Category Archives: Food

Lindsay & Neil’s 5th Annual Pumpkin Beer Tasting

Please enjoy this post from my hubby Neil. 

Every year around this time, Lindsay and I have a pumpkin and seasonal beer tasting party. The size and format of the party has changed just about every year with our first party was just the two of us and it was a healthy mix of pumpkin and seasonal beers. This year we had six adults taking part in the tasting, two observers and a slew of children playing together and having a good time. One thing that is consistent is that we’ve always had some form of rating system for the beers. 

Sourcing the beers to taste is one of the fun (and sometimes tedious) parts of the process. This year, we started collecting beers to sample early on in the season and have been acquiring a beer here and there when something catches our eye. This year was probably the first year that the selection was entirely pumpkin as well. We managed to find a healthy mix of local beers, imports from the East Coast and even a cider. 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - 11 Beers

With such a wide selection of beers and a large number of guests, we needed to find a way to adequately supply tasting glasses for everyone.  Early on in the shopping process for the tasting, we had noticed Target had a beer tasting party collection designed by graphic designer and blogger Kate Peters of Wit & Delight. The suggested price of the products was a bit on the expensive side for disposable goods but as the party grew closer, Lindsay was able to find the beer tasting cups and cards and a few other party items for half off in stores. On each tasting card was four different spots to grade the beers you are tasting. The options were “Another” or “Never Again” with some of us adding a third option equated to “I’d drink it for free, but I wouldn’t pay for it.”

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Place Setting

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 -places

After some appetizers, we got the tasting under way. We poured four beers at a time and took the time to discuss what we thought of each beer as a group.  The nice thing about pumpkin beers is that they come in an ever growing variety of styles. Love it or hate it, it wasn’t too long ago that it seemed that all of the pumpkin beers on the market were sweet, pumpkin pie spice bombs. It’s nice to see some more balance and moderation in flavor and styles. 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Beer As we made our way through the beers, we had a great time discussing what we thought of the beers and what specifically we liked and disliked about them (as well as giving those who like the least popular ones a hard time of course). 

The results of the voting weren’t really all that surprising. The breweries at the top are known for making great tasting and creative beers. I know my personal favorite was the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. Punkin managed to fall into the “pumpkin pie” style of beer with out being overwhelmingly sweet or spicy. Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale has consistently been in our top picks for our favorite pumpkin beers since we started doing the tastings. I also enjoyed the New Belgium Pumpkick. The spices weren’t too heavy and the addition of the cranberries in the beer was a nice touch, giving it a slightly tart taste.

The East Coast wholly embraces Autumn’s seasonal beers and why shouldn’t it? Fall in New England is arguably the best season of the year. That being said since moving to the West Coast  we have struggled to find many of our favorite pumpkin/Autumn beers. However there is one brewery that we’ve enjoyed and have found really embraces pumpkin beers on the west coast is Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company.

Elysian brews up a number of different pumpkin beers every fall and even host a pumpkin beer festival. Their beers have done really well in both of the tastings we’ve had since moving to Portland with Night Owl coming in third this year and first last year.

Elysian’s pumpkin coffee stout Punkuccino (not officially part of the tasting) was Lindsay and my personal favorite this year. It’s made with Stumptown Coffee cold brew, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was incredibly smooth and was basically a pumpkin spice latte in beer form. (Lindsay jumping in here- seriously the best pumpkin beer ever and I’m bummed we couldn’t locate another bottle for our tasting). 

Pumpkin Beer Tasting 2014 - Beers Now on to the losers of this years tasting. The two huge disappointments in the lot were the Burnside Brewing The Dapper Skeleton and the Woodchuck Hard Cider Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider. The Dapper Skeleton just fell flat. The description was just so enticing with the chillies and cocoa nibs but in reality they didn’t add much to the beer.  In the opinion of all but one of our tasters, the Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider was terrible. I don’t think a single person was able to even finish their two ounce pour. I know I took only one sip before dumping it. 

Below is the tally of our votes:

Pumpkin Beer Results 2014

This was our biggest pumpkin/seasonal beer tasting to date and we look forward to carrying on with it for many years to come.  We’re also planning to host more seasonal and themed tasting parties as well as beer pairing dinners in the future. 

What seasonal beer or drink do you look forward to most?

If you like coffee, beer and babies follow Neil on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Also keep an eye out for his new blog Life Brews launching December 2014. 

RECIPE | Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

Edith was begging for a snack this morning so I listed off her options – applesauce, banana, crackers- I got a no after every option. Since we are lacking in the grocery department right now I tried to rack my brain as to what other options we might have in the house. I thought about baking muffins and then I remembered we had a few bunches of kale in the crisper. I proposed the idea of making kale chips to her and she jumped up and ran to her Learning Tower ready to make kale chips (I took that as a big ol’ yes!)

Tots in The Kitchen - Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips ingredients

I usually go for a cheezy kale chip or just plain olive oil with a dash of salt but today I decided to make salt & vinegar.

What you’ll need:

  • Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips
    Serves 2
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    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    Total Time
    50 min
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    Total Time
    50 min
    Ingredients
    1. - 1 bunch of kale
    2. - salt
    3. - apple cider vinegar
    4. - olive oil
    5. - salad spinner and towel (to try the kale)
    6. - gallon plastic zip bag
    7. - large sheet pan
    Instructions
    1. Pre-heat oven to 300F.
    2. De-stem your kale, rip into chip sized pieces and then wash and dry completely; this will ensure a crispy chip.
    3. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil and ACV into the zip bag along with a pinch or two of salt.
    4. Add the kale to the bag, push out the air and zip close and then massage your kale with oil, vinegar and salt.
    5. Pour out onto a sheet pan and toss into the oven for 30-40 minutes until crispy.
    6. Allow to cool for 5 or so minutes on the sheet pan before gobbling up.
    Running With Tongs http://runningwithtongs.com/

Tots in The Kitchen Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

Also make sure you have a cute helper and taster on hand. You can see more photos of E helping make these kale chips over on Naturally Family.

Tots in The Kitchen - Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips muncher

What are you favorite kind(s) of kale chips? I love cheezy kale chips made in the dehydrator but when I’m in a pinch I like to do olive oil, tamari, nutritional yeast and a dash of pepper (same directions as above) and toss them in the oven for quick crisping.

Summer Entertaining with Blue Diamond // Antipasto Plate with Almond Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. As always all opinions are my own. 

Neil and I have always enjoyed entertaining whether it’s a pizza party, a potluck or our annual pumpkin beer tasting dinner. My favorite time to entertain however is during the summer when the days are longer, the sun is out and there is little need to do much cooking. I prefer to whip up some salads, grill veggie burgers and of course set out a few snack plates to start off any gathering.

Blue Diamond Almonds - Stuffed Peppers

I am particularly partial to antipasto platters because there is little work involved for me and they just look beautiful. I head to the grocery store pick up a few varieties of olives and various other antipasto bar items including peppers (hot and sweet), artichokes, roasted garlic, marinated tomatoes and basically anything else that looks good. I will finish off my platter with toasted bread, pita chips, crackers and hummus. Since I don’t like to do everything store bought I usually add in my own little treat and this time I made almond cheese stuffed peppadew peppers.  Blue Diamond Almonds - Stuffed Peppers 2

What you’ll need for the almond cheese:

  • One 6oz tin of Whole Natural Blue Diamond Almonds, soaked in filtered water overnight
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (this provides the cheesy flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons sweet white miso
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Simply toss all of the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth and then stuff your peppers and enjoy!

Blue Diamond Almonds - Stuffed Peppers top Share you summer entertaining tips below! One of my top tips is to keep it fresh and simple so that you can also enjoy the party!

 

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