Category Archives: things to drink

Super Bowl Food and a Super Hero Cookoff

I’m not quite fully recovered from my Chargers loss to the Broncos, but I won’t let that keep me from watching the Super Bowl with my family this weekend and reveling in the fact that Tom Brady will be sitting on a sofa somewhere doing the same thing.

Nearly as important to us as the game is the Pool Grid my husband draws up every year (oh wait, is that legal? Doh!) Even more important to them is… THE. FOOD. super bowl party blueprints

I’m not joking here people, this household takes their football food seriously. I have years worth of clipped, handed-down and family favorite recipes. We each get to pick one thing we want to make the roster on game day. Heck, even the six-year-old has been stalking Party Blueprints and their Pinboards for inspiration. I gain 5 pounds just looking at their photos—–>

There is something, or rather someone, missing this year though.

Our Marine.

He won’t be slamming down sliders, taking on the fire-wing challenge or digging into Mom’s Famous Bean Dip. He won’t likely even get to watch the game. For him it will be MRE’s and Infantry.

Ah, but we’ve found a way to be Semper Fidelis with our Marine and all those thousands of service women and men who’ve had to eat an MRE (like me.)

The National Museum of the Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off!

2013-12-06 11.37.22What is an MRE, you ask? It is a military field ration, or “Meal Ready To Eat”. Frankly, they make that mystery meat you ate in Jr. High seem worthy of a culinary award. They serve the function of getting calories into those serving in the field, and don’t really spare much for taste.

Gifted is the cook that can take one of these pouches, the potions and powders within, the Sterno burner it comes with, a little water and not much else and turn it into something tasty. That is the gauntlet taken up by the brave few at the annual Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off. Last year’s winner was Craig Allen of Headquarters Marine Corps, this year the winner will be crowned on February 1, 2014… just in time for the Super Bowl! MRE

We’ll be packing up the “Platoon” and heading down to check out these Super Heroes cook-off and we might just come back with a new game day recipe in solidarity for our Marine and in thanks to all those who have had to suffer through eating an MRE!

Want to check out the competition? Here is more info on the event and visiting museum;

Marine Corps MRE Cook-Off

Location: National Marine Corps Museum 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway in Triangle, VA

Event Date/Time: Saturday February 1, at 12:00-2:00 pm in the Museum’s Leatherneck Gallery (note: if you missed it this year, no worries this is an annual event. Check the museum website for more information)

Admission: FREE (we like free!)

The National Marine Corp Museum is open to the public 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, both parking and admission are free. For more information visit their website at www.usmcmuseum.org

How To Make Sangria

Ahhhh, Sangria! Few things say “Summer” to me like the harmonious marriage of fresh fruit and wine that make up the base of a sublime Sangria. One sip of a really good one and I’m back on the veranda of my flat in sunny Spain.

In the three years I spent living in a small, coastal town in southern Spain, I sampled many a Sangria. My extensive “research” led me to uncover the secret to making it. Grab something to write with and prepare for greatness.

The secret to making a sublime Spanish Sangria….

Keep it simple.

Down the street from my flat in Spain, there was a small Bodega, earthen floors and terracotta walls lined with huge oak barrels. Some held the region’s signature Porto Sherry, others “Vino”. In the summer months local Fishermen would gather at the end of their day as the proprietor cut up whatever fruit he had on hand, mixed it with the vino and poured it out into glasses of all sorts.  The cost, about twenty cents a glass. The conversations, priceless.

You see Sangria is anything but pretentious. You don’t need measuring instruments, formulas or a guide of any kind. All you need is; fruit, wine and good company.

Notice I didn’t say “good wine”. I’ll admit that I can be a bit of a wine snob. You’ll never catch me drinking wine that comes in a box. Until recently I’d even turn my nose up at a bottle with no cork. Family tradition isn’t the only reason we make our own wine. Making it, can be far more cost effective than buying wine I’d approve of. Unless we’re talking Sangria. I have only one rule for wine that makes it into my Sangria. It has to be drinkable.

