Verde Bloody Mary

Summer is well underway and we are in the height of brunch season. And what does every good brunch menu have? A bloody mary! But this bloody mary has a twist. Instead of the traditional tomato, we’re using its zingy cousin– the tomatillo. You can make this with a shot of vodka or you can really get crazy and make a bloody beer, which you may remember from last summer.

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tbs pickle juice
  • 10 dashes green hot sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt

Using a juicer juice the tomatillos, cucumber, and jalapeño. If you don’t have a juicer use a blender, but strain the mixture afterwards. Now you have the base. Put the base into a shaker and add the juice of 1 lime. I don’t put the lime through the blender or juicer since you’ll get the pith which is bitter. Combine the rest of the ingredients to the shaker and add ice. Shake for 20 seconds. Strain and pour into two 12 oz glasses. Last, add either a shot of vodka or 1/3 of a beer. Serving size is 2 for bloody marys or 3 bloody beers.

Cheers!

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Peace Tree Brewing Co.

As you know my fiancé and I are huge craft beer fanatics so ever since the second Peace Tree location opened in East Village I was dying to get there. The Des Moines location opened on News Year’s day and the same day I made the foolish resolution to avoid alcohol. So I waited. I didn’t have a set time for my deprivation, but once I felt well enough (and was off antibiotics) from having pneumonia, you better believe this was the first place we went to!

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Before Peace Tree opened the second location they were already popular in Des Moines despite their base being in Knoxville. Almost everyone here has heard of Blonde Fatale and it’s become a staple beer at music, art, and any other cultural festival. This Belgian style blonde is a sneaky 8.5% and is my favorite Peace Tree brew. I visited the original outpost in Knoxville about 2 years ago and so I was curious to see the new beers the Des Moines location carried and if I would have a new favorite.

When we arrived on a late Saturday afternoon there was already a good crowd. This was back when the weather was uncharacteristically nice and all the cyclist were out to play. In the parking lot was Miss Molly’s Jamaican Patty food truck, which we came to find out like most taprooms they don’t serve food. No worries, we came for the beer anyway and once inside we ordered the way we always do in a taproom: a flight each.

The taproom is industrial looking with tall ceilings and a wall of windows facing the capitol. The room is divided by stacked wooden barrels (as pictured above) and the perimeter is lined with comfy black chairs. We sat at a table against the barrels with the view of the capitol, and all the increasingly inebriated cyclists, which made for fun people watching.

PeaceTree-flight

Pictured in order is the Brett Simcoe, Orange Gose (pronounced go-sa), Templeton Saison Blanche, Rye Porter, and Blondish. For some reason I didn’t save the picture I took of Curtis’s flight, but he had the Dark Sour, Cherry Gose, Ohh! Pale Lager, Red Rambler, and the Jalapeño Pineapple Kombucha. The Orange Gose was a highlight. The beer was fragrant with citrus notes and though sour it was not punishingly so. Another delight was the Blondish, a subtler version of the Blonde Fatale (as you would expect), but just as flavorful. The one beer that I was disappointed about was the Cherry Gose. It was a too sour for my liking (and I used to drink vinegar straight), and had a medicinal flavor I couldn’t get past.

Overall it was a great experience and though Blonde Fatale has yet to be usurped, it was fun trying. Have you been to Peace Tree’s Des Moines branch? What was your impression? Any beer I missed you think I need to try? Let me know!

Arizona Mini-Vacation

My fiancé’s parents pack up and spend half of the year in Phoenix as soon as the weather in Iowa gets cool. Though this year’s weather was warm until Thanksgiving they didn’t take any chances and headed down in October. Since they’re gone for so long we like to go down and visit them- – the warm weather helps too.

We headed down on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. Day 1 we hiked up the hieroglyphics trail on Superstition Mountain. The trail was about 4 miles and had amazing views of the desert landscape and the cacti.

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As you could imagine that evening we had built up a big appetite which could only be satisfied by a visit to Persian Room in Scottsdale. We had an appetizer of kaske badamjaan- fried then pureed eggplant topped with sautéed garlic and whey. For the main dish I shared chicken filet, koobedieh (ground beef with onion), and zeresk polo which is  some white rice mixed with saffron rice and barberries. The entire meal was so delicious and definitely a highlight of the weekend.

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Following dinner we made a stop at the next door market, Caspian, where we got bamieh for dessert. Bamieh is fried dough drenched in rosewater honey.

