My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stone Brewing Company - The Brews

I wouldn't call myself a big beer drinker because I don't settle for just any beer. Instead, I prefer craft or specialty brews and lucky for me, craft brews are all the rage right now. Ryan and I have tried many beers here at home and out at bars and restaurants and found that we both prefer dark beers such as porters and stouts.

Recently, I learned that a brewery from San Diego, Stone Brewing Company, planned to launch in the Minnesota marketplace. They sure know how to make a splash with over twenty events/tastings planned for this week, otherwise known as "Stone Week". I got my hands on three of their beers before the official launch and couldn't wait to try them with my beer brewing brother-in-law.

First, I got a beer cheese soup going on the stove using the Cali-Belgique IPA. Since it required an hour of simmering time, that gave us ample opportunity to sample the beers.

The Cali-Belgique IPA was sweet and light in the mouth providing citrus notes and a little bite. Since most of this bottle went into the soup, we only got mini tasting glasses and enjoyed our taste.

Next up was the Stone Ruination IPA. Considering the name and the IBUs (International Bitter Units) of over 100, we were slightly intimidated by the possible bitterness. Turns out we had nothing to worry about. While it is bitter, it is quite smooth with well balanced hops, perfect for hopheads according to my brother-in-law. With an alcohol content of 7.7%, it's sure to get your head buzzed quickly.

I was most thrilled for the Stone Smoked Porter because I love smoked beers and porters and this one exuded smokiness from the moment I cracked it open. Dark in color, but light in taste, it had a nice creaminess that left "legs" up and down my glass (either that or my glass wasn't squeaky clean).

The beers from Stone Brewing Company were fantastic and I can't wait to try some more varieties…I wonder if I can get my hands on the Kona Coffee, Macadamia Coconut Porter. The three I tasted are standard year round releases, making them quite accessible at the liquor store. Check out the events and get a taste for yourself.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the wonderful beer cheese soup I made using Stone Brewing beer.

Disclosure: The beers tasted here were sent to me by Stone Brewing Company. I was not obligated to write a post and all opinions are my own (with the help of my tasting partners, Ryan and Danny).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Work Snack: Popcorn

One of the cool things about the company I'm working for right now is that they have a real popcorn maker.

That means no one is going around making stinky microwave popcorn. Instead the hall fills up with the aroma of freshly popped corn which starts the flow of employees to the break room.

At first, I wasn't really sure on the rules and had some questions. Was it only to be popped on certain days? Was there a designated "popcorn captain"?

Luckily, I ran into a couple people who work on the marketing team that gave me the scoop:

Popcorn can be popped any day at any time and while there aren't designated "popcorn captains", there are certain people especially skilled in popcorn making. One must take special care to not burn the kernels or else our nostrils pay the price for the rest of the day.

A good popcorn maker will make at least 3 batches as to not disappoint those who are late to detect the popcorn aroma (likely those furthest from the break room).

A coffee filter is an excellent vessel for carrying the maximum amount of popcorn back to your desk.

Considering my love of popcorn, this is a really nice perk to have at work, especially when a snack is needed in the mid-afternoon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Think Pink!

Last weekend we had a baby shower for my youngest sister, Amy, who will be adding the first girl baby to the family after a string of three boys. My other sister, Jill, handled pretty much all of the planning and did an excellent job.

Of course there was a lot of pink:

I was in charge of making a pink punch.

Which was a mixture of ginger ale, Hawaiian Punch, pineapple juice, and raspberry sherbet. Yum!

I also made fruit salad.

And per Amy's request: Chex mix.

The mom-to-be was very happy to be surrounded by friends and family.

I'm still in shock that my baby sister is having a baby of her own. Crazy how time flies!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Competition Pizza Bites

So, I got schooled. Yep, my own husband outshined me in the art of making pizza bites, making his so dang good that I shouldn't ever try making them myself again. Sure, I made the dough, bought all the ingredients, and gave him the recipe, but still, he executed it so surprisingly well that I may have to rethink my role as pizza captain in our household.