For this post I picked up one of our favorite easy-to-drink wines; Carménère by GatoNegro of San Pedro Chile.

GatoNegroNotice that price tag? It’s rather like hitting the lotto. This wine is FAR better than the price would suggest. Wine Enthusiast even agrees with me on this one.

Next, choose your fruit. When I say “your” that is exactly what I mean. Choose in-season fruits you like. For this recipe I used strawberries, blueberries, grapes and apples. Let your taste be your guide.

Sangria with fruitChop your fruit up into bite-sized pieces. Some people like to macerate (the technical for this would be smooshing-up) their fruits. I do that with the grapes and blueberries so that they release their juices.

Cut sangria fruitThere are two camps when it comes to Sangria. Fizz and No Fizz. Some take this debate rather seriously. I, being the peacemaker that I am, make my Sangria both ways. If you’re a No Fizz-er, simply add your wine at this point and let it groove with the fruit for an hour or so in the fridge. If you’re game for giving Fizz ago, I have a “secret ingredient” that is sure to make your Sangria the star of the party.

Soda sangriaThis stuff is bottled BLISS! My family call it “Kid Sangria”. You can find it in the Hispanic isle of almost any grocery. I found this at Sprawl-Mart (aka, Walmart). Basically, it’s a carbonated, non-alcoholic Sangria soda. I add it to red and white Sangria’s alike, right before I serve.

Glass of sangria

My recipe for the above:

Spanish Sangria

1 medium green apple

1 cup white grapes

1 cup quartered strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 bottle GatoNegro Carménère wine

1 single serve bottles of Sangria Señorial

Cut and macerate fruits. Place into a pitcher, add wine. Chill. Gently stir in Sangria Señorial just before serving. Serve over ice.

Here are some other great Sangria options from around the web (courtesy of my Pinterest board “Bar Wonderful‘)

White Peach Sangria

Apple Cider Sangria

Tropical Sangria (a non-traditional Sangria that includes rum… yum!)

 

 

Dublin, Ireland: Pints, Passports and The Blue Oyster Cult

Sure I’ve traveled quite a bit, but most of the best destinations came BC (Before Kids).

Though, there was this one time in Dublin.

Temple Bar District, Dublin, Ireland

Actually our trip was an Italian escape. A week in Tuscany. Shopping in Florence. Stopping to see family in Rome, a day trip to Lucca and enough wine to float us home. So where does Dublin factor in? What I’d done was book our flights so that the layover in Dublin was more like a day trip. Bonus, it saved me money too!

Travel tip: Long layovers can save you money AND get you an extra destination in your itinerary too.

After one of the best flights I’ve ever been on* we touched ground is sunny Ireland, my ancestral home. All the lucky holders of EU passports got swiftly ferried through the fast line, whist Hubby and I had to cue up with the snails. It was still great, after all we were kid free and about to hit Temple Bar for an early morning pint. Gotta love that you can get a proper stout at nine in the morning served in with a frothy head and no judgment.

The fine gentleman at the customs counter asked us the usual questions, “Where is your final destination?”, “How long do you plan to be in Ireland?”, nothing out of the ordinary. Passports stamped, hand-in-hand, we made our way towards the throngs of travelers exiting the inspection area. All was right with the world.

Until the guy in the supervisors booth stepped in front of us and said, “Come with me please.”

Wholly crap! My heart climbed into my throat and started to do a jig. Couldn’t this guy tell I was Irish? I mean, I belong here. What was going on? I’d never even been stopped at a border. Not even as a slightly inebriated teenager returning from Mexico on a Saturday night. What the heck is going on?

Naturally. It was all my husband’s fault.

As the Supervisor lead us out of the crowd and towards his booth he introduced himself. Then he proceeded to ask my husband if he wouldn’t mind posing for a picture with him. Good looking as my man is, he’s never been mistaken for a movie star. Ah, but he did have an association with one. See he was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with an image of Will Farrel in his classic SNL parody of  The Blue Oyster Cult skit in which we are all told that,  “It Needs More Cowbell!”

