Friday, April 18, 2014

Drink This: Night Shift Brewing Viva Habanera

Two things I love about living in Somerville/the Boston area: Night Shift beer and The Painted Burro.

Z and I have become regulars at Night Shift's tap room in Everett, and we've more recently discovered the beauty that is The Painted Burro. This Davis Square gem serves up some delicious Mexican food, with reasonable prices and friendly service to boot.

Last weekend, I got to combine both of my local loves at The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off, where I was one of three judges (along with Jen Che of Tiny Urban Kitchen and Jay McKenzie, Somerville firefighter and winner of The Painted Burro’s Burro Churro Challenge). I'm the dorky one in the glasses in the picture below.

The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off
Source: Marlo Marketing/Communications

During the Guac Off, we had to sample 12 different types of guacamole - the competitors really made some interesting guac creations. Some had booze in them, others had fruit, and one had ghost peppers - grown right in the competitor's backyard. They were all really interesting and creative, but the winning guac went to Somerville local Issac Hendrickson (pictured above, with the giant check). Isaac walked away with a $150 gift card to The Painted Burro, as well as the honor of having his recipe for Granada Guacamole with pomegranate seeds featured on the restaurant’s menu.

While I was eating my body weight in guac, I enjoyed one of my favorite brews to order when I'm at The Painted Burro (and Night Shift's brewery): Viva Habanera.

Night Shift Viva Habanera | The Economical Eater

Night Shift's Viva Habanera is just the right combination of sweet and spicy. This rye ale is brewed with agave nectar, which helps to tame down the spice from the habanero peppers that this beer's aged on. The habanero peppers are present in the back of your throat, but not overwhelmingly fiery, which makes this beer easily drinkable and friendly with food. Especially Mexican food - I love ordering a glass of this and sipping it alongside nachos, tacos, and/or guacamole (clearly).

Viva Habanera is available year-round (and at many local liquor stores), but if you go to the brewery, ask to get it combined with Night Shift's Taza Stout. It's like a rich and delicious chocolate-pepper party in your mouth. 

Have you tried any great beers lately? 

The Painted Burro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies

When I was younger, my friend Danyelle made me chocolate whoopie pies for my birthday. They were one of the best desserts I had ever had, and it was all because of her secret ingredient: coffee.

Coffee only enhances chocolate's flavor...especially in baked goods (and iced mochas, in my opinion). So, earlier this week when I was making some homemade chocolate brownies, I decided to add a splash of coffee to the mix. But I didn't just add any coffee: I added a [generous] splash of double espresso vodka.

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies | The Economical Eater

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Yields: 9 large brownies
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet
-10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Splash of espresso vodka (I used Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka)
-2 cold large eggs
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
-2/3 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
-Sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

1.) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper (or tin foil) so the parchment hangs over the sides (this way you can lift the brownies right out). Spray the parchment paper too.
2.) Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heat-proof bowl and place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Stir, watching the butter; if it’s not melting quickly enough, turn up the heat. Keep stirring until the butter’s all melted and you have a paste. Remove the bowl from the pot and allow it to cool slightly.
3.) Stir in the vanilla and vodka with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Add the flour and stir until it disappears, then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Stir in the nuts and spread evenly in your lined pan. Sprinkle the batter with a little bit of sea salt or fleur de sel.
4.) Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out mostly clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack before cutting into nine squares.

[Print this recipe]

Spiked Chocolate Fudge Brownies | The Economical Eater

The alcohol in the vodka bakes off, but the rich coffee flavor sticks around - and definitely helps to enhance the chocolate's flavor like it's supposed to. I loved how fudgy and rich these brownies are, but the sea salt and walnuts definitely helped to cut some of the richness (in a good way).

These would make a fun treat for any Easter gathering, or simply enjoy one (or two) of these with a cup of coffee, a glass of milk, or for an after-dinner treat. Or, if you're really daring, pair it with some double espresso vodka on the rocks. ;)

What's your favorite chocolate dessert?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Brunch Recipes

If your Easter holidays are anything like my family's, that means you do nothing but eat indulgent brunch food and drink mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Sound familiar? Whether it does or not, Easter brunch is one fun tradition.

Here, I'm re-sharing some of my favorite brunch recipes that will add a little extra something delicious to your Easter brunch spread. Whether you're looking to keep things healthy, have a few indulgent (read: lots of cheese) dishes in the mix, or simply want a good Bloody Mary recipe, this post's for you.

(Don't celebrate Easter? There are some vegetarian-friendly Passover recipes at the bottom of this post, too).

