Oct 29 2014

Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios

Each month I search the Internet for a new recipe to highlight for a wellness website I support. It’s always a challenge to find something that meets the needs of a diverse audience – vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian, raw, gluten free, etc. – I try to really vary my selections from month to month.

I was asked this question the other day – Have you tried all of the monthly recipes you post? Sadly my answer was “no” – not  that I haven’t wanted to, I just have others that interest me more. I do pay attention to reviews though. Picking recipes to satisfy the masses is much more difficult than me posting about recipes that peek my own personal interest and since I own and operate this website, it’s all about what I like… me… me… me…

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In my latest November search, I stumbled upon this gem from EatingWell.com – Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios. I knew immediately that I wanted to try this myself. I ended up picking a turkey recipe for the wellness website because the last couple of recipes I chose were vegetarian and lots of people have an abundance of turkey around the holidays.

Speaking of turkey and the main holiday that seems to include that – THANKSGIVING. This is the beginning of my favorite time of  the year. From Halloween to Christmas – bring on the fall weather, the more savory dishes and party snacks/appetizers galore. It’s also the time where I usually increase my workouts :).

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Heaping Tablespoons Honey Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 2 Bosc Pears
  • 2 Ounces Brie Cheese – Cut into 4 slices
  • 4 Teaspoons Chopped Pistachios – Toasted

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I preheated my oven and got to work prepping ingredients…

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Use a non-stick baking sheet or a metal pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk honey mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core with a melon baller and slice a small piece off the other side of the pear so they will lie flat when cooking/serving.
  4. Brush each pear with the honey mustard glaze and place cored-side down on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the pears for 25-30 minutes, basting halfway through with the glaze. Gently turn them over, baste again and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 teaspoon toasted pistachios and more salt and pepper if needed and serve.

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I cut my pears in half and thankfully I had picked some good ones. How do you know if they are ripe? Apply gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat. Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so that they can ripen. 

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I put my melon baller to work and prepped all 4 halves.

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I gave them a generous coating of the honey mustard glaze and popped them into the oven face down.

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I started to toast my pistachios during the first 15 minutes of cook time.

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I bought a cheater bag so I didn’t have to shell them myself. I used pistachios that were already salted.

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I roughed chopped them and placed them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.

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I actually used a scale and measured out my cheese – I’ve never really been one to pay attention to “ounces” when it comes to cheese, but Brie is really rich and I didn’t want to go to overboard. Not even sure it’s possible to go overboard with any cheese, ha-ha. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. I was also trying to avoid a molten lava cheese lake on my favorite baking sheet.

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I popped the pears back into the oven and made one adjustment – I did end up pulling off the rind with tongs after it melted. I didn’t like the way it looked and sometimes the rind can be a little bitter and I wasn’t looking for that in this recipe.

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They looked like potatoes when they were done – Hmmm…. there’s a thought. I ended up adding a little sea salt and pepper to the finished pears – next time I’d also like to drizzle a little of the honey mustard glaze on top. They were delicious, but I think the glaze would help counteract the sweetness a bit. They would be a great starter course or side dish to roasted pork or lamb. They would also be a good dessert for those that prefer savory desserts over super sweet because this combined both. I’m guessing you could really experiment with different glazes as well. A pomegranate glaze would also be fabulous.

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if you are looking for a different starter course of side dish for Thanksgiving, I think this would fit the bill.

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I will definitely make these or a variation again. What’s a side dish you can’t compromise on for Thanksgiving? No matter what, it WILL be on your table… For me it’s my Aunt’s cranberry relish.
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Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios
Roasted Bosc pears with Brie and toasted pistachios. Delicious as a first course or a side dish.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Heaping Tablespoons Honey Mustard
  2. 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  4. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  6. 2 Bosc Pears
  7. 2 Ounces Brie Cheese - Cut into 4 slices
  8. 4 Teaspoons Chopped Pistachios - Toasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Use a non-stick baking sheet or a metal pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk honey mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core with a melon baller and slice a small piece off the other side of the pear so they will lie flat when cooking/served.
  4. Brush each pear with the honey mustard glaze and place cored-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake the pears for 25-30 minutes, basting halfway through with the glaze. Gently turn them over, baste again and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear.
  6. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 teaspoon toasted pistachios, salt and pepper and serve.
Notes
  1. Optional - Remove the Brie rind if you want to and add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle some of the glaze on top before serving.
Adapted from EatingWell.com
Adapted from EatingWell.com
Foodiddy http://foodiddy.com/

