 cooked boneless chicken breasts, cut in strips 
In a large bowl, combine Worcestershire Sauce, granules and 1 cup of boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Add couscous and mix well. Stir in vegetables, apricots and green onions. Cover tightly and let stand for 15 minutes. Stir in chicken and serve warm, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Tip Since apricots stick to the knife, making them difficult to dice, use kitchen shears. It’s easier and safer.

Aimee Plesa