Day 2 we went to The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I love love love the desert terrain and the colors of the southwest. We walked through cactus gardens, an edible garden, and saw structures and tools of the native apache tribes from the region.

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Later that evening we visited two breweries. First up was Four Peaks Brewing Company near ASU. The brewery is housed in an old creamery and had all of the staples you would expect. The Odelay, a Mexican chocolate brown ale, was my favorite one. For dinner we moved on to Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company and had another round of flights with dinner. There were a lot of very adventurous flavors from oyster mushroom to pecan pie. My favorite of that bunch was the Recolte de Chute- a butternut squash saison.

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Sunday we headed back home. It never seems like we spend enough time down there, but it is always nice to get to visit family even if it’s only for a few days. And as I write this it’s snowing, I have a cup of coffee in one hand, my pug in my lap, and despite the cold weather I couldn’t be happier.

Pineapple Ginger Mojito

You guys! I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL for over a month! It started the week I went wedding dress shopping, which was followed by father’s day, the fiancé’s family reunion, and a bridal shower (not mine).

I did find a gorgeous vintage-looking wedding dress. Of course it was over budget and nothing like I initially had in mind when I started looking; but there’s such a romantic feel to it. I’m sad I have to wait almost a year to wear it!

The family reunion also went well and I got to meet my fiancé’s extended family on his mother’s side. Included in that is his uncle who’s officiating our wedding. They were all very kind and made me feel like part of the family already.

As summer gets busy and hectic sometimes all you want is to relax with a tasty refreshing drink. There’s just a little extra legwork to do beforehand, but nothing too time consuming. Also, once the simple syrup is made you can store it in a cool dark place for almost two weeks. If you don’t use it all that is!

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Ingredients

  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Pineapple juice
  • White rum
  • Lime
  • Fresh mint
  • Soda water

Directions for the simple syrup

To make the simple syrup slice 3-4 paper thins slices of ginger to a sauce pan with the water and sugar. Bring to a boil stirring the entire time, otherwise the sugar will burn. Then remove from heat and allow to cool. The syrup should be clear and not cloudy meaning the sugar has dissolved. Once cooled remove the ginger slices, otherwise the syrup will not keep as long.

To prepare the drink

Muddle a few mint leaves, a wedge of lime juice and the rind, and a shot of white rum in a shaker. Side note: if you want more of a spicy ginger flavor you can muddle fresh ginger slices with the mint, lime, and rum- it gives the drink a nice kick. Add a handful of ice, a shot’s worth of pineapple juice, and 3 tsp of the simple syrup. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a glass with fresh ice. Top the mixture off with soda and give a quick stir to combine.

Enjoy!

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Iowa Brew Tour 2016

This past Memorial Day weekend the fiancé, Curtis, and I took a little trip around Iowa to visit some breweries. We originally had 9 breweries on the list to visit in 2 days. As you can probably guess 9 was waaay too much beer and so we only went to 5.

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Brew Tour Buddy

Even though we cut our trip short we ended up sampling 35 beers! Since there’s so many I’m only going to highlight my favorite from each place. Our route was mostly in eastern Iowa and on the way back we were going to go to the local breweries like 515 Brewing, Twisted Vine, Madhouse, etc., so those are still on our list.

First Stop: 3rd Base Brewery

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Favorite Beers: Pink Lady- a sour, tasted like grapefruit and the Black Cobra- an oatmeal stout.

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Address: 500 Blairs Ferry Road Northeast, Cedar Rapids, IA

Website: https://www.thirdbasebrew.com

Comments: They gave a sampler wheel with 8 beers for $16, uhh yes please!

Second Stop: Lion Bridge Brewing Company

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Favorite Beers: Workman’s Comp- dark beer with hints of toffee, also won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014. Curtis liked the Coffee Kolsh which had Peruvian light roast added before kegging.

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Address: 59 16th Ave SW, Czech Village, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Website: http://www.lionbridgebrewing.com

Comments: They had one of the most unique beers, which I didn’t have the guts to try- Oyster Disaster: a mushroom stout. I like mushrooms, but I don’t know if I’d like it mixed with my beer. Also, they’re located in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, a charming area with shops, restaurants, and bakeries, which I didn’t even know existed.

Third Stop: Another Road Brewing

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Favorite Beers: Columbus Didn’t Discover America Pale Ale.

