Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ho, Ho, HO it's a Belgium Christmas

Erin and I decided to celebrate Christmas a bit early at our new favorite bar: Armsby Abbey.
We recently went to brunch there and when we paid our bills we were given a flyer for their Christmas Celebration! They replace all of their taps with Christmas inspired brews.


So here's what we gulped:

My 1st was: De Koninck Winter, Belguim Strong Pale
- Cider-like aromas of Sweet apple, caramel, toffee, nuts and spice.
(I really liked this one! i think my favorite)
Erin's 1st: Reindeers Revolt (i think she picked it because of the name!), English Strong Ale
- Buttery malts dominate the aroma with some butterscotch, cinnamon, caramel
and a bit of dough

my 2nd: Holidale (nitro) Berkshire Brewing, American Barley Wine
- Sweet, spicy and fruity
I picked this one because erin's sister works at Berkshire breweries
AND wine..come on!
Erin's 2nd: Gouden Carolus Noel, Belgian Strong Dark
- great aromas of chocolate, spice, vanilla and citrus orange.
The epitome of what Christmas beer should be (they actually said that :)

Erin said that this tasted just like root beer! odd. they had great glasses too!

We also sampled one of their amazing "slates". This one had: sweet potato hummus, pita, bread, blanched almonds, olives, a chipotle dip and pancetta...perfect nice. perfect food. perfect brew.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home for the Holiday's with Tom and Jerry's

How is it that I grew up in Watertown and have never tasted a Tom and Jerry's??? I blame my parents for not introducing me to them, mainly my dad as I soon found out that my sister monica has been introduced numerous times...let's just say Santa has alot to make up for haha!
Needless to say both erin and I were introduced to these fine fellows on our recent trip to Watertown. and boy oh boy are they tasty.
Now I wish this could be a post where i describe how you to can create this wonderful christmasy drink on your own...but its a family secret! Only to be sampled at The Crystal Restaurant.

Now after some googling I learned that Tom and Jerry's are an actual drink with an actual history, but like most traditions each maker has their own additions that are impossible to replicate...this is true of the Crystal too!

So good luck, but if you want to try the real deal...head down to Watertown's Square :). Thanks Mom and Dad!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Cookies, Carols and Cheer

What would the holiday's be without cookies? no holiday at all if you ask me!

My friend Molly just bought a new house and her kitchen is the perfect setting for the baking extravaganza we decided to attempt last weekend. Molly and I emailed a bunch of cookie ideas back and forth and decided to be lofty and try to bake six different cookies in one day...we succeeded!

Our lofty list included:
-No bakes
-Peanut butter blossoms (aka the cookies with the Hershey kiss!)
-sugar cookies (roll out cookies)
-gingerbread men
-Fig 'n' Flax thumbprint (Eatingwell's 2009 cookie winner)
-Lemon Coconut Snowballs

Now if you click above three of these are from the KAF cookbook! great tool and of course baking with Molly King Arthur was the star of the day. We used KAF in all of our recipes. Molly really thinks it makes a difference in the quality of the cookie!

We started the night before by cranking out the no bakes.
they are super simple and take all of five mins. Since these need to sit we thought they would be perfect to do the night before.

The next morning Molly and I were ready to begin. We decided to start with the Peanut butter blossoms.
We got all the ingredients ready and started in. Molly has a great mixer so it made baking alot more efficient and fun!

I mixed and molly unwrapped kisses. She did a great job of "kissing" each cookie. We also opted to add a little snow to each one to make them more festive!

Next up were the roll out because we knew those would take awhile to cut and bake. Thankfully Molly is a pro, and actually enjoys rolling and she took charge of those:They were pretty amazing!

While she worked away on those I decided to try out the two new cookies: Fig n Flax and the Lemon coconut cookies!