I’d nearly had a heart attack because the guy wanted a picture of the SHIRT??!!!

Oddly enough we’d later be stopped on the streets of Temple Bar so that the shirt could be admired. I guess Will Farrel is a big deal in Ireland.

Temple BarStay classy Dublin!

(this post is in NO WAY sponsored by anyone. That said, mad props to Aer Lingus for great service… a rare thing in air travel these days)

The Glory of Guinness

Don’t let the eye-talian last name fool ya, I’m a Lass o’ Erin through and through. With the annual, “Tell everyone you’re Irish so you can either a) get a kiss or b) get ya some Belgian beer dyed green in honor of your heritage” day, fast approaching I thought I might inject a little Irish into your St. Padraig’s (<–not a typo) festivities. What better way to go Gaelic than with the be-all-end-all of barley based beverages..

Guinness it’s what’s for dinner..lunch & desert too!!!

 

Guinness BBQ Glaze

1 12oz bottle of Guinness stout
1 tsp honey
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a medium sauce pan bring Guinness to a rolling boil. Lower heat (medium to low) and allow to reduce by 3/4. Stir in remaining ingredients and remove from heat. Baste desired protein with this delectable homage to Ireland*. Bain sult as!

Traditional Irish Soda Bread would turn it’s nose up at a raisin and never be seen in public with a caraway seed. My Gran used both. She was a rebel. In her honor I’m staging my own soda bread rebellion. It’s away with the caraway and enter the conquering currants and their cousins. Since nothing in life can not be made better by a propper beer.. you guessed it this recipe calls for GUINNESS!

Gran’s Soda Bread ala Guinness

1 2/3 cups of bread or all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (I prefer kosher)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
1 large egg (room temp)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Guinness stout
4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 357 degrees. Grease (or line) a large baking sheet. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix in currants and raisins. In a medium bowl whisk egg, butter and buttermilk together. Add this wet mixture into the dry until moistened, adding the Guinness in as the final step. Batter should be sticky but also stiff. If it’s too wet, add more flour by teaspoons until batter stiffens. Turn the batter out onto your greased cooking sheet and form it into a 6 inch diameter tall disk, pat down slightly. Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” into the top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, when done. Allow to cool on a rack. (though I can’t help stealing a hot slice to slather with white butter). Ith suas!

Generally I make four to six loaves of Soda Bread each St. Pat’s. Why so much? PUDDING!!!

Chocolate Guinness SODA Bread Pudding with Jameson Sauce

2 loaves Gran’s Soda Bread
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg YOLKS
12 ounces dark chocolate (I use a bar and chop it up but chips or even semi-sweet chocolate work just as good)
2 cups milk (whole not low fat.. this is not your average WW dessert.. Le Sigh)
1 tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. In a sauce pot bring the heavy cream, sugar and salt to a boil (string constantly). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth. Whisk in eggs and yolks, adding in milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the bread and allow to stand for 1 to 2 hours. Occasionally give it a stir to be sure the bread soaks up the liquids. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, butter a shallow 2 quart baking dish. Prepare a water bath. Pour bread mixture into the baking dish and smooth out the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the center feels firm when you press it down with a spatula. Allow to cool for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Jameson IRISH Whiskey Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Using a wooden (NOT METAL) spoon stir in sugar, whiskey, water nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is well blended and the sugar dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk until frothy. Add in egg and whisk the heck out of the sucker (aka vigorously). Put back on a medium heat, string continuously until thickened, about a minute or so. Serve atop the just warm Chocolate Guinness Soda Bread Pudding. Oh chomh maith!

Irish or not, embrace the spirit of Saint Padraig’s day. Go chase a snake off some island. Or just find a table, gather round and enjoy good food, hearty drink and the telling of tales with those you care about. HÉireann i bhfad beo or Erin Go Bragh!

*Note: Corned Beef.. not-so-Irish.. more Jewish, still a great “ish” though. Now salmon, there is an Irish “meat”! This glaze is OUTSTANDING on salmon!!