Address: 1175 8th Ave, Marion IA

Website: http://www.facebook.com/Another-Road-Brewing-225604440948579/

Comments: When we visited they were out of their dark beers (insert frown-y face), so we mostly had lighter beers & IPAs. I think if the Chocolate Cherry Stout was available we would have been a fan. The bartender here was so nice and knowledgeable, not only about the beers on tap, but the surrounding breweries. He was even kind enough to give us an IA Beer Trails map, which made us realize there’s 53 breweries in IA and we’re so far behind!

Fourth Stop: Big Grove Brewery

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Favorite Beer: Que Onda Roja- flemish red, sour. Curtis liked Nitro Coffee Stout.

Address: 101 West Main Street, Solon, IA

Website: http://biggrovebrewery.com

Comments: Big Grove seemed more like a restaurant than brewery, and you could tell it was popular since it was so busy! Despite the busyness our waiter was great and explained the drinks to us without rush.

Fifth Stop: Kalona Brewing Company

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Favorite Beer: Start-up- Coffee Stout & Sheer Madness – Wheat Ale. Curtis liked the Double Whammy Imperial Stout and the Dubbel Night Vision.

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Address: 405 B Avenue, Kalona, IA

Website: http://www.kalonabrewing.com

Comments: If I had to pick a favorite, Kalona Brewing Company would be it. All of the beers had a great finish to them despite the alcohol content. The Start-Up beer mentioned earlier? Yeah that was 7.6% and you would never know since it goes down so smooth. Same with the Coconut Abbey- 9.2%, which has a great subtle coconut flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the beer. The brewery is also located in Amish Country, which was really cool to see. We stopped at a general store and got Amish made dill and garlic cheese… But, back to the brewery their mission statement talks about wanting to be the living room of the town, where everyone can meet up and socialize. I love that idea!

Side Notes: Though this was a brew tour we did eat pretty well along the way. We wanted to counter all the alcohol with some food so we ordered something at every place- southwest egg rolls, pork nachos, dumplings, and hummus. I don’t think we would have safely survived without it!

Also, Curtis took some footage so there may be a short film in the works about the trip so stay tuned for that! Lastly, as you now know five breweries are just the tip of the iceberg in Iowa so I think we might continue the tour and I’ll keep you posted all along the ride!

Sidecar with Cherry & Orange

Today’s called thirsty Thursday for a reason! I have the perfect cocktail recipe to help you kick off Friday’s eve in style.

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This is not a traditional sidecar. There’s brandy and triple sec, but instead of lemon juice there’s a fruity twist. Don’t let the brandy scare you, this drink is sweet.

Ingredients

Simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Cocktail

  • 2 shots cognac or VSOP brandy
  • 8 tablespoons cherry simple syrup
  • 1 large orange (for juicing)
  • 2 shots triple sec
  • crushed ice

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Directions

To make the simple syrup combine the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down to medium heat and allow to reduce for 10-15mins. Once the mixture has thickened, strain the syrup from the cherries and allow the syrup to cool in the fridge for at least 20 mins.

In two short glasses (we used whiskey tumblers) place 4 tablespoons each of the cherry simple syrup. Add crushed ice nearly to the rim. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 of the way with ice and then add the cognac, juice of an orange, and triple sec. Shake for 30 seconds until cool and frothy. Pour over ice and garnish with cherries or a slice of orange. Serving size: 2.

Enjoy!

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Bloody Beers

Another Sunday, another brunch recipe. My drink of choice at brunch is a bloody mary. Though mimosas are great (especially grapefruit), I tend to favor salty/savory over sweet, but since bloody marys can be incredibly heavy I like to cut them with beer.

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Bloody beers are technically derived from micheladas- a Mexican beer with lime, salt, sauce, and spices. But since no one knows what that is, let alone how to pronounce the name, calling them bloody beers is easier. Knowing this backstory, it will come as no surprise that I use Mexican beers. If you like a lighter color beer go with Corona— it’s tangy and zippy. On the darker side, Negra Modelo creates a nice depth of flavor.

This recipe is for two 20 ounce glasses without ice. If that’s too much you can always save the rest of the bloody mix for later and just add the beer when you’re ready.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup bloody mary mix (we used zing zang)
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 10 dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beer (ours was Negra Modelo)

 

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Directions:

Combine all the ingredients, except for the beer, in a shaker with ice. Shake for 20 seconds— it’s longer than you think! Fill glasses 2/3 of the way with the bloody mary mix. Then top the remaining 1/3 with beer. Serve with a pickle, olive, and meat stick.

Enjoy!