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Oct 13 2014

Sactoberfest Sunday

I feel very fortunate that I got to taste the delicious foods at the Sactoberfest preview event at Ten22, because Sunday’s Sactoberfest didn’t turn out as planned. The wind chose not to cooperate and combined with the dust made for unfavorable conditions for the food vendors. Unfortunately some had to pull out of the event because of it. We didn’t let that stop us from having a good time and the same goes for many others attending on Sunday.

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Bright white tent tops became beige in color due to the dust storms that kept blowing through. We headed directly to the beer tents to fill up our steins.

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Thug life beer servers… ha-ha. They had to endure some rather miserable conditions and they made the best of it. All day long we encountered very friendly event staff. Their main concern was that everyone was having a good time. The beer and cider helped.

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We checked out the food vendors next – this is when we found out that some had to pack up. Broderick was able to open with a very limited menu – they served Bratworst or Bockworst with fries.

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The German Deli had some menu items available too.

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We decided to start with a fresh baked pretzel with beer cheese sauce. We grabbed one and then made our way to the main tent to get out of the wind and dust. I tried to ignore the fact that there was a layer of dust on the inside of my beer mug. After one beer it didn’t seem to matter.

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Event staff announced that they were going to open the VIP tent to all attendees that wanted to get out of the elements. The VIP tent had walls and couches for families to chill out. It also had a full bar and they were selling $5 Jäger shots and $6 Jäger bombs.

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We checked it out, but ultimately decided we liked to be in the main tent with the band. First up was the Internationals. They welcomed us to the “Sactoberfest Dust Storm” – that made everyone laugh and they kept it pretty light throughout their performance. I’m sure the beer and Jäger shots made things easier for them. :)

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Next up was the Alpen Tanz Kapelle Band and the Nature Friends Schuhplattler Dancers. Until that point the dance floor was empty. It was covered in dirt/dust and they were concerned about that. The beer maidens in their dirndls jumped into action.

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 They all joined together and wiped down the dance floor to prep it for the dancers.

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All of these girls never stopped smiling. They were tired after two very busy days and they still managed to have a good time dealing with the situation. Several of them sat down at our table to talk about the different beer options and to visit with attendees.

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Once the floor was cleared and had dried,  the dancers put on a show. While watching them we were approached by event staff to fill out a survey. She offered us beer tickets, but because we’d already consumed giant steins full on very little food, we opted to just take the surveys. I thought it was important to let them know that event goers like us, really appreciated the staff’s efforts to not let the weather situation take away from the event.

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The gal came back to collect our surveys and she gave us two food tokens. Super sweet and perfect timing. I was starving.

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I got in line while Dan saved our seats. I wanted to take some more photos and it was the perfect opportunity to do that. I ended up getting us a second pretzel and a beer brat with sweet mustard. The line started backing up because the pilot lights kept blowing out due to the wind. The workers started handing out pretzels to people waiting in line.

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The brat was delicious and hit the spot. The 21 piece Chico Bavarian Band took to the stage next. The gal next to us was primed and ready for the Chicken Dance – she had the chicken hat and everything. We stayed for a bit and then decided to brave the elements to check out the carnival side of the event.

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I thought it was cool to see part of the Sac City skyline in the background. West Sacramento’s Bridge District is a really cool place and I look forward to all the upcoming improvements. The urban plan calls for three bridges to cross the Sacramento River. I’m also really looking forward to the Barn – projected to open in Spring 2015.

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Flying Bobs with the Tower Bridge in the background…

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Homer/Radioactive Man just hangin’ out…. Carnivals freak me out as an adult, but man did I love them as a kid. There was the county fair and local church carnivals and we even had carnival rides on our high school campus for grad night, it was awesome.

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Sactoberfest was a great close to a wonderful weekend – Prost!

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Oct 01 2014

Sactoberfest Preview Event

I was invited to join fellow bloggers and media professionals Monday, September 29 for a special evening Sactoberfest preview at Ten22 in Old Sacramento.