10 Vegetarian Easter Brunch Recipes | The Economical Eater

Easter Brunch Recipes:

Vegetarian Passover Recipes:

What are your Easter and/or Passover food traditions?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Random Thursday Things

Today's post is totally random. I have a few fun things to share with you guys, so it's all going in one super random post!

First up, for the local readers: On Sunday, April 13th, I'll be one of the judges at The Painted Burro's 2nd Annual Guac Off. The event begins at 3 p.m., and you can join in on the fun by eating all of the guac that's up for the grand prize: bragging rights, a $150 gift card to The Painted Burro, and the honor of being featured on The Painted Burro’s menu. I hope you can make it!

Second: Have you tried Stonyfield's new Frozen Yogurt Pearls yet? They dropped off a few samples at my house for me to try, and so far, I've had the Peach and Vanilla flavor.

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls | The Economical Eater

Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls | The Economical Eater

The peach "skin" creates an edible protective layer around the vanilla center by harnessing molecular interactions between the skin's ingredients, which are organic fruit and natural ions. Sounds a little scientific, right? Thankfully, the ingredients are mostly legible, with a few unfortunate exceptions (i.e., sodium alginate and sodium citrate, to name a few). 

The skin is melt-free, which made this little treat that much more enjoyable on a [finally!] warmer day. The vanilla center was fantastic with the peach flavor, but I did find it hard for my sensitive teeth to bite into this frozen pearl. (My hands were also stinging a bit from holding the frozen pearl, but you don't necessarily have to eat these as cold as I did). I do see these being a quick, low-calorie treat on a hot day (two of peach/vanilla pearls = 50 calories) - I just wish the ingredients in the skin were all familiar/natural. 

And, finally, we have a winner for my Birds Eye frozen veggies giveaway! The winner was chosen using

And the winner is...

Mike Gurney!

"Definitely would use the steamed veggies for a soup!"

Congrats, Mike! Please email me within 48 hours to claim your prize.

Anything random you feel like sharing today?

The Yogurt Pearls were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

This was one recipe experiment that turned out so, so well.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

I made these Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas for a catering client this week, and...I have to was kind of an experiment. I had visions of having to tell him his food would be a day late, and I would have to start all over again. But, thankfully, I didn't have to do any of that - the first batch came out borderline perfect. (I love when that happens!).

Chock-full of tender sweet potatoes, sweet corn, and hearty black beans, these "meaty" enchiladas are satiating - and delicious. The spice from the salsa verde, chili powder, and cayenne give each bite a ton of flavor, without being over-the-top spicy. 

Make these. Please.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
Yields: 9 enchiladas (about 3-4 servings)
Inspired by Damn Delicious
-2 cups salsa verde, divided
-2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
-1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-3/4 cup frozen corn
-1 clove garlic, minced
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-Pinch of cayenne
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
-9 flour tortillas, warmed
-1 Roma tomato, diced
-Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 cup salsa verde in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish; set aside.
2.) In a large pot of boiling water, cook sweet potatoes until tender, about 12-15 minutes; drain well and let cool slightly.
3.) In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, black beans, jalapenos, red onion, corn, garlic, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and spices.
4.) To assemble the enchiladas, lay tortilla on a flat surface and spoon a heaping 1/4 cup of sweet potato mixture in the center; sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down onto prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sweet potato mixture. Top with remaining salsa verde and cheese.*
5.) Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
6.) Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro and chopped tomato. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

*Please note that you will probably have leftover filling; I cooked a few additional "test" enchiladas with the remaining filling, but it wasn't really enough to make three more enchiladas with. I highly recommend spooning the extra filling into the baking dish with the enchiladas, or simply having it on top of your eggs the next morning (or in your salad for lunch the next day).

[Print this recipe]

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas | The Economical Eater

Melted cheese. And lots of it. Do I really need to give you another reason to make these enchiladas, like, now?

I didn't think so. ;)

P.S. Just a friendly reminder that today's the last day to enter my Birds Eye giveaway for some FREE frozen vegetables! I'll be announcing a winner tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 7, 2014

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas (+ a Giveaway!)

Happy Monday to you!

Let's start the week off with a tasty recipe and a giveaway, shall we?

The folks at Birds Eye approached me a few weeks ago regarding their new campaign - in conjunction with Disney - to get kids to eat more vegetables. In celebration of their Step Up to the Plate program, Birds Eye asked me to come up with a kid-friendly, vegetable-packed recipe.

And, what food do most kids love? Pizza. So, I created a cheesy, delicious pizza that successfully makes all of the green vegetables on top of it not seem so...kid-unfriendly.

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas | The Economical Eater

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas
Yields: 1 pizza (about 4 servings)
-1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 clove garlic, minced
-6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
-9 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in half
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-Salt and black pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.) Brush crust with olive oil and garlic; top with shredded mozzarella cheese. 
3.) In a small bowl, mix asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Top mozzarella layer with asparagus spears and peas. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a little bit of salt and pepper.
4.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. 

[Print this recipe]

White Pizza with Asparagus and Peas | The Economical Eater

This perfect-for-spring pizza was packed with flavor thanks to the peas, asparagus, garlic oil, and cheeses. If I fed this pizza to my nieces and nephew, they wouldn't even notice the "green stuff" on top (especially after they took their first bite!).

Now, how about that giveaway? Birds Eye wants to challenge you, too, to step up to the plate and create your own healthy and kid-friendly veggie dishes. In order to help with that, Birds Eye is giving one lucky EE reader FIVE coupons for free Birds Eye products! To enter, simply leave a comment on this post saying what dish you'd make with these coupons. I'll pick a winner Thursday, 4/10 morning.

Good luck!

I received the same five coupons in order to create my kid-friendly recipe. All opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wines Around $10

Happy Friday! Let's talk [cheap] wine, shall we?

Wines around $10 | The Economical EaterWines around $10 | The Economical Eater

I went to another class at the Boston Wine School last week (read my recap of the last one here), but this time, it was all about Favorite Wines Around $10. And good wines at that!

Jonathon Alsop, who owns the wine school and teaches all of the classes, taught us a lot about how to find affordable wines - as well as what makes a wine affordable. Some fun facts/tips we learned that night include:

-The color of the label helps to determine the wine's price. For instance, brightly colored labels (pink, blue, etc.) make the wine cheaper, while more "sophisticated" colors (like black, for instance) can make the wine more expensive.

-A stained or torn label can take 50% off the price of the wine. Shop distressed!

-White wines and pink wines feature more bargains.

-Shop for wines made in Chile, Portugal, Greece, Spain, and South Africa.

-Go for grapes you've never heard of - they tend to be less expensive.

Now, onto the wines! Here are some tasty, affordable wines you should be pouring into a cup this weekend:

2012 Adega de Pegoes, blend of Fernao Pires, Moscatel, and Arinto (Setubal, central Portugal)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This wine - which retails at about $7.99 - was slightly sweet, acidic, and quite dry. For those who love their wines on the drier side, this one's for you.

2012 Cline Viognier (North Coast, California)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

I tend to really enjoy viogniers, and this one was no different. It was actually one of my favorite wines of the night! This bottle usually retails for about $8.99-$9.99, and had great floral and fruity notes (think peaches and pears). The mouthfeel was nicely dry and sweet, without being overpowering in either department. 

2012 J. Lohr "Wildflower" Valdiguie (Monterey, California)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This red wine boasted a lot of raspberry and cherry flavors, while the nose featured plums, chocolate, and more cherries. The color of this wine was also noteworthy - it was a beautiful, vibrant magenta. (Hey, you drink with your eyes first, right?).

2012 Tenuta Rapitala Nero d'Avola (Sicily)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

The smell of this wine was a little acerbic for my liking - it boasted lots of pepper and spice. The taste and smell was borderline sour, too. I wouldn't say it was a bad wine; it was just a little too strong for my liking. However, if you like the more spicy wines (vs. sweet), this could be a decent option for you.

2011 Tilia Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

This was another one of my favorite wines of the night. Reminiscent of a malbec, this slightly tart wine featured lots of tannins, a pleasant spicy nose, and lots of fruit flavor. It paired very well with cheese, too!

2011 Chateau Roustaing (Bordeaux, France)

Wines around $10 | The Economical Eater

Our final wine of the night was this drinkable red wine, that usually retails around $10.99. The nose was less harsh then the red wines we tried before it, and the taste was fruity and ideally sweet. Personally, I thought this tasted a little stronger (alcohol-wise) than the others, but I think this wine could stand up well to food - such as steak, cheeses, and pasta with red sauce, to name a few.

[Side note: We started the night with a glass of NV 90+ Cellars "Lot 50" Prosecco (Veneto, Italy), which typically clocks in around $10.99. 90+ Cellars is located right above the Boston Wine School].

Overall, I learned a lot from this class, and will be seeking out quite a few of the wines we tried in my local wine store. I tend to buy the same wines all of the time, so it was great discovering some new-to-me wines - at prices I'd actually be happy to pay. 

What's your favorite affordable wine? I'm a big fan of the Apothic wines.

This class was complimentary. All opinions are my own.