Thursday, August 31, 2017

Happy Hour: Lexington Brewery

We love trying new craft beers which is why we started our Happy Hour, which brings you beer reviews every Thursday. We also love impromptu trips and discovering new places. This week, we're combining all of these loves into one. Last week, we randomly decided to pay a visit to Lexington, MI which is a cute village near us. (We still don't understand why Michigan has towns, cities, townships, villages, etc so please don't ask what a "village" is!)

Our original goal with Lexington was simply to enjoy a walk on a nice day. We took the stroller and parked at one end of the village before heading into the heart of things. On our way, we came up on the Lexington Brewery. We had noticed this place on our other visits to Lexington but this was the first time that we checked it out and we're so glad that we did.

Before we get into the reviews, I'd like to comment on the place itself. This is a small brewery set in a historic building. The owner and brewer were both on site when we visited. The owner was extremely friendly and we carried on a fun conversation about Zelda the moment I walked in the door. The brewer was just as friendly and stopped by our table to answer some questions that we had about the beers and their availability.

With a pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff, we were excited to share a flight of beers and we weren't disappointed. Below you'll find the five beers we tried during our visit. (A flight is four beers but somehow we ended up with an extra due to a mistake. Talk about accommodating!)

American Red Ale

From the menu - "American Red Ale is big, bold and hop forward. The citrusy hops balance the beer's higher alcohol level and specialty malts. The result: a beer flavor sensation. 66 IBU, 7.0% ABV"

This beer is medium to full bodied. To us, it was quite bitter and grainy. The description doesn't fail in describing the hops - it was indeed very hop forward. It's a red with a dry bitter taste afterwards. We recommend having a glass of water on hand! Once you got past the bitterness, there's a sweet overtone with the flavor of a typical red. In my opinion, the finish kills the red, so I can only give this one a 4/10 bottle caps.

Molly Malone Stout
From the menu: "Molly Malone Stout is an American Stout. This beer has a strong roasted flavor and aroma. 73 IBU, 7.2% ABV"

This beer has a full body and tastes like chocolate. It's very smooth and has a velvety mouth feel. There is an absence of hops in this beer. It would be good warm on a cold day - definitely a winter beer to sip on. It almost has a milkiness to it. In addition, there's a sweet aroma to be enjoyed. This has definitely made it among our favorites and deserves a solid 9/10 bottle caps.

Raspberry Apple Cider
From the menu: "Raspberry Apple Cider is an Apple Cider infused with raspberry goodness! 0 IBU, 7.0% ABV"

This is a cider with a definite apple flavor. It has a tart undertone that resembles that of a pear cider. It's crisp but you can still taste the fermenter in parts of it. It's light bodied and very clear. It's not overpoweringly sweet which is what earned it 9/10 bottle caps.

A Pilsner Please
From the menu: "A Pilsner Please is a classic American Pilsner with a clean, crisp, moderately hoppy taste. 35 IBU, 5.3% ABV"

This is the sample that we got by mistake so we don't feel that we can give it an honest review. We don't drink pilsners because they We did feel that this was exactly as expected for a pilsner. It seemed somewhat flavorless compared to the beers we normally select and had a grainy aftertaste. It has a dry finish that left us wanting water. If pilsners are your thing, then we recommend checking it out and letting us know your thoughts!

Sunshiny Day
From the menu: "Sunshiny Day is a lemon and peach flavored American wheat beer, just perfect for the summer. 20 IBU, 5.3% ABV"

The hoppiness in this beer is present but faint. It reminded me of a starburst when I first took a sip. It's light-medium bodied and very fruit. This is the perfect beer for summer. You can taste the citrus and peach in this one when you're drinking it. It has a cool refreshing wash in the mouth and you can't even tell that it was brewed with grains. This one is like a cider with the mildness and texture of a beer. It's definitely one for the back porch on a hot summer day! This one gets a solid 8/10 bottle cap rating.

If you have the time, hop over to the website of the Lexington Brewery and let us know which beer you would sample! Maybe we'll add it to our list for our next visit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Michigan Museum of Natural History

When we move to a new area, one of our favorite things to do is explore and discover hidden gems around us. Our explorations of Michigan have been a bit slower since we bought a house and brought our little boy into the world. We're slowly getting out and doing things (with Baby Fox right alongside us). We're looking forward to sharing these adventures with you in the coming months!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help you find the products that we mention and they help us keep the blog up and running! We make a small portion of the sales from these links.*

It was an overcast day last week when we decided to head south to Ann Arbor. Our original plans for the day were a visit to the Detroit Zoo where we have a membership. The threat of rain made us change our plans though and we decided to check out the Museum of Natural History instead. It seemed like the perfect indoor option for our day.

After a not-so-fun search for parking (hello college town) and a pit stop at Hop Cat, we finally made it to the museum. From the outside, it didn't look like anything too special. It was essentially an older looking building at the end of a typical college classroom building. When we stepped inside, that story changed. The first thing you saw was the gorgeous round ceiling that added quite a bit of character to the place.

The museum was three stories tall and featured many different exhibits, including fossils, dinosaurs, taxidermy animals, and several other cool exhibits. One thing that I love a lot was their use of children's books throughout the museum. We're big fans of reading to kids and it made my heart happy to see that the museum included them throughout the exhibits. In fact, we first learned of the museum through his book, Night Night Michigan.

I honestly wasn't sure how Baby Fox would like the museum when I first suggested it. I figured that since the cost was low (recommended $6 donation which we gave), it was worth a try. It turns out that he loved the museum - especially since several exhibits invited you to interact and touch things.

While Baby Fox was quite intrigued by the sights of the museum, I can't guarantee that it would be suitable for every baby. I do think toddlers and up would enjoy the museum though - there were so many cool things to see! The museum also does a great job of showing and explaining how they find fossils and the process of taxidermy. It truly is a great learning experience for kids of all ages (and that includes adults!).

All in all, I would say the museum was a great choice for an outing! I'm especially glad we chose to go when we did because the museum will be closing down for all of 2018 as they move to a new location. I can't wait to see what the new place looks like in 2019!

Have you been somewhere cool recently? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Five of our Favorite Wines

Typically our Happy Hour posts focus on beer. We thought it would be fun to do something a little different this week and share a few of our favorite wines as well. We like trying new wines just as much as we enjoy trying new beers. Next week, we'll be bringing you our reviews of individual beers and wines as we try them.We can't wait to share our favorite (and not so favorite) drinks with you!

We discovered our love of wine while we were dating. We would go to the local wine store and pick out different ones. We often made our choices based on the labels. We've found some real gems this way.

1. Robert Mondavi - In December of 2015, we headed to Calistoga to celebrate our anniversary (a few months late). On our way, we decided to stop in at a random winery because we had some extra time. We randomly chose the Mondavi winery. The wife had tried their wines before but the winery added a special touch with it's impressive view and quiet atmosphere. It was a great way to start our trip and we quickly added Mondavi's Merlot to our list of go to wines.

2. Ghost Pines - This is our absolute favorite wine. We discovered it while we were dating in Charleston and it quickly became our go to wine. This is one that we definitely picked out based on the label, which is a neat looking tree. Sadly we can't find the Merlot here in Michigan but their other reds are still enjoyable.

3. Pessimist - This is a red wine that we discovered while we were living in California. California had an impressive number of wines to pick from and we were constantly picking new ones. This one, however, is one that we kept coming back to and picked up on numerous occassions.

4. Barefoot Moscato - This wine is a favorite of the wife and some of her friends. It's light and fruity and doesn't last long once it's open because it's such an easy one to drink. You can add it to Sprite for an bubbly spritzer on a hot day.

5. Fetzer - It's important to have at least one cheap wine that you enjoy. This was a random find of ours in California that we've also managed to find here in Michigan. It's much less expensive than some of our other favorites which makes it the perfect wine to use in the husband's mulled wine (recipe coming this winter!).

Are you a wine lover? Which ones would make your list?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ten Craft Beers You Should Try

We first discovered our love of craft beer in Charleston when we started trying new things from local breweries while we were out and about. This love grew in California where we were able to try a a new range of craft and local brews. Today, we're bring you ten of our favorites from the past few years.

1. Founders Rubaeus - This is a raspberry ale from Founders Brewery in Michigan. We first discovered this beer while exploring Lexington, MI and eating at one of our favorite local places. It's a light, fruity blend that's perfect for a hot summer day.

2. Pluff Mudd Porter - This beer from Holy City Brewing is the one that started it all. We discovered this beer in Charleston and it quickly became one of our favorites. It's a dark beer that's full of flavor. It's perfect for sipping slowly with good conversation.

3. Vicious Disposition - This beer is one of the first ones that we reviewed on the blog. It's a porter from Ironifre Brewing in Temecula, CA. This particular beer is brewed with avocado honey, which you can read more about in our post about it.

4. Red, White, & Brew - We discovered this beer while checking out Schooner's Grille and Brewery in Antioch, CA. Schooner's was a restaurant down the street from where the wife worked. Unfortunately, it closed a couple of years ago and I don't think it ever reopened. This particular beer has a unique floral blend that we haven't found anywhere else.

5. Founder's Dirty Bastard - This particular beer is one of my favorites. The wife is not a fan of this particular brew. This is another Founders brew that made our list. This beer is much heavier than the other one we mentioned. In fact, it's a Scotch ale with a strong flavor that people either love or hate.

6. Judgement Day - This particular beer will knock you off your feet. We discovered it during a trip to San Diego. It's made by Lost Abbery Brewery which is based out of Cardiff, CA. It's definitely one that we recommend trying but you should limit how much you try since it can take you by surprise!

7. Shallow Grave - This is a delicious porter from Heretic Brewing (Fairfield, CA) that we discovered on Halloween. We decided to pay a visit to the Hop Grenade in Concord, CA and it was one of the beers that they had on tap. One of the bartenders was dressed as priest for the night and it all seemed to fit together so well. After that, this quickly became a favorite in our household.

8. Anchor Porter - This is a flavorful porter from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. This one was a great choice when we wanted a craft beer that was pretty easy to find in the store. It was also the perfect fallback beer if we didn't like any of the special ones on tap since Anchor Brewing is so well known in the San Francisco area.

9. Downtown Brown - This is a full bodied brown ale from Lost Coast Brewery. I'm not entirely sure when we first discovered this one but I do remember enjoying it during our apartment search in California. We found that it was delicious paired with local pizza.

10. Golden Monkey - You may have noticed that we tend to gravitate towards darker and unique beers. Every now and then, we find a lighter beer that we enjoy as well. Golden Monkey is one example of that. This is a Belgian-style tripel from Victory Brewing with a rather high ABV of 95%. It's definitely a proceed with caution type of beer.

Do you have a favorite craft beer? We'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Artichoke Stuffed Zucchini Boats

We've recently been experimenting with a lot of different things in the kitchen. With little one being sensitive to dairy and soy, we've had to branch away from some of our go to dishes that contained cheese. We've discovered several new favorites though and today, we're sharing one of those with you!

One week, we decided to try artichokes as our vegetable of the week. We came across and experimented with many delicious recipes, but this one was by far our favorite! It's relatively easy, filled with vegetables, and quite filling. This recipe is also vegan friendly and whole 30 compliant (depending on the sauce you pick). Normally stuffed recipes call for cheese but this one leaves out the cheese and you don't even realize it's missing! (Though you can add cheese on top at the end if you really want to.)

We'll start by showing you all of the steps in pictures and at the end of this post, you can find the written version of the recipe! Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees!

Cut the zucchini ends off and then cut them lengthwise. 

Scoop out the insides of the zucchinis and add it to a bowl. 

Rub oil on the inside of the boats. 

 Place the boats on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Place the insides of the zucchini boats in a skillet with a spoonful of coconut oil.

Drain the artichoke hearts and chop them into ribbons.

Add the artichoke hearts to the skillet and saute until the excess liquid is gone.

Return the mixture to the bowl and add marinara sauce, spices, and nutritional yeast.

Spoon the mixture into the boats and return the tray to the oven for 20 minutes.

 Serve the boats hot or cold!

Artichoke Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Total Time: 30 minutes + 10 minutes prep

Kitchen Items Needed: cookie sheet, spoon, bowl, knife

- 4 zucchinis (we're missing one in our pictures!)
- can of artichoke hearts
- marinara sauce (3/4 cup)
- nutritional yeast (3/8 cup)
- Italian spices
- coconut or olive oil 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the ends off of the zucchini. Then cut in half lengthwise.
3. Scoop out the inside of the zucchinis. (Support it with the back of your hand to prevent it from breaking.)
4. Spread oil on the inside of each boat. Place them on a skillet and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Put the insides of the zucchinis in a skillet with a spoonful of coconut oil. Heat on medium heat.
6. Drain the can of artichoke hearts.
7. Cut the artichoke hearts into ribbons and add them to the skillet.
8. Saute the zucchini insides and artichoke hearts until there's no standing water.
9. Add Italian spices of choice.
10. Put the mix back into the bowl and add 3/4 cup of marinara sauce.
11. Add 3/8 cup of nutritional yeast to the bowl and stir well.
12. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats.
13. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve. These boats can be enjoyed hot or cold.

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did! If you give it a try, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Keep your eye for more recipes coming soon!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ten Beers to Consider for Your Next Party

With summer in full swing and a little one that's sleeping better at night, we thought it was time to bring back an old series - Happy Hour. We're going to start off with lists of our favorites and then move into reviewing specific beers and wines.

Today, the focus is on favorite beers that won't break the bank. Next week's post will focus on craft beers that you don't want to miss.

1. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy
This one is perfect for a hot summer evening!

2. Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin'
Lagunitas is based in Petaluma, which isn't far from where we lived in California. We didn't realize how widespread their reach was until we moved to Michigan and found this one on the shelf.

3. Yeungling
This one isn't available everywhere, but if you can find it in a local grocery store, it's well worth a taste! 

4. Shiner Bock
Looking for a darker beer but don't want to splurge on all of the craft options? This one has you covered!

5. Killians Red
Reasonably priced and tasty - enough said!

6. Michelob Amber Bock
This one surprised us. We were at a local steakhouse and they had a beer on the menu named that was basically labeled as "house favorite." We ended up ordering it and liking it. When we inquired for more information, we found out that it was Michelob Amber Bock and we were truly surprised!

7. Angry Orchard
This one isn't technically a beer but it is a favorite when it comes to a lighter drink. It can be a bit sweet for some taste buds. If that's the case, we recommend giving one of their many flavors a try until you find one that you like!

8. Sam Adams Boston Lager
This one is a go to when we can't find anything new to try. It's a classic that can be enjoyed anytime.

9. Not Your Father's Root Beer
I'm not sure if this one qualifies as a true "beer" or not but it is definitely a tasty option. Be careful though - it goes down really easy! Always make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol!

10. Sam Adams Octoberfest
Sam Adams is another one that has a variety of flavors to try. One of our favorites is this seasonal option that's only available in the fall.

Do you have a favorite beer that you'd like for us to try? Share it with us in the comments below!