Again, we used the recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen, but made our own dough with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day method and stuffed the dough with little pearl mozzarella balls.

Let's check out the photo evidence of his great job.

His Pizza Bites - nice and golden and even in size.

My Pizza Bites - browned in spots and unevenly fit into the pan.

His with a nice crispy crust with gooey cheese inside.

Mine - a bit flat.

Mine were good, but a bit doughy and dense. His were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with a pocket full of steamy melted cheese, just how pizza should be: crisp, hot and cheesy. I'll leave Ryan in charge in the future and use cake pans instead of pie plates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chow Fun with Hot & Smoky Tofu

Last week I made a bunch of black bean burritos for quick meals (which worked out well, by the way) and I also made something else: an extra dinner. Knowing it would be good hot or cold, I stir-fried a big pan of Chow Fun with Hot and Smoky Tofu, another successful recipe from Very Vegetarian.

It's full of onions, mushrooms and carrots:

Along with baked tofu and broccolini florets:

To make for excellent leftovers:

I stole a few bites while I was making it and loved the sweet and salty combo from hoisin, ginger and soy, but felt it needed a little heat so I added sriracha to perfect the heat level.

Try making your favorite stir-fry on Sunday and package up leftovers for lunches throughout the week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Restaurant - The Herb Box

The Eden Prairie crowd is getting another new eating establishment. First, Smashburger opened and then the more healthful Herb Box set up shop inside the doors of Lifetime Fitness, replacing Zahtar run by David Fhima.

I ate at The Herb Box last week and here are three things I liked:

I love mac & cheese and this smoked gouda mac & cheese had all the right elements of creamy and crunchy using toasted breadcrumbs scattered over the top for good contrast.

Red velvet pancakes with whipped mascarpone crème and gran marnier syrup won me over, but as a dessert since I’m not a fan of sweets for breakfast. They were light and fluffy and the fresh fruit, crème and syrup made them especially unique.

The Herb Box uses refreshing citrus flavors in a lot of the menu items, so it is no surprise that the apple and frisee slaw would be dressed with orange vinaigrette.

Open for brunch on weekends along with lunch and dinner every day. The Herb Box is too far from my house to visit on a regular basis, but those who frequent the Eden Prairie Lifetime Fitness are quite lucky to have easy access to it throughout the day.

Disclosure: I attended a blogger event at The Herb Box where they hosted a complimentary menu tasting.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kitchen in the Market - Now Open!

Being surrounded by creative people is really quite motivating. New ideas are around every corner and while some ideas just float on by, other ideas stick and yield fantastic results. Such is the case with Kitchen in the Market, a shared commercial kitchen space complete with a retail outlet and an area for cooking classes and demos housed in Midtown Global Market.

I swung by last week to check out the space during the VIP grand opening party and to support my friends (and Kitchen in the Market owners), Tracy Morgan and Molly Herrmann. First order of business? The cookie says it all:

The chefs who share the kitchen were on hand to provide food samples and answer questions about their products. Chef Beth Fisher and Caroline Glawe make up Two Food/Wine/Design and were sampling their organic egg salad topped with habanero jam (the jam can be purchased in the retail corner of the kitchen).

They also made this lovely buttermilk panna cotta with tangy blackberries.

Tastebud Tart chef and owner, Molly Herrmann, made fancy honey coated butternut squash coins, topping them with a spritz of goat cheese.

We also got to tour the kitchen space, drink a glass (or three) of champagne, and watch a gluten-free salmon cake demo put on by Jennifer Geisheker of Roving Dish.

Tracy Morgan & Jennifer Geisheker

I was really impressed by the new Kitchen in the Market space and can't wait to check out a class. They even have kids cooking classes, which would be fun for my nephew. Stop by and check it out for yourself - it's in the southeast corner of the market.

Read what others have to say about Kitchen in the Market here:

Joel's Views
Simple Good & Tasty
Star Tribune
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