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This event gave us a glimpse into what will make Sacramento’s big Sactoberfest celebration so unique.

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This was my first time at the restaurant, it’s been on my list to try, we’ve just never made it there. Ten22 prides itself in award winning cuisine and superior quality brews. Executive Chef and Central Valley native, Jay Veregge, offers a “New American” menu featuring locally sourced ingredients from regional farmers.

We had a special menu for the preview event, representing some of the foods that would be served at Sactoberfest. I look forward to going back to experience other dishes from their main menu.

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Guests were greeted by Emilie from 3fold Communications and Finrich Events staff.  Rich Clakeley, CEO of Finrich Events and his awesome bier maidens were some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met at a blogger/media event. Very genuine people that are passionate about what they do. I could tell that the success of this event and putting Sacramento on the “Oktoberfest” map is very important to Rich and crew. It was a treat to listen to Rich talk about the history behind Oktoberfest and the traditions that go along with it.

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I started the evening with a sampling of Bike Dog Brewing Co. Pale Ale from West Sacramento. I’m very far from being a regular beer drinker/aficionado, but I do enjoy an occasional light bodied pale ale and Bike Dog delivered – it ended up being my second local favorite of the evening.

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Ten22’s Chef Dennis Sydnor presented our amazing food on behalf of  Chef Jay Veregge and Jeneca Kretchman, working with Finrich Events, shared her food and beer pairing knowledge with the group.

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First up was Jägerschnitzel – Thin slices of pan fried, breaded pork loin with sautéed mushrooms and cream sauce. Let’s just say if I was home, I would have licked the plate. The beer pairing included my favorite of the evening – Jack Rabbit Brewing Hefeweizen of West Sacramento – A traditional wheat beer with a very mild wheat flavor.

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Ten 22 is not the only local restaurant participating in Sactoberfest. Local eateries, Fabulous Frickle Brothers, Broderick Roadhouse, The German Deli and more… will also be contributing German foods to the event.

O.k., let’s talk food photography.  I’m still in my full leg brace and I didn’t want to lug camera equipment with me, so I ended up just throwing my Canon in my purse, not realizing it still had my 60mm lens attached, whoops. So I only used my iPhone for the evening and THANKFULLY Sarah from CapCity Moms was there, because she’s a professional photographer and I’m sure her photos will be fabulous – so make sure you check out Sarah and Jill’s evening re-cap for good food porn once it’s up on their site. They are also hosting a ticket giveaway over there – so jump on that.

The evening took place in a very YELLOW, dimly lit room and she let me share her external light source with her. These dishes were works of art in person – not so much here in all of their iPhone glory. Squint and pretend my friends, squint and pretend. Thanks for lighting the way Sarah, they would be way worse without your glow.

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Rustic Cabbage Rolls – Brown rice and roasted root vegetables (carrots, celery and parsnips) with a cinnamon tomato sauce. Our beer pairing was Erdinger Weissbier of Erding, Germany. I often forget about stuffed cabbage as a meatless alternative, these were excellent.

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We were not only spoiled with food and bier flights all evening – we got to try our hand at some of the many games to be featured at the October 10-12 Sactoberfest event. Stein holding and beer pong.

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Sarah asked Jill to give her a scary face – LOL… they are both fabulous! The stein was heavy after 20 seconds.

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Arms were a shakin’, including mine. Thanks for taking my photo 3fold.

Sactoberfest preview event food

The food kept appearing and our taste buds were up for the adventure.

Braised Pork Belly (our special treat of the night – unfortunately not included in the Sactoberfest event) – Braised pork belly on a yam cake with an onion marmalade. The onions were so good that we cornered Chef Dennis to get the low down on ingredients. Simple… red onion, red zinfandel, garlic and low and slow cooking instructions. While a fat source wasn’t mentioned, we agreed butter or olive oil would be a necessity. I think he was holding out on us.

Our conversation went from onion jam to pickling very quickly and next thing you know, Chef Dennis was running into the kitchen to spoil us with his Sacramento Burger Battle pickles. He explained that he went pickle crazy for the battle – calling up his source ordering more and more pickling cucumbers. We’re glad he did, because the pickles on the Braised Beef Rouladen were some of the best pickles I’ve ever tasted. The sweet to heat ratio was something I plan to recreate in my own kitchen.

