Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beer Quest Update

My dear readers,

Clearly, "Beer" is just going to grace my blog titles until I finish my pumpkin ale quest, so bear with me.

Here are my reviews of my recent testers:

First, we have Upslope's Pumpkin Ale. It is out of Boulder, Colorado, and I must say it has been the best pumpkin ale, that I have tried thus far. It has a definite pumpkin taste, and has warm hints of pumpkin spice. This ale has a little higher alcohol content, and comes in a pint size can. Needless to say, I had a bit of a buzz, and felt ready for fall! Give this one a try! (Although, I must disclose that my husband was not a fan. He felt that it had a sour taste.) (No, I did not try this one with my brother. He has been super busy, and missing out on beer drinking with his older, cooler sister.)
Upslope Pumpkin Ale

Next up, we have Samuel Adams Oktoberfest. I enjoyed this gem at an actual bar! (Before you say anything, yes I am aware that this is not a pumpkin ale, but it is seasonal, so I'm justified in my choice to try it!) My husband took me to Outback Steakhouse for a "date night." We ended up sitting at the bar, drinking beer, and talking sports with the other men at the bar. So, really, I was just sitting in on "guy's night." Nevertheless, I tried the gigantic serving of Oktoberfest. It was amazing! It is like all of the beauty of fall was condensed into beer form. If you have not tried this, do so, and if you can find it on-tap, even better! 

Sam Adams Oktoberfest

Give these two a try, and enjoy the rest of fall before it's gone! (Obviously if you are under 21, enjoy your fall, but no beer for you!) 

The next post will have an update on my fall, and a recipe for cinnamon, dark chocolate covered pretzels, so stay tuned. 

In the meantime, count the blessings in your life and give thanks!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birthdays and Beer

Dear Readers,

My October is going well. I've been to the doctor only a few times so far, so I'm going to chalk that up to a win! The doctors have pinpointed that my Vitamin D level is abysmal, AGAIN! So, now the goal is to find out what keeps causing it, since low vitamin d levels can attribute to a host of auto-immune diseases and cancers. (Awesome...) But, for now, I am on a crazy high supplement (which can cause other problems if taken for long periods of time), and hoping for the best. Since I have started the supplement, I haven't been as overwhelmingly fatigued, so I was actually able to celebrate my birthday! I'm now the ripe old age of 27. I must say, I am starting to feel old. (I told this to my husband's seventy-something grandmother, who proceeded to laugh at me hysterically, and say, "Oh, yeah, you are so old!") I've decided that 27 is on the slippery slope to 30, and I feel way too unaccomplished to be rounding my thirties already!

Accomplishment of the week: Bought a new headband! Killing it! See what I mean, not even close to ready for 30! Upside to this pic though, I posted it on Twitter, and got a retweet from one of the Real Housewives of Orange County, Lydia McLaughlin! (Now would be a good time to confess that I am a shameless reality t.v. junkie...) Follow me on Twitter if you're bored @JessicaSlats (Oh, and clearly, a shameless self-promoter...)

At any rate...

I have, of course, been baking up a storm in October! 

Here are some of the treats I have made recently: 

Taco Ring: This is an easy to make weeknight meal, that I stole from my mom. She, however, has a round stone that she bakes her ring on, and it comes out prettier and crispier! What you will need: 2 Pillsbury Crescent Roll tubes, 1 pound ground beef; Taco Seasoning; Mexican Cheese. What to do: Brown the ground beef;  Lay out Crescent Rolls into a starburst formation; Spread ground beef around crescent ring; Sprinkle with cheese; Close the ends of the startburst into the center; and then Bake (Follow Baking Instructions on Crescent Roll Canister.) Enjoy!   
Homemade Chex Mix: There is something about the smell of homemade Chex Mix that is amazing! Way better than the bag stuff! Just follow the traditional recipe on any of the Chex cereal boxes. It is worth the time to make this yourself every once in a while. 
Pear Bread: This was kind of a pain, but it turned out amazing! I say it was a pain because the recipe calls for you to grate pears, which I have learned, is a tricky business. Here is the recipe I used: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/12/pear-bread/  Definitely give this one a try, even if it is a little more work! It has a great fall-time taste, and it is a break from the usual pumpkin or banana bread. 

Apple Pie Squares: These turned out beautifully! They are absolutely delicious, and easy enough to make on a week night, since the recipe uses pre-made puff pastry sheets.  Here is the recipe I used:  http://www.food.com/recipe/individual-puff-pastry-apple-pies-91246 One tip that I have is to bake them a hair longer than 20 mins. I ended up going 25 mins to get the golden color. (Though, I'm pretty sure the issue is with my oven. I have noticed some uneven heating.)

I also made an Apple Pie for my birthday, that pretty much fell apart. (Hence the lack of picture.) But, my friends and family braved eating it anyway. I also did a variation on a pumpkin bread recipe, by adding white chocolate chips. That one turned out well, but I forgot to take a picture. 

On top of my cooking and baking for October, my brother and I have taken it upon ourselves to spend our time searching for the perfect pumpkin ale. I am not a beer drinker by any means, and I'm pretty sure I've developed some sort of allergy to hops or something, but I soldier on. My brother is a micro-brew guy, since he is a total hipster, so I decided to join the search with him. Below is a picture of our first test beer. Not a fan. It has a very sour taste, which I attributed to the notes of "cranberry" that the bottle boasts. My brother wasn't a fan either. Feel free to leave us any recommendations! We are open to suggestions. 

Pumpkick by New Belgium: Unfortunately, I now have three of these just festering in my fridge.

