The Homebrew Experience

Kris has a friend who has offered to let us apprentice his brewing expertise in hopes of perhaps brewing our own beer for the wedding–how awesome would that be? So we headed out to his house out in the boondocks (Palamino Valley, approximately 1 hour from our house…we learned as we arrived 30 minutes late at least). He and his wife bought their house through Kris and the three of them really hit it off, they and their friends we met were really really fun people to spend the day with. Here is their property.

Unfortunately, the house Kris sold them doesn’t have a garage, so they have these cargo containers on their property. Did I mention they have 40 acres?

I cleverly cut off the rest of the word and just kept the green, in honor of my sister, the Green. Anyway, so after a little bit of hanging out, we got started on the brewing. Mitch had all the stuff in terms of supplies, an outdoor propane burner, the big stainless steel pots, large buckets, mesh bags, iodine, yeast, and other stuff I am forgetting. The stuff he told us to buy was some actual brewing product (the guy at the homebrew store gave us supplies for an amber beer with a vague recipe) and a carboy (the large glass container you let the fermentation take place in). So first, we had to boil some water. There was a lot of anticipation so this seemed to take forever.

The grain was in the bag, inside of the bucket. We poured the boiling water into the bucket and let all the grains soak for about an hour or so.

In a separate container, we boiled another pot of water, and this was for us…for our brew recipe we had. We had a malt extract, it was a large jar of molasses-type stuff. We poured it into the pot while it was boiling. Side note, if you are ever doing this at home kids, do not fill the jar half way with water, put the lid on and shake. We did this in an effort to get the thick stuff off the sides of the container but after two shakes, it exploded and those with exposed skin were scalded. It made us laugh but two people actually got a little burned. No bueno. #liveandlearn

We mixed in the malt and then added our little bag of hops. It looked like a little bag of rabbit food.

This had to boil for another hour. So it was around now, that I should have realized that even though it was not hot out, I was not immune to the sun. But I didn’t and as I write this, I feel my sun burn. I only bring this up because the brewing was a long process that kept us outside but it wasn’t want I was expecting and therefore didn’t think about my skin. We did some hanging out, some eating, and some laughing. Good times were had.

After the hour passed, it started to bubble over, it looked a little disgusting but smelled great!

So this is where the hops ended up…atop the pot.

So this is the critical time, we get the hot liquid cooled down, then we can add the yeast and seal it up and let it wait for a few weeks. What the liquid i pouring down into is the carboy. I don’t know why it’s called a carboy (shrug).

Well, this is where things went south. We loaded the heavy and hot carboy onto a hand truck and wheeled it carefully down to the bathtub in the house. Upon putting it into the cold water of the bathtub, the glass shattered! There went our beer.

By this point in the day and several beers in, none of us really got mad or frustrated, we just sort of went with it. I liked that about this group of people. I think Mitch felt really bad, but we certainly didn’t care, I mean, it was a bummer, but we had had an awesome day leading up to this point and figured the next time, we wouldn’t let this happen again. That was our lesson of the day. The hot water and the cold water got in a fight, and the poor carboy didn’t stand a chance. At least now, we have a much better idea of what is involved with home brewing. It definitely isn’t a job for your kitchen. It is much better taken care of in a garage or back yard. We look forward to round two of Palamino Brew.


Viva la First

I feel like I’ve done quite a bit in my (almost) 30 years. I’ve gone to college, I’ve lived abroad, I’ve fallen in and out of love, I have amazing friends whom I’ve shared more than I’d have ever imagined…. so it really catches me off guard when I go somewhere I’ve been before, and really do some things that are new to my small world. Around the end of February, Kris and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate his best friend’s 30th birthday. Upon arrival we went to Bryce’s house for a BBQ (nothing new here), and following this we headed to the Hard Rock Hotel (I’ve stayed there a number of times for school since it’s right across from UNLV). From this point forward were new adventures that were new to me and made me feel like a was a kid who just turned 21 (this isn’t something I’m proud of!).

Let me just start out by saying that I had had a few glasses of wine, but wasn’t drunk (yet). We were going to the Hard Rock to see Motley Crue. I am not a particular FAN of Motley Crue, however I know I like the genre of music because I do love Def Leppard, and I like live music in general so I was excited. There was a big group of us.

Looking like super stars


Anyway, Kris and I started to get a little silly and drank a little more beer and needed to go to the bathroom. This is where things get a little fuzzy. If memory serves (though it doesn’t very well) we were not allowed to re-enter because we didn’t have our ticket stubs (I figured this out based on our text log). So we decided to go get some MORE dinner at the Pink Taco. After this, I was trying to stay in touch with the gang in the show to make sure we could meet up after but in our drunkenness we decided we were exhausted and wanted to go home. Thank goodness Chelsea snapped a pic of Motley Crue! Unfortunately, it wont upload on my computer (thanks a lot wordpress!). At the very least, it’s on my Facebook. So Kris and I board a taxi in a state of drunk and tired mixed (likely very mild for what a Vegas taxista is used to) and ask him to head to Summerlin. After a few different destination directions from Chelsey, first their house, then one of the station casinos, then Bryce’s house, we had really confused the taxi driver! When he couldn’t find Bryce’s house, I decided he had earned enough from us, the meter read $75 and of course when I ran the card it asked for a tip, I went cheap and gave 10% bringing the bill to just under a hundred bucks! We walked a block or two using my phone to guide us drunks through the cool Las Vegas air. Lucky for us, Bryce bought the most comfortable couch and we crashed out, it was about 11pm. Wow. The way we were acting, you’d think it was around 5am.

The next day was followed by an absolutely horrific stomach problem/hangover. It was AWFUL! I didn’t eat a thing all day… but had a few more firsts that day. After I was able to stand up without feeling completely nauseous, Erin took us to Red Rock Canyon. I was blown away with that place. It made me so much more appreciative of the area down at the tip of Nevada that I had such little respect for. As far as I knew, Las Vegas was a strip of casinos surrounded by greedy urban sprawl that was full of vacated foreclosed properties. I am glad Erin took us out to this awesome place, despite the pit in my stomach and the part of the nausea that remained.

Of course we only have a few pictures because I wasn’t feeling so hot and was relying on Kristopher to take some good photos.

Can’t you see my pain in that photo?

From here we headed to just around those hills behind me and saw something else I’d never seen before… Wild Ass!

Yep, these wild donkeys come right up to your car, begging for food! There were 7 or 8 of them and a whole line of cars letting them come up and sniff. I had no idea there were wild donkeys in Las Vegas. I think I’d prefer mustangs we have in Reno, there is something about a wild horse that is far more sexy than this donkey…nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this!

They are definitely not shy!

After this we went back home, I ate, and we took a nap. Tonight was the fancy celebration for Erin. Dinner around 8, and then going to a Las Vegas club on the strip…certainly some more firsts! We ate at a restaurant at the Palazzo which was the same hotel the club was in. I’d like to say that this was my first time being under dressed for going out, but sadly it wasn’t. I am not a short skirt and high heels kind of girl so I think that had I not been with this VIP group, I would have been denied at the door because I am sad to say that I was the ONLY female in jeans!

The club was really awesome, and having VIP bottle service was definitely a bonus first had I been drinking. I had a lot of fun there, though I wasn’t feeling the most energized for drinking. I had tried to choke down a glass of wine at dinner but couldn’t so I stuck with red bull to keep my eyes open. The people watching was the most fun, considering I wasn’t socially lubricated enough for crazy dancing.

Kris stuck by my side, which I appreciated but I felt like his friends thought I was forcing him to stay with me sitting on the couch and not dancing but he assured me that he was where he wanted to be and didn’t feel forced. The good thing about me not drinking was that another first came along, driving everyone home in Erin’s BMW, loved that!

Well just to recap, here is my list of firsts:

First time being completely drunk in Las Vegas (not sure why that took so long to happen), first hangover in Las Vegas, first big hair band concert, first $100 cab ride, first trip to Red Rock Canyon, first time being out with a group of 20 people and not drinking, first Las Vegas club experience, first club experience with VIP bottle service, first time driving a BMW. Whew…. I feel much more mature and wise after all that.


Holiday Feast 2011

DSCN5299 DSCN5316

DSCN5321 DSCN5301Enjoy the recipes I cooked for some friends last weekend! It was quite an ordeal but a success nonetheless and a good experience for future nights of fancy hosting!

Sweet-and-Salty Pecans (Martha Stewart)


Vegetable oil cooking spray

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

coarse salt

pound pecans (4 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Stir together sugar, cream, and ¾ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add pecans, and stir until well coated. Spread pecans on baking sheet in an even layer.

2. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until browned and toasted, 20 to 22 minutes. Sprinkle pecans  with ¾ teaspoon salt, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let cooI.


Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Ginger Cookies (Rachel Ray)


3 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup molasses

36 miniature peanut buttercups, such as Reese’s, chilled

Confectioners sugar, for rolling

1.ln a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Whisk in the ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until smooth, light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the egg for 30 seconds, then mix in the molasses. Scrape down the bowl. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, form the dough into a disk and seal tightly. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 tbsp of dough at a time, mold the dough around each peanut butter cup to enclose completely. Place 12dough balls on each of the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are just set and slightly cracked, 12 to 14 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool for5 minutes.

4. Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar. then return to the rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar again before serving.

Spinach Dip (Martha Stewart)


This dip tastes best cold. Chill the avocados in advance if serving the dip immediately. Baby spinach can be used, but regular spinach will provide more texture and fiber.

½ cup finely chopped shallots (from 2 large shallots)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 3 cloves)

10 ounces spinach, rinsed well

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 medium-ripe Hass avocados. chilled

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons

fresh lemon juice

12 ounces sugar snap peas

9 small slices pumpernickel bread cut into triangles

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic, stirring often until tender, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook, covered until wilted, about 4 minutes. Uncover. Cook until liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, puree avocados, yogurt, lemon juice, and 1,4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth. Season with pepper. Finely chop spinach mixture. Stir in avocado puree. Serve with snap peas and bread for dipping.