I knew that the coconut ones had to cool and then be rolled in sugar again, so those came first. Check out that fresh lemon rind...they were so fresh and light!

and then later rolled in confectionery sugar....:)

Next up were the Fig n I know that these sound healthy, and they were by far the healthiest tasting, but I really enjoyed them. Take note that fig and anything pretty much appeals to me :). The Flax give the cookie a bit of a nutty/whole wheat flavor too!
Check out all those spices. We added some holly and berries to christmasize these too! (molly is a genius)

We took turns putting cookies in the oven and thankfully they all cooked at the same temperature too!
If you are wondering where erin was, she was in charge of the camera (and spent some of the morning outside taking pictures of the first snow!)

After a morning of baking we tackled the big challenge...decorating...again Molly to the rescue. She has a great piping set that makes decorating cookies a whole lot prettier and a whole lot easier!! Check out some of our handy work:
genius at work
Where did this decorator come from???

Not to be overshadowed we also threw together some gingerbread to make gingerbread men too! These baked while we tackled some sugar cookies and then they got added to the counter to be dressed to impress!

Finished Product:


Saturday, November 28, 2009


This year's thanksgiving was full of family, fun and festivities! This was the first year that I spent away from my family, but I got to spend it with my future in-laws!

Let's rewind to "the night before Thanksgiving...." and all through the kitchen, not a pan was left unused! Erin's Family hosted Thanksgiving at their house this year, however Erin's mom graciously let me bring my numerous side dishes! I really loved having everyone over at our apartment this year and I was nervous I was going to miss out on cooking/baking all my favorites. So, when Karen gave me the green light to cook away...I did just that!

My contributions included: my grandma's rolls, My mom's (and Betty crockers ;) Homemade Apple Pie, Gingered Pumpkin Pie, Green Bean Casserole, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Horseradish Cream, AND Sweet Potato Pie!

I tried really hard to pair the list down...but I just didn't want to leave out anything!

The day before I spent a few hours baking, prepping and cooking so that Thanksgiving would be stress free! I started with the baking and by roasting our sugar pumpkin for fresh pumpkin puree. My grandma's rolls were next up because they have to sit for a few hours prior to baking.

Next was the pie crust and filling...everything came together quite easily and I was VERY happy with the way my pies turned out!

I next moved on to prepping all my casseroles. I made each of these last year so I was pretty comfortable with the directions for each. I did implement a major change to my Brussels sprouts recipe this year! Since I am not really eating meat these days, and I really LOVE Brussels, I took the advice of a fellow baker online and substituted the bacon for TJ's Soy was amazing! Added a great spice to the dish.

Oh...and this is what erin did while I cooked....

she's all mine! (you can see me working away in the background. i love it)

erin and I celebrated that night with a bottle of prosseco at a cute little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood. A much needed drink!

The planning turned out great and made for a stress free Thanksgiving day! Erin's sister Lizzie and Mom created a great table scape, and we had some herbed goat cheese, fruit and nuts as the meal cooked away....

We had such a great Thanksgiving. I was very Thankful to be around family and fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hers and Hers Chili and Pumpkin Cornbread

Although we are smack in the middle of fall and football season I have yet to make my turkey could possibly be that this is the first fall I really haven't eaten any it just hasn't been on my radar. But apparently is has been on erin's! So when she ever so nicely demanded that I whip up some chili I gladly agreed!
She offered to enjoy it meatless with me, but I figured why not just make two separate batches?
I use this tried and true Weight Watchers Turkey Chili Recipe, with a few additions of my own.
What goes good with chili (other than beer) why cornbread of course! I had seen this recipe for Pumpkin Cornbread earlier this month and its been in the back of my cooking brain ever since.

After a quick trip to the grocery store for minimal supplies I got to work!

I decided to start the batch of chili with all of the veggies and brown the meat separately. Once I added the spices I then transferred 1/2 the chili over the turkey meat, and left the other 1/2 meat free! hence: Hers and Hers Chili.
My add ins:
-frozen corn
-butternut squash
I will add that its mighty spicy, but that's the way that erin likes it! You can feel free to reduce the chili powder or red pepper flakes to your desired hotness.