Well, that's all I have for updates, my friends. Here is a pic of the little guy and I relaxing in our slippers, since the weather has finally decided to cool down!  (No, my son does not really have frog feet. Shocker, I know.) Until next time...Take stock of the blessings in your life, and give thanks!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall Time Recipes!

Dear Readers,

Since I have been sick, and I have lost a disgusting amount of weight, I have been focused on food lately. I have been baking and cooking up a storm. There is something about creating food that always seems to calm me. I have baked three different kinds of cookies this month, a couple new crock pot recipes, and I have dabbled in new smoothie/milkshake combinations. All of my updates this month are rather depressing and plain, so I decided to just give you all pictures and recipes of a few of the goodies I have made. Why not? It's my blog, and I do what I want to. So, enjoy!

First off, I have been obsessed with smoothies and milkshakes! The first one pictures is a Strawberry/Blueberry/Chocolate Smoothie/Milkshake (Yes, that is a mouthful): It is made with 1 cup Whole Milk, 5-6 Strawberries, 1/4 Frozen Blueberries, 2 Tbs Nesquik, and a few ice cubes. Blend until smooth. The second one is a Blueberry/Chocolate Milkshake: It is made with 1 cup Whole Milk, 1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries, and 2 Tbs Nesquik. Blend until smooth. The third is an Apple/Oatmeal/Cinnamon/Honey Milkshake: (Now, the taste of this one is great, but I had a hard time with the texture) 1 cup Whole Milk, 1 Apple (peeled and rough chop), 1/4 Cup Quick oats, 1 Tsp Cinnamon, 2 Tbs Raw Honey

Since it is officially fall (My favorite time of year!), the rest of these recipes are filled with pumpkin! I LOVE cooking with pumpkin and pumpkin spices. Pumpkin is a very healthy and versatile ingredient. One recipe that I will give you that I do not have pictured is to make brownies with canned pumpkin. Pumpkin Brownies: Mix together 1 15oz can of pumpkin and 1 box of brownie mix, follow baking directions on the box (which is usually 350 degrees for 23 mins). I got this recipe from the Hungry Girl, and I love it. Plus, it is completely safe to eat the batter, because there is no raw egg. So, my son loves licking the spoon and bowl after I put the brownies to bake! I will offer a few tips:1. I like to cook it a hair longer than it says to, because the pumpkin is very moist and I don't like my brownies too moist. 2. I like to put in 1/4 mini chocolate chips. 3. I have found the most success with Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix

Now....For my pictured items. Left: Pumpkin Waffles - I got this recipe from Betty Crocker. It is easy to follow, and made for a great breakfast! Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/pumpkin-waffles-with-maple-apple-syrup/e83f9993-0032-4712-bc8d-94f61695e0f7  (No, mine don't look like Betty's, and I don't have the pecans because they would kill me.) Right: Pumpkin Muffins w/ Raw Honey - I saw this while I was scrolling through Pinterest. These are super simple! 1 15oz can of pumpkin, 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and then follow the cupcake baking directions. I topped mine with raw honey, and they turned out amazing! In case any of you are like me, and you never have pumpkin pie spice on hand, the ratios I use are: 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp allspice. (Regular pumpkin pie spice also calls for 1/4 tsp of ginger, but, again, I never have it, and I don't feel like my spice is missing anything without the ginger.) 

These cookies will blow your mind! I have already made them a few times, and my family has fallen in love. These are Pumpkin Oatmeal cookies. Again, these are a great Pinterest find. Here is a link to the recipe: http://dashofsavory.com/sweet/pumpkin-oatmeal-cookies/ No, my cookies do not look like the picture. I made mine without chocolate chips or the maple glaze. I can't really eat chocolate with my current health issues, so I left the chips out, and the glaze seemed like it would be too sweet. I think they are great without both, but I think that either chocolate chips or some chopped nuts would be great too. Maybe even white chocolate chips? Or raisins? This is a very versatile cookie! The recipe makes 4 dozen, and they still don't last long in my house. I made some yesterday, and packed a couple bags for the guys working on our house, so our stock is diminishing quickly.

Not all of the treats I have made lately are food. (Though all of the ingredients in this are safe to eat!) I made a Pumpkin Spice Sugar Body Scrub. Nothing starts off fall quite like pumpkin pie, so why not smell like it! I have been making my own sugar scrub for a while now, and I absolutely love it. My skin has honestly never felt better. I use it in the shower every day, and I don't need to moisturize when I get out. (It's always nice to skip a step in the morning when you are the mother of a toddler.) The recipe for this scrub is: 2 cups Organic sugar, 2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and then cover the sugar with Organic olive oil. I also add in a few drops of vitamin e oil. The olive oil can easily  be substituted for sweet almond or grape seed oil. I just prefer the olive oil, because I am allergic to sweet almond, and I don't feel like grape seed moisturizes as well. Mix together, and store in an airtight container. Tips: 1. Try not to use a glass container - I have done a few of my scrubs in glass (even ones that I gave away, sorry A), and it gets slippery in the shower, and you don't want to end up breaking a glass container. 2. I like my scrub to be a little on the "wet" side, so I use more oil, but you can easily use less and just add water to the scrub in your hand in the shower.  3. Your hand + Scrub = The best loofah. You don't need a loofah or sponge with this scrub. In fact, using one, causes you to go through the scrub faster. 

Here is a pic of my table all set for fall! (I still need to get a fall themed table runner, so don't judge me for my naked table) I hope you all get a chance to make some fall inspired treats. Fall really is the best time of the year. Until next time, count your blessings and give thanks!

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby