Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Repeat the sounding joy...

If you know me, it's no secret that I am a fan of Christmas music. In fact, I own 516 "holiday" songs. 516?!? I was a little taken back when I realized it, then of course I rejoiced into song. After all, tis the season to be jolly. So don your gay apparel and join me for a caroling good time with 15 of my all time favorite Christmas songs.

Brenda lee-rocking around the christmas tree  You know for me, it's just not Christmas with out this song ringing it in. Brenda Lee has lots of great Christmas songs, but this one is pretty cheerful. 

Elvis Presley-blue christmas I picked this because it is unmistakably Elvis. Such a great voice for such a great song. 

Frank Sinatra- the christmas waltz This isn't the average popular song but with its classic waltz timing and Frank's glorious voice it had to make the cut. 

Whitney Houston- joy to the world Whitney takes this song to church. She sings this song backed with a choir and it makes you want to get out of your seat and sing and dance right along with her. 

Stevie wonder- what christmas means to me I've always adored this song. It is packed with all things that Christmas mean to me, candles, pretty lights, snow, love, it has it all!

Andy Williams- it's the most wonderful time of the year If I had numbered these in any order, this song would be number one hands down. It has this big band sound that welcomes in the holiday cheer and sings all about the "happiest season of all". Plus you get Andy Williams who had 3 platinum albums and a voice that makes snow shine. 

Mariah Carey- all I want for Christmas is you This song rings famous for me since middle school. In 8th grade for a Christmas assembly me and 4 of my friends danced to this song in front of the entire school. I think I fall in love with this song more and more every year. 

The Chipmunks-the chipmunk song (christmas don't be late) I think this requires no explanation. Any song that includes chipmunks singing about Christmas is a win for me. Oh Alvin. 

Ella fitzgerald-frosty the snowman This song always makes me thinks of the claymation movie. Ella does it the best, now if we could just get a white christmas...

Sarah Mclachlan-I'll be home for christmas Sarah does a great job with this song. It's somber melody and her airy voice add a yearning to the song that takes it too a whole new level. 

Otis redding- merry christmas, baby Otis will always hold a special place in my heart. He sings with so much heart and soul. This song has just enough funk and jingle bells to find the perfect balance of motown and Christmas. 
CeeLo green-This christmas This Christmas is definitely one of my favorite songs by any artist that sings it. I think Chris Brown actually does a really good job with it too, such a slow start and dramatic build up in his version. However, CeeLo takes the fudge. He has magically blended classic sounds with his upbeat spin on it. 

Coldplay/Chris Martin-have yourself a merry little christmas Please don't get me wrong Judy Garland makes me cry almost every time I hear her sing this song. I just fell in love when I heard Chris Martin sing this song. His voice adds a melancholy simplicity to the piano that accompanies him. 

Michael Buble- christmas (baby please come home) Since I couldn't have all 15 songs be Buble (the man does no wrong), I decided to pick this one. Maybe because I pretend he is singing to me and together he and I deck the halls? His velvety tenor-ness is the perfect match for this timeless song. 

Dean martin- baby it's cold outside Gosh this song is so fun. I love ALL the versions of it, especially when Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell sing it in Elf, so I had to go back to basics and pick a Rat Pack member for this song. Sometimes an old favorite is a favorite for a reason. 

*just missed the list* Kelly Clarkson-my grown up christmas list The lyrics of this song are so cheesy but admittedly have made me cry before. All she wants is everyone to have a friend and right would always win and love would never end, what is more perfect than that? 

It's funny to me after years of singing these tunes you don't realize how odd/interesting/dated some of the lyrics are. How in the world did the ox and lamb keep time for that little drummer boy? Frank may say it best in "mistletoe and holly", "overeating, merry greetings from relatives you don't know". I feel sorry (or excited) for Little Will who in "up on the housetop" gets in his stocking, tacks, a ball and a "whip that cracks". Yet year after year I sing these with cheer, I can't help but love it. Christmas music for me is like an old friend I'll never forget, but maybe I'm ok with visiting them only once a year. I hope this holiday season is treating you well. Use it as an excuse to hug a little longer and squeeze a little tighter, cherish what you have and the loved ones who surround you. Merry Christmas, baby.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Girls Guide to Drinking Beer

I by no means am a know it all when it comes to the world of ales and lagers. I remember the days when I thought getting a 6 pack of Smirnoff ice raspberry was the best way to get the party started. 249 calories later and no buzz achieved I realized...something's gotta give. That's when I discovered beer! I found out It's not all bland miller high life or bud light (no offense), there is such a plethora of beers it's hard not to find something you'll love. So ladies, I did some of the leg work for you to help you maneuver through beer-drinking, because let's face it, we aren't all cut out for the super hoppy, pale-aley, extra dark beer that can be intimidating at times. Join me?

First, let's get straight to the good stuff. Lets navigate through my top 5 favorite picks:

Top 5 favorite beers:

MillerCoors Blue moon- This beer will always be a favorite for me because it's the first beer I actually fell in love with. I used to drink this beer in between classes in college (sorry mom, it's true) and it was always perfect in a pint glass with an orange slice. Now during a family vacation I tried to serve it to my Uncle Tom this way and he claimed it was "good" but he didn't need all the "frills". Girls, this beer is crisp, fresh and light...need I say more? It's perfect with a slice of orange to brighten the flavors and add that little tangy sweetness I love, or you can have it Uncle Tom's way, without the "frills". 

COOP Oktoberfest (not pictured due to the fact that they have been busy canning the amazing F5 and didn't make it this fall)- I fell in love with this beer last year while at the Plaza arts festival enjoying some food at the Mule and saw that they had a special on Oktoberfest. I am girl who likes a bargain and a good beer, so it was a win/win. I am lucky that I happen to be friends with the Head Brewer at COOP Brewery and was able to pick his brain about this beer I loved so much. The Head Brewer, Blake Jarloim, told me that Oktoberfest was created to be apart of Choctaw's large annual festival, since one of the COOP founders was a city planner for Choctaw. I learned that this beer is the only lager that COOP creates and sadly is only available around late August till early November every year. For me this beer has everything! Flavor complexity, smoothness, medium body and a perfect beer to sip on with good food (good job Mule!)   . 

Lindeman's Framboise- Did you know framboise in French means "raspberry"? This beer is so sweet and delicate in flavor. When you sip it it sparkling-ness dances on your tongue. It makes me feel girlie when I drink it, probably like Molly Ringwald did when she saw Jake Ryan for the first time. If you live in or near Oklahoma City, go to McNellies (my favorite pub) and order the raspberry cream. It's a mix of Blanche de Bruxelles and raspberry frambroise and it's like a creamy dessert in a pint glass, so very lovely.

Sam Smith Apricot- Now this my friends is a beer the Brits got right. Pyramid apricot beer gives Sam Smith a run for the money but I think in the end Sam always wins. Being unfiltered gives this beer such a creaminess that is very welcomed. Apricot is such an interesting choice, it's a sweet fruit that blends perfectly in the beer and has a balanced flavor. This handcrafted beer comes in pint bottles and is organic, which might be why its a little more pricey. For me, this is my birthday beer, because when we go out for my birthday this is beer I make people buy me, I like to think on my birthday I am worth the price. 

Leinenkugel Lemon Berry Shandy- This Chippewa Falls beer may be last on my list, but it does not disappoint. Let me set up a scene for you, I'm outside on a cool Colorado evening, I can hear the rushing of a nearby river, I can smell the sweet scent of a cigar my uncle is smoking, my cousin is telling a story about Chicago that makes us all laugh cheerfully and amidst all the wonderful commotion my aunt hands me an ice cold beer. It is one I never had before and I see that it has fruit in the title (I don't know if you noticed, but I have a thing for fruit style beers) so I figure it's a can't miss. So I take a sip. And it happens, a true flavor explosion, the lemon notes are so tart and sweet and immediately balanced by blackberry flavors and the perfume-y taste of raspberries. I was instantly in love with this tangy beer that tasted like it had a splash of fresh lemonade in it. A perfect beer that is so refreshing and simply just easy to drink. 

Now that you know what my go-to beer choices are, let's talk about beers that just missed the top 5 cut but are on the back burner waiting to boil. Not every moment calls for the perfect fruit infused beer or a full flavored fall lager. Sometimes you need something you can sip on all night and enjoy slowly, or perhaps a beer you can pop open an pour into many solo cups to share with others. These are the beers I picked for those moments. I did us all a favor and didn't leave a stone unturned, researching for hours on end to make sure these choices thought out and fine tuned. 

5 beers for 5 occasions:

Favorite drinking game beer- Lionshead. This is less about flavor and more about drinkability. It's a great Pennsylvania pilsner for a night of flip cup. It's friendly on the wallet and light on the tongue. Something you may not have known? This bottled bargain beer was the choice of Dwight Schrute from the office. 


A beer to get you tipsy- DNR. This beer is full of heart and soul. Thanks to my friend Blake, he gave me a fun fact that this COOP Belgian ale contains 25lbs of candy sugar in every batch. Maybe thats why it melts into your taste buds like caramel. The beer packs a punch and can be sipped on slow like a nice merlot. It is 10% alcohol by volume and comes in a pint size bottle. Ladies it's dark and strong, but I promise it gets the job done, and it does so with elegance and flavor lasting long after the sip. 

Something to sip on- Happy Camper. I have a suggestion. If you are trying a beer for the first time that might be out of your comfort zone. Don't drink it out of the bottle/can. There is something that opens up the flavors when you put the beer in a nice cold pint glass. It's like not judging a book by its cover. Maybe you wary of something a little hoppier. Pour it into a glass so you forget its hoppy time and I think it gives you a fighting chance to try something new and might actually enjoy it. Trick your mind and let your mouth make the decisions for you, not your eyes.

Low calorie choice- Coors Light. This 102 calorie silver bullet is best served not just cold, but super cold as indicated in blue on their can. I love on a hot day when you think you can't get any hotter and you just pop open a "super cold" can of coors light and drink it down. It's honestly so refreshing and doesn't mess up your waist line like others might. Coors light offers a super cold draft,  this tab has an independent cooling system that keeps the beer colder than cold, I know this to be true when I tried it on tour at the Coors Brewery in Colorado. There is something about having this beer ice cold that makes it all the better. Now sure, there is Miller Genuine Draft that is 64 calories and Budweiser Select that comes in a 55 calorie option, but I've done the research and they just don't cut the mustard. Coors light is a great calorie compromise, just do a few squats while drinking it to make up for the extra calories and your tongue will thank you later. 

Ballin' on a budget-For this category I have chosen Pabst Blue Ribbon. The perfect choice when wanting to look hip and to do so on a budget. The yeast in this lager is aged at high gravity adding robust flavor and smoothness to the finish. This beer is not only pleasant to drink but doesn't break your wallet either. For example, at an Oklahoma City bar, The Drunken Fry, you can get a PBR and a shot for just $5, what a deal! 

I have to admit to you that I started writing this blog about 11 months ago. You may have noticed that already with my hair at such different lengths. In fact, I was working on this for the first time while out for my friend Aubra's birthday last January. Her husband, Colby, caught me being on my phone more than usual and asked what I was up to. I filled him in and he asked if he could read it. Once he read it he simply laughed and said "genius". Throughout the night if Colby caught me on my phone he would ask me what part I was working on and I'd read him a preview with his response always being a smile or a laugh. Colby passed away in July this year, and since his support offered me endless encouragement, it just didn't feel right to post this blog without honoring his greatness. I will always have such fond memories of Colby, including the night out celebrating his wife and sharing beers as well as beer facts and flavors. I always felt that Colby supported my creativity, any food or cocktail I thought up and brought to a gathering he was the first to try and usually the first to tell me how awesome it was. His sense of humor was first class and his smile could warm even the coldest of hearts. A moment with Colby was never dull and from him I learned what a sincere friendship filled with kindness and sharing was really like. There are moments that I feel like his death wasn't real and I'll see him at the next game night or dinner party and the truth is his spirit and cheer is still with us all. We are all better, happier and more joyful for having known Colby Sartin. I'm finally posting this blog, and I know Colby is looking down and laughing with me. Cheers dear friend, this one's for you. TTYL

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pumpkin Granola

I have always felt that fall and spring are such loved seasons because they are so fleeting, especially here in Oklahoma. Fall makes me want spiced ciders, cinnamon rolls and all things pumpkin! Pumpkin is such an amazing flavor that seems like you can add it to anything and it makes it better; muffins, ice cream, cookies and even granola. Last fall I created a pumpkin granola recipe and made SO many batches and gave it out as gifts all throughout fall. Not to toot my own horn,  but it seemed like everyone I gave it to wanted the recipe...and now a year later I am finally getting my act together to reveal it. So thank you, for your patience and kindness I hope you enjoy!

Take note, there are lots of ingredients, but I think thats what makes granola granola, it got a little bit of everything baked into one. So to start you will want a large bowl and in that add your oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond slivers, brown sugar and seasonings. Mix it well to make sure the oats get coated with your spices. 

In a small saucepan warm your "wet" ingredients and mix until well combined.  

Then spread out onto a large baking sheet and bake at 300 for 30 minutes stirring well every 10 minutes. I tend to like more crunchy or dry granola so I sometimes bake it a little longer. However, if you like your granola a little more chewy or softer then feel free to bake it for a shorter amount of time. 

Once your granola is baked to your idea of perfection take it out and let it cool. When it is cool enough to handle place it in a bowl and toss it with the dried apricots and powdered sugar. I love this step because it gives it this light finishing sweetness. 

As labor day weekend is upon us I can't help but get a bubbling of excitement for all things fall. I hope you find the time this fall to make this pumpkin granola, I'd like to bet you won't regret it. Especially if you put it on top of ice cream. As always, there is a 4x6 recipe card for you to print out if you want one. Until next time friends, indulge.