While the chili was simmering away I went to work on the pumpkin cornbread. I simply followed the directions (no molasses in house so I substitute some maple syrup per erin's suggestion) and waited to bake it until we were ready to eat (i think cornbread is the best warm out of the oven!).

Here's a close up of both....

YUM YUM. The cornbread had a nice holiday spice to it and cut the heat a bit in the chili.

Armsby Abby

When erin and I lived in NYC we use to love to go to Brunch on the weekends. It was so nice to sit at an outdoor place, or inside in a cozy pub and have unlimited mimosas and breakfast food at 1pm!
Since we've moved we haven't gone out to brunch. However our friend recently recommended a place in Worcester, Armsby Abbey. She mentioned that all of their food was local and their beer selection was impressive to say the least!
It certainly exceeded our expectations.

To start they have a free parking lot and inside of the restaurant reminded us alot of places in brooklyn and NY that we loved! Upon arriving we were greeted warmly at the door and given our choice of a window seat (they had cushions and everything!) or a high bar table. We opted for the bar table and took our seats. The beer list was massive so we started with cocktails.
Erin got the Cabin Fever which consist of: Vermont Spirits Maple & Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodkas, Mathilde Poire Liqueur and Cabin Fever Maple Liqueur served straight up with a Cinnamon stick garnish. She actually got a Pear instead of a cinnamon stick.
I chose The French Kiss: St. German Liquour, prosseco, fresh lemon juice.
They were both amazing!

Then on to the food. After alot of hemming and hawing (I really wanted to just get cheese and bread ;). Erin ordered the breakfast calzone, Housemade Corned Beef Hash featuring Niman Ranch Corned Beef (Alameda, CA), Red Peppers, Sweet Empire Onions, Red Potato, Vermont Cheddar and Local Eggs from Gibson’s Dairy Farm (Worcester, MA) served with a side of our Homemade Hollandaise Sauce. I got the veggie quiche: Roasted Pumpkin & Sautéed Leeks, Chevre from Crystal Brook Farm (Sterling, MA), fresh Basil and Local Eggs from Gibson’s Dairy Farm (Worcester, MA) served with a side of dressed farm greens from Berberian Farm (Northboro, MA).

As you can see the ingredients are from local farms and they also pair each food item with a beer!
After our cocktails we each ordered a beer too. I went for the BBC Raspberry and erin got the Dogfish Pale Ale.

Everything was SOOOOOO good!
Their menu changes every week and we have plans to return for pre-dinner drinks before erin's birthday.
They made regulars out of us for sure!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Marathon Munching!

So of course most people carb up before marathon's right? And who was I to argue with tradition. Although I will say that it was also erin's first trip back to NYC since we moved so we wanted to celebrate that as well. After a quick trip to the running expo we were ready to eat!
We had already decided to hit up our most frequented neighborhood, the West Village.

We first made a pit stop into Boxer's for a refreshment:

Beer for Carbs!

Okay in all honesty it was erin's beer and i quickly vetoed eating here...because frankly I am not a fan of beer in plastic glasses :(

We then made our way down the street to a cute little tapas restaurant. Erin and i had actually always wanted to try this place when we lived here but it was always super busy or closed. So I jumped at the chance to grab a window seat and chow down.
The menu was great! We opted to share some plates including: mussels, calamari, shrimp and a veggie sandwich with goat cheese...YUM! The waiter found out that I was running the marathon the next day and kept sending bread over to the table...

everything was so tasty!

After heading back to Staten Island (we were staying with our friend molly's in laws which was SO nice!) we headed to Aunt Gina's for Halloween Dinner! She had tons of snacks out all afternoon which I didn't hesitate to graze upon.
I finished the night off simple with a nice bowl of pasta...I was ready!