The Braised Pork Belly was paired with Yolo Brewing Co. Nutty Brown Ale of West Sacramento. The Braised Beef Rouladen was tender slices of beef rolled with German mustard and pickles and the dish was paired with Bike Dog Brewing Co. Pale Ale. It was handy that I already had some, the glass situation was growing.

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Another star dish of the evening for me was the Beer Braised Thürsinger. The sausage was handmade from Morant’s Old Fashion Sausage Kitchen on Franklin Blvd. Served on rye toast with sauerkraut and German mustard. I may or may not have had 4 of them. The pairing for this dish was Spaten Oktoberfestbier from Munich, Germany.

The event will showcase smoked bratwurst, chicken apple sausage and beer brats from Morent’s. The beer brats will be braised in beer with sliced onions and spices. The sausage is then grilled to order before being dunked in a rich beer and onion broth, served on a fresh baked bun from Pure Grain Bakery of Vacaville. A broth with caramelized onions is then ladled over the top – similar to a French dip – sign me up!

7″ Bavarian pretzels will also be served fresh from the oven.

Fried pickles and fried green tomatoes with dipping sauces will be available from the Fabulous Frickle Brothers.

I’m really looking forward to trying the Spaetzle Mac n’ Cheese featuring a bier cheese sauce from Broderick Roadhouse and Capital Dime’s Chris Jarosz.

Dessert for the evening was Dark Chocolate Rum Balls paired with Sudwerk 3 Best Friends Doppel Bock from Davis. The German Deli will be providing the decadent chocolate rum balls and streudle at Sactoberfest.

2014_Sactoberfest_Logo2Taking over the West Sacramento’s Bridge District, Sactoberfest will draw inspiration from the original German Okotoberfest with its own unique twist. Revelers will hoist steins of authentic Oktoberfest premium biers from Spaten, Erdinger, Hofbrau and Franzikaner as well as local craft beers from Sudwerk, Yolo, Bike Dog and Jackrabbit with National favorites from Samuel Adams and Omission – all served by waitresses dressed in dirndl outfits under the massive bier tent covering 20,000 square feet.

Festival goers can listen to the many bands,  try their hand at stein holding, keg rolling, beer pong, wurst tossing, corn hole and more. If those types of games aren’t your thing – New to Sactoberfest this year is a full carnival – complete with more than 16 rides. So grab your friends and family and join in the fun.

 

Part of the preview included 2 premium tickets – Dan and I plan to attend, we’d love to see you there. If you plan to go, let us know and we can hangout.

The time honored tradition of tapping the first keg will start the festivities on Friday, October 10 at 3:00 p.m. This will be followed by a parade and live music.

Sactoberfest 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014 – 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, October 11, 2014 – 1 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, October 12, 2014 – 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

Tickets:

  • $15 – Designated Driver/Under 21 General Admission tickets include complimentary water, soft drink, or coffee and raffle entry.
  • $55 – Designated Driver/Under 21 VIP tickets include complimentary water, soft drink, coffee, raffle entry as well as access to VIP lounge and restrooms, hors d’oeuvres, after-party nightclub admission, hotel discount, free event parking and souvenir photo.
  • $30 General Admission ticket includes one complimentary 16 oz. beer (21+ only)
  • $45 – Premium Admission ticket includes one complimentary 32 oz. beer and souvenir acrylic Sactoberfest stein (21+ only)
  • $95 – VIP Admission tickets include one complimentary 32 oz. beer and souvenir glass Sactoberfest stein as well as access to VIP lounge and restrooms, full service bar, hors d’oeuvres, after-party nightclub admission, hotel discount, free event parking and souvenir photo (21+ only)
  • Multiple Day Passes are also available (21+, good for all three days and non-transferable)
    • General Admission $55
    • Premium Admission $85
    • VIP Admission $185

Location:

951 Riverfront Street at The Barn – West Sacramento, CA, 95691

For more information about Sactoberfest – visit  www.sactoberfest.com.

A special thank you to Emilie, Rich, Ten 22, 3fold Communications and Finrich Events for hosting a great preview event, including me on the guest list and providing us with amazing food, spirits, swag and Sactoberfest tickets. I look forward to seeing you all at the event.

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