Clam Dip (Kent family recipe)

ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes or so

1 square pack of cream cheese

1 can of chopped clams

1 tbs of lemon juice

1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp of minced garlic from a jar)

Combine all ingredients, including approximately 1/3 of juice from the can of clams and mix with electric mixer.

Butternut Squash Soup with Poppy Seeds (Skinny Bitch)


1 Large butternut squash

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tbs grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 qt vegetable stock

½ cup water

1 large red apple, chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp agave nectar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp dried sage

¼ cup poppy seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, creating two equal halves. Scoop the seeds and place squash, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle each squash half with 1 tbs of the olive oil to create a small pool of oil in the cavity. Put one garlic clove in each cavity. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the squash in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cooled, peel off the squash skin and cut the squash into large chunks. Reserve the garlic cloves.

In a large pot, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat. Add the onion, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and the water. Add in the butternut squash, apple, and the two baked garlic cloves. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until the apple is very tender. The squash should already be tender. Remove from the heat and pour half of the soup into a food processor or blender. Let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the remaining soup in the pan to cool. Puree the soup until smooth. Add the remaining soup and blend together until creamy. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the ginger, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sage. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with the poppy seeds.

Tuscan-Style Turkey Alla Porchetta (Martha Stewart)



If you can, order your turkey from a local farm, and ask for it to be boned with the skin on. The wing and leg bones should be removed, and the turkey tenders should be included. Make sure you have the wing tips, neck, and giblets for the gravy. Rolling the turkey ensures that each slice will include both light and dark meat.

15 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele prosciutto

1 whole boned, skin-on pasture-raised heritage turkey (10 to 12 pounds), wing tips, neck, and giblets reserved for Giblet Gravy

Flaked sea salt

3 tablespoons minced garlic

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons tender fennel fronds, finely chopped

¼ cup fennel seeds, coarsely ground

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange prosciutto slices vertically side by side on a cutting board, overlapping each by 1/2 inch. Place turkey, skin side down. on the prosciutto slices, with wings at top and legs at bottom. Arrange turkey tenders at each side to fill in the space between the wings and legs.

2, Sprinkle turkey with 2 tablespoons salt, including the back side of the tenders and under any other loose pieces of meat. Sprinkle garlic, fennel fronds, fennel seeds, rosemary and sage evenly over turkey. Arrange turkey so there are no separations (turkey should be in one even layer).

3. Starting from the bottom, roll turkey tightly with prosciutto, keeping prosciutto in place. Tie together with kitchen twine at 3-inch intervals.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown rolled turkey on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a roasting rack set on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting

pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center reaches 165° and juices run clear, about 50 minutes. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with gravy.

Giblet Gravy (Martha Stewart)



The base of this full-flavored gravy is a stock that includes the turkey’s giblets, wing tips, and neck. Start the gravy as the rolled turkey is browning.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Reserved wing tips, neck, and giblets from Tuscan Style Turkey alla Porchetta

2 celery stalks, sliced lengthwise into 2-inch pieces

1 onion, ends trimmed, unblemished skin left on, quartered

1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups water

1 tablespoon celery seeds

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 fresh bay leaf

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

1 thyme sprig

1 sage leaf

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

coarse salt

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Brown wing tips, neck, and giblets, about 3 minutes per side, and transfer to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon oil to saucepan. Cook celery, onion, and carrot, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and simmer, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom, until liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

2. Return wing tips, neck, and giblets to pan along with water, celery seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 1 hour. Strain stock through a fine sieve ; discard solids.

3. Wipe out sauce pan. Reduce heat to low. Add butter, and melt. Add flour, and cook, sirring occasionally, for 3 minutes (do not let flour brown). Gradually wisk in 3 cups of warm stock. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Storage Gravy can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Jillian & Kristopher’s Mashers (Serendipity)

Serves 15

3 pounds of golden or red potatoes

2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic

½ cube of butter

1 ½ cups plain fat free Greek yogurt

salt and pepper

Boil or bake your mashed potatoes until soft. In a large bowl, combine cooked potatoes with skin with all other ingredients and mash with a spoon or mix with beaters. Adjust garlic, salt, pepper, butter and yogurt amounts according to taste.

Pecan Green Beans (Rachel Ray)


1 lb string beans

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt and pepper

½ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Toss with the parsley, zest and EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Top with the pecans just before serving.

Eggnog Panettone Bread Pudding (Rachel Ray)


1 loaf panettone (Italian holiday bread)

3 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

2 cups half-and-half

¼ cup dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Vegetable cooking spray

Optional Accompaniments

Vanilla ice cream

Whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Place a kettle of water on to boil. With a serrated knife, remove the side crusts from the panettone. Cut the bread into %~ to I-inch dice. You should have 5 cups. Place the cubed panettone in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, thoroughly whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, half-and-half, rum, vanilla, and a healthy grating of fresh nutmeg. Pour this over the bread cubes. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable cooking spray. Ladle the bread-eggnog mixture gently and evenly into the muffin cups. Some big cubes sticking up look nice. Place the filled muffin tin in a high-rimmed baking sheet or a large roasting pan. Transfer to the preheated oven and carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into the pan, creating a water bath for the muffin tin to sit in.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bread pudding may be served warm or cold. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be great accompaniments.