Beer vs. wine pairing party

It was a long day at work today, which makes memories of this past weekend that much fonder.

On Saturday, we were invited to our friends’ Kevin and Trisha’s house for a beer vs. wine pairing party. The idea was to bring a dish that pairs well with one or the other and have some fun! Almost immediately I thought of bringing something spicy to pair with a Riesling, and then a moment of brilliance hit me – mini banh mi sliders. Oh yes I did!

Of course it’s me and I can’t just make a favorite recipe and call it good. And well, dessert needed to happen as well (just in case we didn’t have enough). I made some meyer lemon curd a few days prior so the idea of white wine cupcakes with meyer lemon curd filling and marshmallow wine frosting was born. Sounds fitting for a beer vs. wine party, no?

I started with the white wine cupcake recipe base (using half all purpose and half white whole wheat flour – they were perfectly tender, no whole wheatiness in sight. Yes, that’s a word!)

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Then scooped a bit of the cupcake insides (which I saved for a little snack later Winking smile ) and filled the cavities with the meyer lemon curd (don’t overfill them with the curd or they’ll be too intense).

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Lastly came the frosting part. I used 1/2 of this recipe for the marshmallow frosting – it wouldn’t harden so I added extra cream of tartar until it came to the right consistency) and it really tasted like marshmallows. I was so excited I forgot to add a bit of wine to it. Oh well, still amazingly delicious! [Adam said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made!!]

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The recipe made 18 cupcakes. 18 addictively delicious cupcakes. Good thing I had some friends to share it with!! Smile

So now on to the party. We had some super talented cooks, that’s for sure. Andrew impressed us all with his salmon tartar cornets with sweet red onion crème fraiche (recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook!!)

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Unfortunately, while I was totally drooling over this, I couldn’t taste the final product given the ahem, red onions. Sad smile I am certain it’s the most amazing appetizer though (I mean, common – it’s Thomas Keller’s recipe!!) so I plan on tackling it one day. How impressed are you with Andrew? He even made the little cones from scratch!

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For his pairing, he chose the pale ale by the Victory brewery since he just passed his PHD exam. I liked all the pairings from this dinner so I’m going to direct you to Kevin’s post for more comprehensive beer reviews since he knows a lot more about beer than I do. All I can say is that it went down easy! Winking smile

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Next up – my banh mi sliders!! I used grass fed beef instead of turkey, but otherwise followed the recipe to the T. It’s really the best!! I love how the meatballs have a bit of heat, which is enhanced by the spicy mayo and sliced jalapenos and then cooled off by the pickled carrots and daikon radish. Man, I loved these little guys!!

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This sweet Riesling was a really good pairing for this spicy dish.

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Happy customers Smile

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More finger food! Mac & cheese mini cakes to be exact! I believe Melissa used the Wine & Food magazine recipe but don’t quote me on this. These little cakes were perfectly portable, cheesy and indulgent.

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… and paired really well with this crisp prosecco. Seriously, best party idea ever!!

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Onto some Mexican cilantro chicken with all the fixins (cheese, salsa, tortillas), paired with the Hennepin Belgian style saison.

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The chicken had so much flavor and I just love the body of saisons – kind of like wheat beer but with so much more character. Yummmmm.

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Our stomachs were getting quite full but there was just one more savory course. Pizza!!

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Prosciutto, mozzarella

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and balsamic caramelized onion and goat cheese

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Paired with a surprisingly light Syrah. Can’t go wrong with pizza + wine!

At this point all of us really needed an eating break so we moved to the living room for some couch (and more drinking) time. Smile

Eventually these molten chocolate cakes (from the Flour bakery cookbook) baked and well, you can’t let perfectly molten chocolate deliciousness wait for you! Now can you? (don’t answer that!)

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Paired with this aged Mikkeller Belgian strong ale (brewed with chocolate!).

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Heaven!

My cupcakes were a bonus dessert and we all enjoyed them at our leisure.

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Someone kept hoping to sneak a bite but we were a bit quicker Winking smile

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What do you prefer – beer or wine? What’s the coolest “theme party” you’ve ever been to? I’m totally stealing this idea and plan on hosting one of my own this summer! Party smile

The real food diet cookbook–review and giveaway

About a month ago (during my little break), I was contacted about reviewing a new healthy cookbook. I LOVE cookbooks and am slowly growing quite the collection, but I find that there aren’t too many great healthy cookbooks out there and I’m always looking for new inspiration. What arrived at my office a few days later had an intriguing name… The Real Food Diet cookbook. Diet? All right, let’s see what this is all about. I’m definitely all for real food at least.

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The book starts with an outline of Dr. Axe’s diet, defining “real food” and “fake food.” I didn’t really care for the tone of it – it seemed a little gimmicky with claims like “refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans!” (yeah, ok!) which in my opinion actually undermined some of the good messages like avoiding hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners and focusing on hormone/antibiotic free, organic meats and eggs vs. their conventional counterparts. Some of the suggestions also lacked sufficient rationale. For example, the diet allows for small portions of grains but they must be unprocessed and glutten-free. I didn’t understand why glutten-free (for people that do not have glutten allergies) was recommended and further why some recipes in the cookbook portion called for glutten-free pancake mix. Is that unprocessed? Again, why is it better than whole wheat flour?

The book and I generally didn’t get off on the right foot but I was mostly interested in the cookbook portion and that’s what I set out to review. Majority of the recipes included nice looking photos, which I always appreciate (although a few of them did not match the description entirely… a bit sloppy). I also liked the little shortcut signs for meals that are quick, pre/post workout, low on energy, kid-friendly, etc.

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Most of the recipes appeared pretty simple and straight forward and many of them sounded (and looked) delicious. Perhaps because of the intro section, for the most part I felt like this was a diet book (first) with supplemental recipes (second), rather than a cookbook with certain nutritional guidelines. The one clear miss in the cookbook section was the fact that there were no serving sizes noted. In some cases it’s obvious, but for things like shakes, for example – I had no idea whether I was going to get a whole pitcher or just one glass.

Recipe review time!

Chicken Bryan

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This called for 4 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup of butter for 2lbs of chicken. I’m all for not being scared of healthy fats but that confused me and I just couldn’t do it. The end result with significantly less fat, was still pretty delicious. I found the bitterness of the lemon rind a bit too strong on day 1, but it actually mellowed out in a few days in the fridge so the leftovers tasted better. Smile

Egg Tahini Salad

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A bit of a misnomer because it was actually a salad with eggs… not an egg salad. Am I too anal? Again it was a bit annoying that serving sizes were not included but I made a portion and while I had to thin the dressing out with some water, it was quite flavorful and I enjoyed it (the addition of tomatoes was my own and I thought it was brilliant! :lol: )

Next up I made the kale shake which I thought was vile. There is no picture here because after 2 sips (I forced a second one just to make sure I wasn’t crazy), the whole thing went down the drain. I usually force myself to eat whatever I make because I hate wasting food but this one was no go. The ingredients list included kale, cayenne peppers and bananas – this was either going to be genius or well, a disaster. You know what I thought of it by now Winking smile

I’m happy to say it was smooth sailing from here. The rest of the recipes I tried were super flavorful, easy and very satisfying.

I made the raw marinara sauce with ground grass-fed beef (which I pan fried before mixing with the rest of the sauce) and served it over whole wheat gnocchi. The base of the sauce is sun-dried tomatoes which packed so much flavor. Loved this!!

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The rest of the ground beef went into the making of the bison burgers. I know beef isn’t bison but I thought the spices that went into the patties were delicious – I’m sure they’d work great with bison! (Note: the roasted butternut squash and cream cheese additions were my own).

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Next up, I made the blueberry bliss snack bars. I don’t know how many the recipes was supposed to make – I shaped them into 2 and had a fun little photo shoot. Party smile

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These were sweet yet wholesome. I chopped my almonds coarsely and enjoyed their crunch. I also think that making bars into rounds makes them feel like cookies and extra special. I sure felt special eating these Smile

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The last recipe I tried was of the avocado mango salsa. It wasn’t much different from other avocado mango salsas I’ve tried but I was happy to have this sweet/sour combo again. It paired beautifully with grilled shrimp with I served over red quinoa.

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At the end of it all, I think Dr. Axe got some of my trust back. We had a rocky start (and that kale shake is seriously disgusting!) but all these eats were clean, fresh and delivered strong flavors. I bookmarked a lot of the recipes for a potential review and definitely still plan on trying them out!

Would you like to try the recipes yourself? I have one free copy to giveaway!

Here are the rules; there are 6 ways to enter.

1) Leave a comment on this post – tell me what your favorite cookbook is and why.

2+3) Follow me on Twitter (please tell me in the comments what your twitter name is so I can confirm). For an additional entry, you can also tweet about this giveaway (my twitter name must be included to qualify – that’s @elinacooks fyi)

4) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.

5) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.

6) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry) and will end on December 11. I will randomly choose a winner using random.org and announce him/her on Sunday. Good luck! Open-mouthed smile

Healthy snack ideas

Thank you all for your super supportive comments on my last post. Getting it out there really helped me. I was a lot more centered yesterday and much much happier. Getting the day started with pilates (yay, I made it!) helped too. It was great knowing that I already got one workout in before even heading to work. I am not a morning person so I can’t do much more than yoga or pilates this early but that’s still a great start. Plus both of these workouts are great mentally too. They remind me to slow down. Anyways, I feel great so thank you!!

I’ve been thinking recently about how my snacks got pretty boring lately. I often just grab a fruit to-go:

Sometimes I add something else for satiety…

Sometimes it’s fruit and nuts in dried form (a.k.a trailmix)

…sometimes it’s just nuts:

And then there are various bars that are oh so convenient:

Once in a while I get a little more creative and I LOVE snacks like that…

Baby carrots + almond butter

1/2 Food for Life english muffin with Barney Butter and 1/2 banana (one of my favorite snacks!!)

Ww toast with hummus and 1/4 avocado

Baguette with baba ganoush and tomatoes

Crackers with edamame hummus

Baby carrots with hummus and 1 hard-boiled egg

I need to revamp my snacks. What are your favorites?

Onto yesterday’s eats…

BREAKFAST

German fitness bread with cream cheese, kiwi, strawberries and pecans

Close up shot:

This was so hearty and satisfying. The fresh fruit was so sweet and paired nicely with the tangy cream cheese and earthy bread. Yum! :)

LUNCH

I decided to treat myself to a lunch at the farmers market yesterday. I think I’m going to start doing that once a week. It just felt so special… plus I’m supporting local farmers, right? ;)

The Prudential Center farmers market (open Thursdays 11:00-17:00)

The swiss bakers table caught my eye

They had 2 kinds of sandwiches and the guy talked me into the lettuce, tomato, pickle & turkey (and mayo apparently) sandwich. He was 99% sure that the turkey was organic since supposedly the owners pride themselves on all ingredients being organic.

This guy came on a PretzelBaguette – oh my!

So I went on their website after getting back to my desk and I see nothing about the use of organic ingredients. I’m pretty sure this was NOT organic turkey but I still ate it. Not eating it would not make a statement other than a hungry Elina. ;) The bread was the most amazing thing – a soft pretzel in a baguette shape. Fantastic. I’m going to choose the vegetarian option next time or just buy the PretzelBaguette and assemble my own sandwich. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this lunch! :mrgreen:

SNACKS

1 banana, 1/2 apple pie larabar, 1 orange (after workout) <– see, boring!!

WORKOUTS

Pilates reformer class in the am. I’m still on the fence. I LOVE the studio (it’s Boston Body btw) but I think I need some heavy lifting/bootcamp classes in my life to feel complete. And since these classes aren’t cheap (I got a discounted deal for just a few sessions before), they would have to replace my gym membership and everything else. So we’ll see. I have a 30-days unlimited mat membership that I have yet to activate and I think it may be more my speed. Plus it’s a lot cheaper so if I absolutely love it, then it’s more likely to become part of my routine. I’ll keep you guys posted, of course. ;)

After work, I also went to the gym for some cardio. I NEEDED it. Even that’s an understatement. I didn’t have my running shoes (only old sneakers) so I didn’t want to run (much) so I thought I’d try Janetha’s slow paced treadmill workout (with increasing inclines). Yeah, I thought it was going to be all walking but… I don’t know about you but I can’t walk at 5.0. I got to 4.6 but even that got a little too much at 8-9 incline. I basically stuck between 4.4 and 4.5 mph and used Janetha’s incline recommendations. After about 17 minutes I decided that running actually wouldn’t be so bad. I finished the 30 minutes at 6.6-6.7 mph at 1.0 incline. That felt good. I need to bring running shoes to the gym next time. It felt weird running in those babies. After the treadmill, I did like 3 minutes on this weird stepmaster type thing (you move the legs sideways) but it was sooooo boring I couldn’t handle it. I grabbed a jump rope and did that for maybe 30 seconds and then an elliptical with a tv freed up. Sweeeeet. So I did 17 minutes on that, again using Janetha’s “moves” – elliptical HIIT. I was sweaty and happy by the end. After a little stretching and it was time to get moving.

DINNER

My grandmas from Israel are in town so I rushed to my parents’ house after my workout (and a shower of course!). We ate dinner there.

Short-rib + polenta prepared by my dad. It was really good.

+ a little plate of hummus, tomatoes and pickled radish

I went back for more hummus (on 1/2 toast) and more pickled radish after this. Yum! And had a glass of Pinot Noir that my dad got me for my birthday. It was the same wine I had last time at Bin26 and declared it was my favorite wine of all time. It was still good last night. Not sure if I can give it the same mark though. Maybe I need to taste it one more time, just to be sure. ;)

And that’s how you do it. Sorry for the crazy long post. I guess I was in a chatty mood. :lol:

Don’t forget to enter the RPS giveaway. I’ll declare the winner in my next post.

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